I wonder how many opportunities I've missed because I was crippled with self doubt, this gnawing feeling of not being good enough.
Like most people, when I look back, the best things I ever did came from taking longshots - things I've made when I had no experience making them, relationships that were doomed from the start but worth pursuing anyways, and connections made from reaching across the chasm of what could be and turning that into reality. There is nothing in value in this life you'll get without some measure of risk and failure. I learned that after living in a self-enclosed hugbox whose walls I had built myself (to protect me from bad feels).
For my first novel, I'm querying agents right now, and it's a process that, by its very nature, injects you with self doubt. Rejections piling upon rejections, each one of them adding to the existing doubts you already have about your own ability. If you're unpublished, are you being rejected because your book doesn't match the agent's commercial preferences? Or is it because you fucking suck?
It's a trick question, because the answer doesn't matter. If you love the process enough, the act is its own reward. I love writing. I love entering the flow state and entering a trance-like meditative mindspace where the characters inside of me have come alive and the scene if unfolding before my very eyes and I'm just a conduit, a channel that's transcribing this onto paper. With anything worth doing, you've got to do it, and just let go of the outcome.
So you failed a couple times? A hundred times? A thousand times?
Keep going. Just keep going. That's what life is - one foot after another.
Start from your death and work your way backwards. How do you want to die? Who do you want to be when the lights close out on you? Don't become one of those old men who asks himself what if...
people I admire
Bret Easton Ellis