What I Meant to Say

Oh. I forgot the whole point of this morning’s post, well, the reason I started writing it anyway. I meant to talk about how completely, unabashedly insecure I’ve become with my writing. I have no idea how it can be that I’ve gotten more experience, and am a better writer for it, I hope, and good and encouraging things have happened, and yet I am still a jittery, insecure mess whenever it comes time for someone to read what I wrote.

It makes no sense. I don’t remember being this insecure about people reading my work in grad school, and maybe I should have been back then.

You should have seen me before the workshop at Tin House. I was massively nervous about how people would react to my story—visuals of being slammed plagued me—and then the workshop happened, and I sat there taking notes, and most of it was good. Really good. People liked it, like really liked it. What did I think would happen, they’d run me out of the room with sharpened pencils, smacking at me with scribbled-over copies of my story?

My workshop leader, in my conference, said she hoped I saw how much the class responded to my story and how they connected to my main character. It was good she reiterated it because there was a point at which I didn’t, couldn’t see. I see the confidence in some writers and I am begging for it. How do you feel so sure of yourself? I used to be sure, but I think past rejections have stomped me down. It’s really hard to write your best when you have a massive loss of confidence.

There. That’s what I meant to say earlier.


5 responses to “What I Meant to Say”

  1. I think the writers who are so sure of themselves tend not to be, honestly, very good writers. I have one friend (an old boyfriend, actually) who has been writing as long as I have and he just can’t understand why he isn’t famous/rich yet – and he brings no humility to the process. He is so confident in his abilities that he lacks artistry and appreciation. I think you are such a good writer because you are constantly questioning, always remaining humble to the work. Of course, it doesn’t make for easy days, does it?


  2. Nova, how odd. I just finished writing a post yesterday about just how uncertain I feel about my writing (and a lot of other things, for that matter). Maybe it’s a bad moon for writers, or maybe we grow wiser the more we write. I hope it’s the latter and that eventually we get to burst out into some amazing writing born of self-doubt.

    Because if not, this really sucks. My sympathies to you, sister writer.


  3. I fake it. If I am honest with myself about my uncertainty and fear, then I won’t write. So I fake my confidence. The occaisional beer helps. The cowboy-boots too, cause they make me taller and swagger a little.

    God, I hope I’m not Courtney’s ex-boyfriend.


  4. I like what Courtney said (yay Courtneys)–I think bringing humility into the process is important. But it’s important not to let it overtake the process. People believe in you for a reason, Nova & it’s okay to allow yourself that–and to believe in it too.


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