Under The HedgeToday's Tune:
Don't forget: only a few days left to enter my awesome contest full of signed books and critiques!
First: can we talk about how much I love The Sing Off this season? Because I do. I really, really do. LOVE PENTATONIX THEY ARE SO GOOD I CAN'T EVEN TAKE IT. Ahem. Yeah.
Next: let's talk about confidence and never feeling like we're good enough. BECAUSE THAT'S FUN.
My blog-buddy and agent-sister (I can't believe I get to say that eeeeee) Phoebe North recently wrote a blog post that really spoke to me. It was about her experience at Visible Paradise (a SF/F writer's workshop) and how it really affected the way she viewed herself as a writer. She talked about how the writers she was working beside -- a pool of incredibly talented, creative people -- all had difficulty taking compliments when it came to their work, even when that praise was well-earned.
You should really read her post, but this is what it boils down to: that workshop helped her learn that it's okay to think of herself as a professional writer. A talented professional writer (which she absolutely is). It gave her permission to take pride in her work.
And I'll start with the comment I posted on that entry:
"... I can 100% relate. I think, as writers, there's a sort of unwritten rule that we're SUPPOSED to feel some level of inadequacy or self-loathing. That anyone who doesn't is a big-headed hack who thinks they're better than everyone. Which is not at all fair. We CAN take pride in our work and feel secure in our writer status without being unrealistic about our capabilities or our willingness to continue learning.
It's hard when we hear the same thing over and over: 'Listen to the criticism, ignore the praise. Ignore the praise. Ignore the praise. Ignore it because you can't learn from it.' And while on some level it IS true that we learn more through criticism, that doesn't mean that the praise is always unfounded. Sometimes we deserve it. No, we DO deserve it. Because we work hard and we study hard and we write well. And that's okay."
This is something I struggle with a lot, and I know I'm not alone. There's this weird pressure on writers (and other artists) where we're not supposed to appreciate or take pride in our own work. Doing so makes us, like, JERKS or something. I feel like I'm constantly wavering between not quite believing that people think I'm actually publishable and reading my stuff from months past and going, "Woah, wait, *I* wrote that? But it's good!"
It's like no matter what sort of validation there is out there to get, it never makes me quite believe in my own merit. Talking about my writing achievements makes me feel boastful and I constantly fret about how to let people know that I'm a REAL WRITER who writes THINGS THAT ARE PRETTY GOOD without sounding full of myself.
But after reading Phoebe's post, and after my experiences from the last few weeks, I'm finally approaching a place where it's okay to not be full of self-loathing and constantly hating my words. To admit that hey, I'm not bad. I'm better than not bad. I'm good. I'm talented. I'm a writer. An author.
There's a line between pride and arrogance. Arrogance is misguided confidence in the face of repeated criticism in the same area. Arrogance is saying, "No, critique group and agents and editors, you are WRONG when you say I need to work on my writing, despite the fact that you're all pointing out the same weaknesses."
Pride is admitting to yourself that sometimes you write gold. That when talented writer friends, critique partners, and publishing professionals are all telling you that you don't suck, maybe you actually don't suck. It's giving yourself your own stamp of approval, which is often the hardest stamp to get.
So I'm standing here and baring myself to you. Telling you that despite hearing over and over again that I'm a good writer, despite being told my work moved someone to tears, despite having a short story selected in a contest by an author I fiercely admire, and despite jumping the frightening hurdle that is obtaining the coveted offer of representation... despite all of that, doubt still eats away at me.But its bite is getting less and less powerful.
And I'm standing here to tell you that it's okay to face your own monster and tell it, "Yes, I am good. I am going to do this. I am talented."
"I am a writer."