Writing is something I need to do because I have all these ideas for plots, characters or poetry in my head. When I put them down on paper I reread what I’ve written and tweak it until I’m satisfied – or at least for a while. I tend to revise a lot as time goes on. I’m not insecure about my writing when my critique partners, blogging partners, or beta reader reads what I’ve written because they edit what they see needs changing; typos, word choices, etc. which only makes what I’ve written better. Where the insecurities happen is when others read what I’ve written. Do they like it? Hate it? Think it’s poorly written? It wasn’t just the agents or publishers I used to query that gave me these anxieties, although they certainly added to my insecurity about my writing. It even happens with my published books or the poetry I’ve written. Recently, I had two poems place first and four get honorable mentions in Ohio Poetry Day Contests I submitted to. I should now feel I’m a pretty darn good poet, right? Wrong. I was thrilled, but there’s still that feeling of being a second rate or even third or fourth rate poet.
Maybe I have these insecurities about my books because I’m indie published. There is still that stigma out there even though we are becoming more and more visible and even accepted more and more in the literary world. Every time I get positive reviews or comments from readers about my books I get such a warm feeling of happiness because my creation, my baby, my book, was enjoyed by someone. I’ve had enough of these comments that I should feel quite confident that I’ve written a darn good book. Well, I don’t. Of course, I know that everyone has different tastes in books and in poetry. What one person likes another doesn’t and it doesn’t have much to do with the writer in question.
Recently I finished a Pat Conroy book, The Death of Santini. It’s the first of his books I’ve read, but it won’t be the last. I enjoyed the story he told and his style of writing although at my book club, more people didn’t like how he used what he called his messed up family. They wondered if he’d exaggerated many things, and some of his early memories could be false. Everyone agreed they liked his writing and those who had read his books of fiction said they were very good and worth reading.
One of the things he wrote resonated with me. He wrote that his “insecurities and incapacitating doubt are those that every writer brings to the writing table.” In his early writing of The Water is Wide he recognized his own voice, a voice he used for the next fifty years. He trained it to be a strong voice, but still longed for laughter and beauty in his prose. He also trained himself to be unafraid of critics and held them in high contempt since his earliest days. He said, “I made the decision to never write a critical dismissal of the works of another brother or sister writer, and I’ve lived up to that promise to myself. No writer has suffered over morning coffee because of savagery to my reviews of his or her latest book, and no one ever will.”
That passage made me think how lucky I am to belong to Sisters in Crime and their Guppy chapter. In the years I’ve belonged I’ve never heard any denigrating words about another sister or fellow guppy. Maybe in private conversations someone might mention they didn’t care for a certain book, etc. but never publicly has anyone criticized any other member’s book. The same is true when I’ve attended Malice Domestic and a few other mystery conventions. Maybe mystery writers get rid of their animosities, frustrations and anger through murdering people on the page and don’t feel a need to savage writers through reviews. Just a thought.
What are your insecurities as a writer? How do you deal with them?