Friday, October 29, 2010

No Success Seems Big Enough

I opened my mailbox yesterday, pulled out a big envelope, and ripped it open to find this:

Which contains this:

It's the first part of my three-part serial "Continental Drift" starting in the 2 November issue of Woman's Weekly in the UK. My first thought was, of course, HOORAY! because people are reading my stories.

But my second thought was worry, followed by lots of self doubt. Why? Because they didn't mention the serial on the cover. Usually, when a new serial is starting, they flag it on the front, like in the upper right hand corner of this cover:

"Continental Drift" was one of those stories that didn't come together easily. In fact, I had to rewrite once for my satisfaction, and twice for the editor's. So the neurotic, insecure writer in me started to worry that it wasn't good enough to mention on the cover.

"Maybe the editors didn't like it enough," I said to my husband (who, to his credit, managed to keep a straight face rather than give me that you writers are crazy look I sometimes get.)

"They liked it enough to buy it," he reminded me. "Look, they described it as 'haunting'. That's good, right?"

"Um, yeah..." I said. But it didn't stop me from thinking that maybe they only bought it because they were desperate. Or because they felt sorry for me having rewritten it a couple of times.

I consider myself a confident, positive person. I don't doubt myself in other areas of my life -- I feel confident as a parent and as a partner. In my professional capacity as an editor and later, as a food scientist, I didn't worry about my abilities or my accomplishments. No, the doubt I experience seems to be limited to my existence as a writer. I think I will always doubt whether I have any talent, even when there is evidence that someone thinks I do.

But at least I'm not alone. In her post The More Things Change, Kiersten White shared how even when you find success, you don't always feel successful. I'm sure there are a lot of writers out there saying the same thing.

What about you? Are you more insecure as a writer than in other roles in your life? Why is that? Is it because writing is more personal? Makes us more vulnerable? Is it because success in writing is so public?


  1. I used to be really insecure about it, but I've gotten past it. I used to be insecure about how people would respond to my work, but now I realize that not everyone likes everything. And congratulations on getting your mystery published! That is so cool!!!!

  2. maybe they are just switching things around, this is a huge deal! u shld be beaming. Yeah usually i have tons of confidence to spare but when i send my work out I become spineless and pessimistic. I crit my work b4 i even get a feedback. oh well what can we do, we are writers its in our dna

  3. I’m the opposite; writing is one of the few things I’m left with any confidence about (even though that may be only one of my delusions).

    You’re being published, and that’s excellent. Congratulations :) And, I will definitely buy a copy
    The enigmatic, masked blogger

  4. Writing is extremely personal, an extension of our creative selves. Rejection of that hits (hurts) harder than many other kinds of rejections (real or perceived).

  5. Congrats on your story being published! I shall go buy a copy of Women's Weekly and check it out. :)

    As for the confidence thing, I can totally relate. I didn't tell people I was writing anything until a few months ago when I started blogging. Then I was afraid to let anyone read it. Now I'm working on proudly telling people that I'm a writer and letting them read my stories.

  6. Congratulations on your story being published! That's great. I don't think it means anything that they forgot.

  7. Congrats on the story being published!

    I'm always, always always insecure. I see it as a good thing, because you are always able to see the need for improvement. IF you thought that you were the cat's meow, I'd worry more about you. The people that think they are perfect, and don't worry about their writer, are the ones that never improve (and typically stink at writing).

  8. Thanks for the well-wishes!

    I forgot to mention the exchange I had with myself right after I had the "Why?" thought, and that was several minutes of "Stop being so paranoid! Enjoy what you've done!" Yeah, we're all just a little bit crazy (especially me).