by Meredith Cole
Trust is a strange and tenuous thing. Too much and you’re a walking target for hucksters and thieves. Too little trust and life becomes just what you’d expect — one unhappy disappointment. Balance is really the key, and I live with the dual personality of someone who was a resident of New York City for many years, but now lives in a high trust Southern town. The local stores in Charlottesville still encourage you to write checks, and apparently they haven’t been burned enough to change their ways.
I’ve been thinking about trust and writing lately. Trusting yourself as a writer is a challenge, especially when you’re new at it. You try something off the wall with a character, and then have regrets. You workshop your writing and then react to all the comments by taking out pieces of your work that should have stayed or slavishly trying to do exactly what others suggest. Your work suffers and you lose even more confidence. A vicious cycle.
Although I’m not preaching arrogance or misplaced confidence, I do think that writers have to work at trusting their gut in order to be great. You can’t rely on an editor to “fix” your work. You have to become a better editor. You have to read and read, and then write and write until you become better at everything. Trust doesn’t happen overnight, or even in a few months. Trusting your gut can take years and years, and still you might have a crisis over a bad review or a strange comment. You might think “I’m terrible at this” and find it easier to give up. But hopefully you don’t. Hopefully you realize that stories are unique because every writer is different. And hopefully you love the process of writing, so you quickly get back to work finding your voice and learning to trust your gut to help you find your way through your story. Hopefully.