Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Doubt Colored Glasses: An Insecure Writer's Support Group

Oh Insecure Writer’s Support Group, you’ve taught me things. When I first started down this journey, I was so very jealous. I was trading manuscripts with people and our work seemed to be on par. Then, very quickly, those people all got agents. Then they got book deals. They were suddenly the shit, and I was twiddling my thumbs (if you count writing five more books twiddling).

I was so jealous of those people. I assaulted myself with all the feels because I couldn’t, or wouldn’t understand my own jealousy. I let myself think the terrible thoughts: I’m not good enough. I’m completely delusional about my talent. The world is out to get me. It really is about who you know. I thought those things and more, my jealousy festering inside me. It was dark, but those times were tinged with another darkness that had nothing to do with writing. Doubt fogged every pair of glasses I used to view the world.

I went on to publish my first book, and I’ve written about how I didn’t think it was a really real success. In fact, it’s been the problem all along. I can see the success of others, but never my own. I think that all the success I receive is part of some participation award, and everyone else was living the highlife. Better published, better written, better agented. Everyone seemed to be posting their Agent call, or their call with their editors—somehow, all of my success came with an email, never a phone call. Was I defective? How come my success looked different? That’s right, because my success wasn’t really success at all.

Then, publishing turned, as it always does, and those people I was jealous of started to be ground under the wheel of publishing. I had thought those people had made it. I’d thought their dreams were coming true. And for many of them, it did. But for others, Publishing did the thing publishing does, it moved on. Agents left. Books died in editing. One of those people had a whole writing career—agent, books, big promo—and then said peace out and deleted all of her social media profiles. She no longer publishes. (Odd side note, there are three people who fit this description, five if you relax the circumstances a tad to just let those sites go dormant).

Which is to say, Publishing is hard. It takes people’s dreams and destroys them on occasion. I don’t see their paths as successes anymore. It must be hard to get an agent and then lose an agent in the span of a couple months. I know more than one person whose book died in editing at a major house—these are the stuff of nightmare—but I coveted their place and success because I have always had a hard time seeing other paths as successes.


It’s been hard to learn to look through my doubt colored glasses and see the world. There’s more ways to success, and it’s important to remember that what looks like success on the outside might actually be a complete pile of dog poo on the inside. Doubt changes what you see in others and yourselves.

Be sure to visit the Ninja Captain, Alex and to thank this month's Co-hosts: Tamara Narayan,Patsy Collins, M.J. Fifield, and Nicohle Christopherson!

Happy Writing, everyone. (Psst, did you know next month is A to Z??? Where has the time gone!)

10 comments:

  1. Writing doesn't sound like a good way to make a living. Too much stress and indecision. At least I have a day job to fall back on. Perhaps that's one reason why I write so slowly. Nothing bad will happen to me if I don't write.

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    1. Writing is not a good way to make a living. In fact, the vast majority of writers I know have full time gigs doing something else entirely. I'm working a day time job ranging way more than the standard 40 hours a week, so yeah, it doesn't leave a lot of time for writing.

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  2. The grass is alway greener, isn't it?

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  3. We have to learn to define success differently. And know there are different paths. Like Ken, I'm glad I have a day job. I'd hate to get so stressed I cancelled all my social media.

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    1. I totally understand where she was coming from, but I agree, there's more to life. I'm just really glad I had an opportunity to experience publishing in all it's glory.

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  4. It's so sad to hear about these authors getting their dreams squashed like that. If anything, you can choose to see that success is how you define it, not how some amorphous society that has no real head person decides to define it.

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    1. That's a good point. I know that for me, success has always had very specific parameters, so I keep waiting for that day, but it keeps not being the thing. On the other hand, I know that what I do have is someone else's absolute success. Such an odd truck to drive.

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  5. I hear you on this (no duh?). It always seems like someone else has what you're trying to get and is doing so much better than you can ever picture yourself doing. I know I shouldn't compare myself to others, but damn, it's hard not to. But I'm slowly getting better about it, and trying to focus on what I'm doing and what more I can do, instead of looking at others and wondering why I don't have that. It's not easy.

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    1. I read an article that said humans literally cannot help but compare ourselves to others so we have to learn to do it in a healthy way. Like learning to not compare our first drafts to someone's polished novel of awesome.

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