Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Insecure writers, or where I talk too much

I’ve avoided joining in on these. I don’t know why… Yes, actually I do. And that’s why I’m joining in today.

I’m afraid.

I’m afraid that people will mock me, laugh at me (rather than with me), that they will call me a fake and a fraud and otherwise inform me that I am worth less than they are. I’ve been afraid for years. I’ve been so afraid that I haven’t been trying.

That’s right, I haven’t been trying. I could pour my heart out into the world, but I haven’t. I’ve turned in half-hearted work, taken the easy way out, and when it doesn’t rock the rest of the world, I shake it off. After all, I hadn’t really tried. I didn’t really do my best, so it doesn’t matter that no one’s foot wear was threatening escape, I hadn’t even tried.

Because what would happen if I did try and I still failed?

Would I shrivel up and die like the wicked witch of the west?

If I never put my best work out there, then no one is ever rejecting me. They’re always rejecting my C+ game. Competent, but not the A game I know is in there somewhere.

C+ is a lot easier than A, too. I mean, all I have to do is come up with something competent and I can ship it off into the world. The rejection doesn’t hurt (well, it hurts, but it’s bearable), and there’s the sort of self congratulatory feeling of “See how well that did, and I didn’t even try.”

But I’ve been called out. A dissertation can’t be your C+ game. It’s A time. So for the first time in my life I’m pulling out everything, and I’m scared. I’m pouring out my heart, and it’s not enough. I’m so frightened that my A game isn’t an A game at all. My hardest might not be good enough. I’m staring down the barrel of true and complete failure, and it makes my heart race just to think about it.

Shit, I try not to do this sort of thing on my blog. How do I come back from telling the world that I’ve been faking it? I’ve been the fraud I’ve always been afraid other people would see and uncover. And now that it counts, I’m so scared I’m petrified that my best will only be tiny bit better than my phoning it in. My Real Effort isn’t going to be any better than my faking it. My fraud to protect my heart has backfired. I’ve been caught out by my old habits, and now I don’t even know if I have an A game at all.

What if they still hate it?

All I can do is do. I'd love to try, but Yoda might be on to something. I've been trying. I've got to do.


  1. Hey, it's better that you started late than never! Remember to always stay true to yourself, and you'll never be lost! Sometimes you have to endure true rejection before something good happens.

    Good luck!!

  2. *cough* I might have been doing this too for a long time. When I first started writing, I wrote easy novels. They were okay. I thought they were awesome. Then I realized what "good" was and that I would have to try a lot harder than I had been.

    Hence, the next year and a half of false starts and reading tons of how-to books. It's scary to think of your A game being rejected, but remember, you don't ever have to submit a book. You can write an A game book, and not query it. You can write it just because you know you need to try. I think about what if I died tomorrow? I would be very disappointed with myself for only trying half heartedly. This is what I love: I am going to bring my all to it.

  3. Write and submit, and keep doing it, and one day the right person will like the story that's just landed on their desk. If you shy away from writing, you're not even giving that story a chance. And rejection isn't a bad thing - it helps you learn. I've been submitting since I was 17, and therefore being rejected since I was 17. I don't fear it anymore. And the acceptances are still as sweet!

  4. I hear ya. First step to recovery is admitting you have a problem, yeah? I'm afraid of rejection, too...

  5. Love the advice from Yoda . . . and I know what you mean. It's hard to share the stuff that I've poured my heart into . . .

  6. The only way to real success is through many failures. That's the only way to learn what is really necessary for an A game. Good luck on your dissertation!

  7. You guys are fabulous. Thank you so much. It's strange how great it feels to kick those terrible dark secrets out into the open like that. You guys are amazing.

