01 June 2011

This Week On "The Writer": Paralyzing Self-Doubt

I am writing thank you notes to contest judges. The coordinator for the Winter Rose contest encouraged it, even going so far as to suggest actual HANDWRITTEN notes, which I thought was quaint. Instead, I am sending electronic ones, which she will distribute. Then, I will do the same for the Dixie First Chapter judges, who gave me much less...complimentary feedback.  I hadn't read the comments since the day I received them, so it's been...bracing.

See how I am struggling to spin this? It wasn't actually all that bad to read the Winter Rose comments, because the criticism was valid.  I've accepted that I am going to have to fix point-of-view issues, as daunting as that seems right now. It's more difficult to read the Dixie First Chapter judges, because now I know I've got work out there that needs fixing.  I want to write to the remaining contests and ask for my entries back!

Right about now, you must be asking, "Holy shit, how many contests did that self-absorbed woman enter?"
I can't answer that. I honestly don't even recall entering the Dixie First Chapter. I know that I had certain criteria for choosing contests that had to do with the age of the contest, and the final round judges. Clearly, I didn't have to worry about the final round of Dixie.

To the best of my knowledge, I'm entered in two more contests. Two more times opening email announcements, and steeling myself for the results. I hope they arrive many weeks apart. Having such  disparate comments arrive in the same week was jarring. Right now, I need less jostling, and more petting.

I'm not usually this sensitive, so I think I'm going to finish the notes tomorrow. I can rise and declare, "I am a great writer!" which I learned over at the Cherry Forums. But I might need to revisit those nice comments first.


  1. Anonymous1.6.11

    Practice the 90 second thing from Dr Jill. I just recieved a horrible comment on my blog yesterday, it floored me. But I did the "sit with it" for a minute and a half, then I went on to distraction.
    Try that, acknowledge the comments, write the notes, then move past it, and keep saying the "I am a GREAT writer" declaration. This works, eventually.

  2. Anonymous1.6.11

    Just remember that they're not commenting on YOU and any feedback is good because it helps you to improve your writing.
    We think you're awesome and that's all that really matters.

  3. Those comment sheets? Badges of honor; wear them with pride. You've gotten some very useful info. POV issues are fixable and, once fixed, will make your writing stronger. Ditto for any other practical/structural matter. Now you know better, and you're a stronger writer for it. The rest is subjective. You can't make someone like your style or your story. The best you can do is make sure you like it, the rest will follow. The most important thing is not to let it stop you. Remember, authors are writers who didn't give up (a platitude, I know, but still true). You are, indeed, a great writer. Rock on with your bad self.

  4. "I am a great writer, and GOSH DARNIT people like me!"
    [Couldn't resist that one] But it's the truth. And from one creative person to another, subjective feedback is opinion, and another's OPINION is not more important than yours, the artist. And I do believe that we know is our gut when we've got something good. If it's not sitting well with you, maybe you don't know it in your gut yet. But trust yourself when you do. xoxo

  5. Julie's 90 second idea is a great one. I think that might work.

    But for future contests, I have an even more radical idea. Don't read the results. At least not anytime soon. You have a strong, talented voice in your head, with wonderful instincts. The last few months of contests and feedback (even the strongly positive feedback) has generated a ton of noise and is drowning out the beautiful Megan voice. So I vote against adding more noise at this time.

    First principle: you are an excellent writer with a strong start to your book. You've had more than enough confirmation of that. I don't think that it's disputable. That's all the matters. The rest is polishing, improving and fixing - all on the margin. None of it is critical to your progress at this time. The comments and advice will all be there in your inbox if you decide that you want help with the finished product.

    Do what you need to do to meet the pressing demands of etiquette. Then forget the comments, put on some music and spend some time listening to that brilliant voice!

  6. You are writing thank you notes? For criticism? I'd just cry under the duvet and suck my thumb. Good for you, brave girl. Shows maturity and professionalism!

    Personally I imagine my inner novelist as a fragile, primordial creature akin to a featherless bird who is rather, shall we say, "sensitive". Exposing it to outright discussion of flaws and failures might be fatal.

    Or maybe that's just the damn incessant nausea talking.

  7. I was going to say what Delia said, except she's faster and said it better than I would have. :)

    This reminds me of that Anne Bradstreet poem..."From the Author to Her Book" Eh, I'm pretty sure that's the title. Anyway, too many cooks spoil the soup and all that so don't lose yourself in your reworking. It's your soup after all. :)

  8. Hmm yes I'm with Janet. Maybe it's time for a Critique Holiday. ;-)


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