In writing, this keeps me up at night. It is a question that arises out of nowhere, usually before I even put one finger on the blank sheet: Is this the best I can do?
It feels more like a reproach than an actual question.
Is this story that just fell into my lap one morning the best it could possibly be, at least, the best I am able to come up with? I am talking about Spellbloom, the fantasy story I have been working on for almost a year. In writing, everything is possible, yet sometimes I feel strange limitations weighing down on me.
For one, so many stories have already been done, told and written, and well at that. I know I won't re-invent the wheel with mine. So what is it, I hope to achieve with my story? Write a mediocre one and hope to find an audience who doesn't know any better? I know it shouldn't be like that, I do loathe the idea of advantageous writing like that. As a reader it makes me angry. Sometimes though, I find myself hoping that no one may notice my amateurism.
Or do I find the strength to see writing as my personal agenda, my inner calling. At times I find it ridiculous, but on the other hand, artists are a ridiculous and self-absorbed bunch. I have Bukowski's quote in my mind. Don't ever write a novel unless it hurts like a hot turd coming out. - And sometimes it does hurt. Other times however, I feel as though I am looking for the easy route, not the complicated one, avoiding the one that would make the story more intense and less predictable. I feel limited by my own inability to "torture" my characters. I know that I must do it, in order that the reader may see what those characters are made of .
George R. R. Martin said in an interview that one particular part of Book 3 was the hardest thing he ever had to write, so he put it off until the rest of the book was written. When I read A Storm of Swords, I suffered through that part with him. It was one of the most heartbreaking moments. In hindsight, it was one of the best moments. So, I know I have to overcome this. My inner voice may be right to remind me of that.