  8. Yoda is the master of all advice :) (Except maybe Dumbledore ;) )

    And your A game will always be something to work for. Do your best continually and you're A game now, will become your C+ game, if that makes sense. We grow with each failure and success. We learn and whatever knowledge we retain does not leave us. But we will never grow if we don't work our absolute hardest. :)

  9. I did a C+ game dissertation... in fact for my entire degree - and for the exactly same reasons. The thing is, I did well... I was exactly 3% from getting a First. How much do I wish I'd bared my heart and pulled out my A game?! If you play the c+ game, you certainly protect yourself... I managed to protect myself from achieving my own dreams. Doh!
    Go forth. Be brave and enjoy it!
    Laura x
    PS Nice to meet you!

  10. This is such a brave confession Rena :) My thought is--what if you give the world your A game and they love it? How amazing would that be!

  11. I will let you in on a little secret, Rena... we are all afraid! I have discovered that trying and failing is part of what makes me a writer, and in order to continue on being a writer, I have to be okay with that. Thanks for joining in the blog hop!

    Allison (Geek Banter)

  12. What a beautiful and brave post!

    Not too long ago, I was doing the C game with my current WIP. And then somebody (whom I will forever be grateful too) offered me feedback along the lines of 'my heart not being in it', and it woke me up to how I was letting my fear and lack of confidence get in the way of my dreams.

    Yeah, there is more to lose with the A game, but so much more to gain.

    My fingers are crossed for you! Good luck!

  13. You can do it! Yes, it is scary. But what if you did your best and it was excellent.
    Thanks for joining the IWSG. We post the first Wednesday of every month, so I hope to see you again in February.

  14. Glad you meet you as another insecure writer. I'm sure you'll bring your 'A' game when it counts. Good luck and let us know how you do.

  15. I'm so with you there! (IWSG link, by the way)
    I put out a novel (and gathered a stack of rejection slips) and started another one then went back to do another Masters and found a research topic for the project I really cared about. Suddenly, coasting wasn't enough - I wanted the top grade for that project (which I got) and anything else would have been a crushing disappointment. And it took work! (and I know how much more work a Phd is!)
    Coming back to writing, scraping what I'd been working on two years previously and starting to try and write and 'A' game piece has been quite a journey. And the rejection slips I'll accumulate when its finished will hurt - but at least I'll eventually have something I can give people to read that I'm proud as opposed to making "It's a bit slow in the middle and the plot needs some work" excuses about.

  16. Again, I'm just amazed at everyone's response. I guess this is the whole reason for IWSG in the first place.

    Jess: Yes, any start is better than no start.

    Elizabeth: Yeah, the not trying thing is a hard habit to break.

    Annalisa: Yes, rejection, the great teacher.

    Fairbetty: Step one: check!

    Tyrean: And while it is hard to share that stuff I should know better. Every time I've confessed my darkest secrets someone has come to me afterwards and said "I thought I was the only one." I know better.

    Kmc: Sadly, the path to success does wander through the swamps of failure. I'll make it out, but thanks for the words of encouragement

  17. Laura: Oh, what a heart breaker. I'm working furiously to bust out of my shielding. I must make this work.

    Cassie: I know exactly what you mean by my A game today becoming my C game of tomorrow. That's the whole point of progress.

    Angela: Oh I hope they like it. I hope so much it hurts.

    Allison: that is so true. Everyone is scared.

    Carrie: I'm so glad you're putting your whole heart into your WIP. It's harder, but as I'm sure you're finding out, better.

    Alex: Thanks for stopping by, this IWSG was a brilliant idea, and I hope the internets rain praise and great wonders on you for your gifts to us.

    Susan: I'm working on that A game as we speak, so we'll just have to see.

    Dadwhowrites: We are all in that boat of still collecting rejection slips on the stuff we've worked so hard on. My only hope for us all is that our A game shows us that we've been fooling ourselves into smaller places than we really exist. Wouldn't it be fantastic to learn that our A games are great, but that we've been grading ourselves on a scale where A isn't the top? It's what I'm hoping for.

  18. Rena, I'm late commenting but I had to say well done for putting your fears out there. I hope you feel better now you realise that you're not alone, nobody thinks badly of you (in fact, there may be a sense of relief, 'what , you too?').

    I know it's a cliche but nothing good ever came easy. I know how hard you're working on your dissertation, you can do it.


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