Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Insecure Writer's Support Group

On the first Wednesday of every month, the Insecure Writer’s Support Group encourages writers to talk about their insecurities. So here we go.

As a person, I am generally insecure. As a writer, not so much.

Or so I thought until I started thinking about sharing my work with people. That was a thought most unthinkable.

It's not that I'm afraid they won't like it. Quite the opposite actually; I'm afraid they'll say they like it and I won't know if they're telling me the truth. Yeah, my brain is a mess sometimes.

It seems like people - at least, family and friends - have liked everything I've ever done, whether it's writing or drawing, whether it's something I'm really proud of or something I threw together halfheartedly just to test them. Not exactly proud to admit it, and I know there's a chance my family might read this, but when I was younger, I would occasionally show off purposely subpar work just to see what thy would say. They always loved it, and I'm sure they weren't lying, that they loved me and that love oozed over to my work, but it has made me really reluctant to do anything public with my work. For a long time, I was seriously planning to write under a pseudonym and not tell anyone if I got published.

Going through a major depression and coming out the other side more or less unscathed has made me see things a different way, and I like submitting my stories to strangers on the Internet. They don't know me, they have no reason to lie and tell me I'm good. And if they do say I'm good, I know it means something.

I've shared a few stories with my grandmother and therapist (Me? In therapy? Shocker!), but they're the kind of people who will always say nice things but not gush about every little word I write and what amazing stories come out of my brain and how am I not as famous as JK Rowling! They're just like, "This is good. I liked the ending."

I'm still reluctant to show my work to the people who matter in my life, because every compliment still hurts somehow, and I have to remind myself every now and then that editors and publishers aren't just reading my work out of pity or to be nice. But that's just me being the neurotic product of too much anxiety, a few people with an "this child is a special snowflake who must never ever experience negative emotions" mindset, and just a pinch of emotional abuse. :D


  1. We all have the same initial fears of sharing our work, but trust me when I say this, it gets better with time. Just detach your feelings from your work and start showing it to people.

    Rachna Chhabria
    Co-host IWSG
    Rachna's Scriptorium

  2. Good point! Someone once said when she got her first three-star review, she was excited because she knew for once it was from a complete stranger...and it hit her that people she'd never met were actually reading her work!

  3. I think as writers we feel so much it's hard to separate ourselves. I agree with Stephanie. I do think it gets easier. Also, do what you feel is right and when you are comfortable, maybe that's the right time to share with those people important to you.

  4. Do whatever works for you and what you're comfortable with. I get it. I'm more comfortable with strangers reading my stuff than family. I went through the big D too. Writing is my therapy. :)

  5. Oh, I so get where you're coming from. I'm going to share a little story. My son, who never calls, doesn't write, never reads anything, let alone anything as long as a novel, had my galley because my daugher-in-law was one of my beta readers. He called me on his lunch hour, all excited, and said, "mom, I just finished reading....section!!!" I said, "Yeah, so did you like it?" His response floored me. He said, "I finished reading it and I sat there a second and thought, wow, I can't believe my mom wrote that." When I got off the phone I sat there and cried. I was that proud that my son was that proud of me. After all, he actually read my novel. Sometimes people who love us are that proud of us and really do believe every word we write is great because they believe every word we write is that great.... We just can't use them as our critique partners...LOL!

    1. Proud that someone was proud of you... That's the exact phrase I would use to describe how I felt when I told my mother I sold my first story. She didn't say much, but I knew I had done something to impress her - for real, not like my finger paintings in kindergarten - and it felt good to know I had made her feel good.

  6. I guess the cool thing about the public is that if they like your writing they buy it which is a pretty honest complement! That said, my friend just wrote a totally awesome novel and I am going to give it a great review. But I am worried that they'll think I am only saying great things about it because I'm a friend. So same thing in reverse!

  7. I worry about that stuff, too. In fact, I generally squirm when someone says they are reading my book. The funny compliments are the ones that go like this "I've been reading your book. It's actually good, I mean, better than I thought it would be, I mean, I thought you should know I actually like it." Hmm. I wonder what contortions my face is going through in those moments as I try hard to suppress laughter. It usually comforts people I know when I tell them that I don't want to talk about my writing. It gives them a free pass to think whatever they want, and I don't need to know.
    I hope that your anxiety decreases!

  8. I also would prefer strangers to read my work than people I know. While my husband can be honest (which I appreciate), most everyone else would not be. Even so, I find myself doubting any positive comments people make. That's part of being a writer, I think.