Tuesday, June 14, 2011

A Writer's Insecurity

Rachelle Gardner's post today on the gift of insecurity got me thinking.

I posted a comment over there, but I think I want to expound upon what I said.  In that comment I talked about my first (which became my second) novel, Oracles Promise.  This book took a long time for me to finish that first draft.  (Somewhere in the vicinity of 8 or 9 years.)


Well, a) I got stuck in revising mode.  Instead of adding new story I tweaked and rewrote what was there.  And b) I didn't have much confidence in the story.  Especially when I'd read other published works.

In 2007, I graduated with my bachelor's degree.  In celebration, my mom and I traveled to New York that summer.  We'd done the same thing when I graduated high school and it was fun for me to sort of bookend my college years that way.  While there, I had the chance to go to an author signing.  The author was Jasper Fforde.  (I'm sorry if you're groaning right now, but this was a huge moment for me in my writing journey.)

I'd been feeling really unsure of my story and the characters and everything at this point.  Around this time I'd actually decided the book needed to be shelved and never finished.  I asked Mr. Fforde if he ever read other peoples' books and felt like what he was writing was utter garbage.  (I may not have been quite so eloquent.  I was speaking to an author I admire.)

When he said all the time, I was shocked.  Yes, I was naive enough to believe that authors don't doubt themselves.  That they're not questioning everything they've written, even after it's published.

But he also said that you have to use it to motivate yourself to improve your own writing skills.

Fast forward to last March when I had the chance to see him in person again.  This time I was rather a blathering idiot when I reached the signing table.  I rambled on about how what he said those years before had stuck with me, kept me going, etcetera.

I'm still sitting here, insecure, doubtful, questioning every word I've ever written.  But I'm realizing that I have the tools I need to overcome those insecurities and those doubts.  I have very supportive writer friends who are there to encourage me.  I have the dojo and my blog.  I have my faith.  I have the words of those wiser than I am, those who've traveled the path I'm just starting on.

I have my doubts and fears and insecurities, but I know I can get past them.  I have in so many ways.  Since that day when Mr. Fforde shocked me, I've finished the book I'd shelved at that point and written three others, with another well under way.


  1. I love Jasper Fforde. I would've been a blathering idiot too except I would have been a blathering idiot without the mindset to ask an intelligent question.

    It's always nice to know we're not alone when it comes to insecurities.

  2. We are all insecure, because that what we do is judged so subjectively. Keep in mind that regardless of how successful JK Rowling is, there are still people who hate Harry Potter. We all need to trust that somewhere there is an audience out there that will read us, as long as we focus, practice and in the end, produce our best work.

  3. This! I feel insecure all the time! What if people don't like what I wrote? What if I'm never good enough to be published? What if... what if... what if... And it goes around and around and around. The hardest part for me is using all that insecurity to motivate me instead of staying stuck.

  4. Good for you! I totally think what I write is crap all the time, but every once in a while when I'm reading I catch myself by surprise - laughing out loud, finding a pleasant turn of phrase - and I think I might be able to do this after all. None of us should give up!

  5. Yeah for you! I know I feel insecure alot myself. I second guess and doubt myself and think I'll never write as well as this or that author. I have to put those aside though, just like you said.


All content copyright of the author. Please ask permission before re-printing.

Fair use quotations and links do no require prior consent of the author.