If my life were a reality show, this would be the part where I’d sit alone in a darkened room—just me and the camera. I’d speak in hushed, urgent tones. This is where I’d spill my guts and tell you my deepest darkest fears.
Confession 1: My writing is at a low point, and I am in a flat panic
I miss the feeling of being lost in my writing, of being in the zone—I haven’t felt like that in a while. I wake up every morning with an empty feeling inside, longing to feel lost in a story like I used to. Some mornings I feel so bad about it, I want to cry. I shuffle downstairs, make coffee, and look at my writing projects, jumping from project to project. I want to write. I do write. But not with excitement or passion. And I want that feeling back.
Confession 2: I feel like a fraud
I have one self-published novel. I’ve written five others, eight if you count the three middle grade novels I wrote in another life, nine if you count the thing I wrote when I was right out of college. “I’m a writer,” I tell people. But the truth is I don’t feel like that myself. I feel like I’m not good enough. Imposter syndrome is alive and well and lives deep within my heart and mind. I fear my ideas are trite and clichéd (I know this is true for at least some of my ideas because an agent told me so at a conference once). I’m afraid I can’t really write anything that anyone would want to read.
Confession 3: I’m afraid I’ll never be (traditionally) published
The query process is long and demoralizing—I’ve queried three novels unsuccessfully—and I’ve just about decided to put the only novel I am querying in the drawer (I’m waiting to hear from one last agent; I’ve queried over one hundred). I was represented once (the novel never sold), I’ve had a near miss with two R&R’s, and I was offered representation another time but turned it down (our visions for my novel were miles apart). The positive in this (if I must find one), is that now it’s a lot easier. I have done what experts suggest: I don’t think about it after I send a query. Still, I’m afraid I’ll never again be offered representation. Worse than that, I’m afraid I’ll never be traditionally published.
Confession 4: Writing this post was damn hard
It was hard laying it out. All my fears. Admitting that not only do I feel like I’m failing at writing but also at the querying process and at getting published. I want to be brave, but I’m not always. I’m rarely honest about how I feel with my writing accountability partners or even with my husband or kids about how worried I am all the time about how much I want this. I’m rarely honest with myself. The truth is I wrote the first version of this post a while ago, but I was afraid to publish it—I’m afraid other writers will realize I really am a fraud. Or maybe I’m afraid I’ll jinx myself.
Confession 5: I’ll never give up
It’s another writing day. Early morning. The time I’d usually be writing. My final confession is that even when I can’t write very much or very well or don’t have the passion I used to, I miss it and can’t stop thinking about it. I’ve tried. I’ve even considered quitting, most recently during this last querying cycle. I thought about giving up completely.
But the truth is I don’t want to.
Instead I turn inwardly for encouragement and solace, for ways to combat my fears and inabilities, and here’s what I’ve come up with:
- Be kind to myself. Practice mindfulness. Let the fear wash through me and let it go.
- Spend lots of time thinking and acknowledge that thinking about writing is part of the writing process. Embrace all new ideas.
- Open myself up to my positive writer friends. Allow myself to dismiss my own negative thoughts and also the negativity of others.
- Step away from social media. It exposes me to too much negativity. But if I do stumble and fall back into it, don’t be too hard on myself.
- Write. Write. Write.
Shut off the camera. Cut to real life.
So. Tell me. What’s your deepest darkest fear? And what are you going to do about it? The camera’s rolling.
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