But all my words come back to me in shades of mediocrity
This is something that I always feel very keenly when I write. There are days when I have to sit there and force myself to put words on the paper because the whole time I'm writing there's a voice in my head saying, "God, this is so dull. Why on earth do you think anyone would want to read this? Your use of language is appallingly simple and coarse. Would you please stop? I can't take it anymore."
Now, don't get me wrong. I don't think I'm a bad writer (even though that's what I say to my husband every time I ask him to read a scene for me). I do actually think I'm a far better writer than many, many people on the planet. Of course, the majority of those people never claimed to be writers and are perfectly happy with their lives in other lines of work. I also think I'm significantly better than many authors of certain *cough* fanfictions *cough* I've read. But that's not really a source of pride. I am, I think, a decent writer.
Then I read books that make me marvel at their ideas and images and prose. Then I look at my own and think "Dull, dull, dull. Irrepressibly drab and awful." All my words come back to me in shades of mediocrity.
And I think that most writers (especially we who aren't published yet) suffer from this to some extent. That's why writers tend to rewrite, revise, edit, and polish over and over again until they think their manuscript is as close to "perfect" as it can get. Our prose is almost never good enough for us as it is. Have you ever had someone read your work and tell you how good, how compelling it was and how strong the voice was? And then you look at them at if they're deranged and begin to suspect that they're just outright lying to you because how could they possibly think any of that pile of steaming crap had any merit at all?
Well, there's a reason for that. Here's how author Kristine Kathryn Rusch explains it:
When you’re telling the same plot as someone else, you differentiate that plot from the other person’s only by making that story personal, making it something you care about. You write honestly, without stylistic flourishes at all.
If you do it right, that story will be compelling—and here’s the weird thing. Everyone will mention how strong your voice is. You won’t see your voice in that piece at all. In fact, you’ll think that story’s prose is colorless, unoriginal, and rather mundane.
Ever since you learned the language around your first year, you’ve been thinking precisely that way. That’s how you think. That’s how you talk. That’s your perspective. It’s old news to you. In fact, it’s normal. But to everyone else—especially people who’ve never met you—that perspective is new and vivid and memorable.
Remember that folks: you can't hear your own voice in your writing because it's been yours since you learned to talk and to you it's just the same old song. But to other people your voice is different, unique, fresh, interesting.
And we as writers need to just learn to trust our voice without attempting to polish it into oblivion. We need to trust the unique perspective that we write from to make our writing personal and thus more compelling.
I've known this for some time but I still hear those evil negative voices in my head. Most of the time I just need to block them out and keep going. Trust doesn't come naturally to me, I have to practice it. We all do, to an extent. We need to just keep writing and we need to not get stuck in endless revision cycles. We need to write and then go ahead and put our writing out there, whether that's submitting it to traditional houses, or publishing it yourself. Take chances and trust your voice. It's the only way your voice will be allowed to develop.
Believe in yourself as a writer.