A finished book is deceptive. It’s neat and tidy and all bundled up with a beautiful cover. What us struggling artists don’t see are the hours of doubt that went into its creation.
The hours of doubt are hidden in every work of art. As creators, we either learn to work through those doubts, or we crumple up the sheet of paper and toss it in bin — giving up entirely.
When Stephen King was writing Carrie, he did exactly that. He typed up three pages. Then, he realized he didn’t like the story; he didn’t like the main character; and he worried he didn’t know how to write from a woman’s point of view.
So, he threw his pages away. When he got home from work that night, he found his wife Tabby had rooted through the trash, read the pages and fallen in love with them. “You’ve got something here,” she said. “I really think you do.”
King would go on to finish the novella. It got rejected by 30 publishers before landing at Doubleday. King’s $2,500 advance was enough for him to put a down payment on a Ford Pinto and move his family from a trailer into an apartment.
The hours of doubt nearly destroyed a book that went on to sell more than a million copies and launched the career of one of America’s most famous writers.
Our task is learning how to suffer through those hours. There is no question they will come. The only question is whether we can rise to meet them.