Would it surprise you to learn that yesterday I thought I'd be sick? That I was so nauseated I couldn't eat (think of it as the "writer's diet"). That I haven't slept well in days. That I'm too strung out to work on the novel I should be working on. That I can't open my email or check Twitter without a pang of fear.
What matters most, however, what should matter most is how I feel about my work. Did I make the best possible effort to express what was in my heart? Did I give it every bit of my time and attention and say what I wanted to say? Is my character true? Is my story real? Is it the best I can do with the skills I have at my command right now?
I've heard apocryphal stories about authors who edit their work long after it's been published (yup, I do.) I know that expressing true and deep emotion is all I can aim for, and sometimes, sure, I miss the target. Most of the time as I write I struggle to say what I really mean. As I edit I try to carve through to the emotional heart. Each novel I write may (or, oh fear of fears, may not) take me closer to the bull's eye, but I must keep trying.
What all this adds up to is that I do have to let go of my novel. Release it. Okay, maybe I'll secretly take a red pen to my own dogeared copy, but in truth it's time for me to go on to the next novel. It's time to hush the evil genie of self-doubt and move on. It's time to try to find the heart of that new story, to try, try, try again to craft a story that rings true and fine.
"The thing that is really hard, and really amazing, is giving up on being perfect and beginning the work of becoming yourself." Anna Quindlen