Saturday, October 30, 2010

This Is Not Your Thing, Dawg

The audition process for American Idol is much more drawn out than we see. By the time the singers get to the point they that they sing for the panel of judges, they have been whittled down to a select few. It's no wonder that some of the worse performers are laboring under the delusion that they can sing well. They've gotten so much further than many of the other competitors, they must be pretty good.

But they're not. They are terrible. They are so terrible that they are down right funny. It's sad.

The other day I had a moment where I wondered if I was like them. No, not in singing, but in writing. Writing is part of my identity. I write because I love to write. I read what I have written and am proud of myself. My friends and family read my stuff and tell me it's good. Of course it is, I am a good writer. I have written a great book and have more in store. Thus armed with confidence, I step forward into the world of querying.

Rejection after rejection, I persevere strong in the knowledge that I am a good writer and someday the right person will read my ms and believe in me too. In the meantime, I continue to write because I love to write and am a good writer.

Then comes the thought....

What if I suck?

What if my confidence is based on my own poor taste? Most of my critiquers love me as a person for some reason or another -- will they be brutally honest or only give me their positive notes? I am too close to my own writing to be objective, just like those singers that think their voices are awesome because they can't hear themselves the way others do.

If I did suck, it would explain a lot. Then I could stop blaming my poor query skills or the industry. Then I would just be another bad writer.

This thought hits me from time to time and I pour another glass of wine. Then I get a great idea and start writing again. Then later, when I edit, I find myself chuckling over my own wit or impressed with a turn of phrase. Whether or not I actually suck, apparently my confidence in my own ability is ingrained deeply enough for me to rally back from the occasional funk. Heck, I was down about my ability when I started this post, and then I finished chapter 19 and started chapter 20.

Just for fun, here's a clip from one of the American Idol auditions. It's particularly bad, and the singer seems honestly confused that the judges are laughing. The judges, to their credit, are no purposefully rude.

How do you deal with bouts of insecurity? Or do you ever have them? Do you do anything special to pick up the pieces?


Joanna St. James said...

I just block my ears and sing la la la till the feeling goes away or my toddler gives me a "mummy is crazy" look

February Grace said...

I wish I had an answer to this for you. Believe me, especially since mid-September and even amidst all my medical nightmares going on, at the very back of my mind, every night as I try to go to sleep is a voice inside asking "am I just the suckiest writer ever to commit words to a page? And no one will tell me? Is that IT?"

I don't know about me.

But I know that I've liked what you've written that I've read in blogfests and such. Otherwise, I wouldn't be here in a darvocet/prednisone-post-surgical haze to offer you what little moral support I can.

If your heart tells you write, then write.

Damn what the world thinks.

That's my plan of action for today, anyway. Tomorrow, I may go back to hiding under the covers again. This is just the nature of the beast.

big hugs

Ellie Garratt said...

Such difficult questions. Are we all labouring under the illusion we are brilliant writers when we're not? Unlike singing, you can't immediately answer that question. We know when someone is out of tune. Whereas with writing, people's opinions as to what makes great writing are subjective. What I like in fiction, another may hate! And even rejections don't give us an answer because there so many reasons for rejection - editor's preference and already having a similar story are too examples.

So I would ask instead, do you love to write? Is it fundimentally part of who you are? Could you ever imagine not writing?

Erin Kane Spock said...

Oh, I absolutely love to write. I did not write this blog to beg for compliments or sing a tale of woe is me, but more because I imagined that there are a lot of other writers out there who, every so often, get hit by a bout of frustration and lack of confidence.
My lows don't last very long; they only last until the urge to write again takes over.

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