Friday, March 06, 2009

Writers are nuts

I know I am. Completely certifiable on my good days. Because so often this whole writing thing seems like an exercise in masochism.

I’m unpublished, which means on a regular basis I’m sending personal work out into the world. The vibe being, ‘Please sir, or M’am, please validate this work that took me a year to create and polish, by liking it’.

Then, even if they like it, I might sell it for, when worked out on a hourly basis, mere cents per hour… and I will be thrilled, believe me.

Even published authors regularly deal with rejections, or revisions, and bad reviews. And let’s face it, most writers I know, myself included, have disgustingly fragile egos when it comes to the writing.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve tried to convince myself to be confident in my writing, in the story I produce and then see that confidence crumple to nothing at the first rejection, or the first less than glowing contest critique.

I’ve even tried to convince writer friends to be more confident, which is pretty laughable, and I seethe with jealousy when I hear of writers who had the confidence to change agents, or turn down publishing deals when they weren’t published, as they fully expected better agents, or better deals to come along. And better agents and deals did come along.
I wonder where they got their confidence and how I can steal some.

But I’m starting to believe that my insecurity might have a bright side. I’m a lazy person by nature, and I usually try and get by doing the least possible. But with the writing, the more I write, the less confident I get, which makes me edit more, question more of my story, re-think more, in essence, be less lazy and work harder towards getting the book right.

So what I need. A lack of confidence when writing the book, and then complete confidence when marketing it… I guess I’ll try and fake it when this book is finally finished..


Kimber Chin said...

Of all the things I've tackled in life, writing has to have been the hardest on the ol' ego. I question constantly why I do it.

But that I do still do it, says something.

That like you, I'm nuts. LOL

The Rat said...

You said it, sister. I couldn't have written it any better myself. Which, sadly, makes me lose even more of my confidence, but hopefully instills some in you. :) Good luck on this hopelessly winding and nauseating road.

But like Kimber said, even though I question why I write, I can't stop.

Sinead M said...

Writing is really hard, and tough on the ego, and I think it has to be.
The most important thing I've learned to date is taking criticism(the right kind) has made me a 100 times a better writer.
So an ego can get in the way of being a good writer.
But every time I finish a story, the next one is just calling to be written, so I guess I can't stop either...

Stephanie Doyle said...

You want to talk about nuts! I check my email I think every four to six minutes to see if I've gotten rejected yet by an editor who is reading a submission that I probably won't even hear from for another 2-3 months.

I'm certain that once I see the "1 New Message" prompt - that that's it. It's over.

There is not a thought in my head that someone might like what I've done. Only what excuse/reason they'll use to reject it.

But what you said Sinead is key... you just can't stop. That's how you know you're a writer.

Anonymous said...

Well, if you weren't crazy before, it'll certainly make you crazy. But it's so good to share our experience with one another to know we're not alone. Thank you.

Maureen McGowan said...

FABULOUS post Sinead. We are so in the same head-space these days (dare I say years). I used to ooze confidence about my writing. And while I know I'm way better now... somehow the confidence has bottomed out.

And Steph? I am the exact same way re: endlessly checking my e-mails... And the first few weeks I have stuff on submission my heart races every time my phone rings long-distance... Course, it's always a telemarketer, not my agent.

Amy Ruttan said...

Oy Writing is hard. Sinead I'm just as nuttier as you are. Just because you get published certainly doesn't make it easier.

Like Kimber I sometimes question why I do it? Am I insane? Yep.

And like Maureen and Stephanie, I obsessively check my email. Maybe being a stay at home mom now it's my only connection to the real world.

In fact feel free to email me ... I'm begging you PLEASE!!! ;) LOL!

K J Gillenwater said...

Hm, I actually have found that I have become a better writer and more able to handle criticism since I started to try for publication.

Letting go of your fear of rejection helps you improve your writing like you wouldn't believe. Part of any writer's problem is 'letting go' and not thinking about the critique partner or reviewer or agent on the other side. It frees you to just write without pleasing anyone but yourself.

Margaret Moore said...

If anybody ever comes up with a cure for Writer Insecurity, I'm buying a gallon of the stuff, because I am more insecure about my work now than I was in what I refer to as the Glory Years, before I sold, when I felt free to write anything I wanted any way I wanted. Well, I still do, but now I worry that some reviewer or blogger is going to tear it to shreds, leaving my self-esteem in tattered bits all over the internet. Or that what I write is just too old-school to be popular. Or that I've completely shot myself in the foot by writing what I want the way I want.... Oh, the list of doubts can go on and on.

But when I'm actually writing, I still love it. Then I'm not worrying about anybody's reaction or marketing or anything. I'm just goin' with the flo, lost in my own little world with my people, having a fine old time.

As long as I feel that way when I write, I'll keep writing.

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