Thursday, October 6, 2011

The Insecure Writers Support Group

So, I found out about something kinda cool today through LG Smith over at Bards and Prophets. The Insecure Writers Support Group

Which Alex J. Cavanaugh is running. Although I am coming a bit late in the game, I figure I aught to catch up for lost time and write a Thursday post on this...since my Wednesday post was on magic, or something.

One night at a friends birthday party, some two years ago, two guys got into a fight. It started out innocent enough, they were arguing over the definition of "try" and "fail", they were very drunk. One guy was saying the word's meant the same thing, you were failing while you were trying to succeed, but until you actually succeeded you were failing. The other guy was saying that trying was not failing, it was trying. And while you might not succeed while you were trying, you were making positive steps, so how could you be failing.

If neither of those arguments make much sense to you, I understand. Did I mention they were very drunk? One of these guys was letting his insecurities get the best of him. I think he used steroids. Why bother trying, if its only failing. The other guy's argument was much more optimistic, trying isn't failing, its trying...and you will keep having to do it until you actually succeed.

The problem with insecurity is that its easy to use as an excuse, lets face it writing is hard, and its scarey knowing that you might not ever succeeded. It looks like an insurmountable wall. I can just say, well, I will never do that, so I might as well give up. I am not good enough so I should quit now.

"Why cant your fiction be more like your non fiction. Your fiction prose is stiff."

Say what??? I am paraphrasing, but I am not joking. I had a friend tell me this. Not just a friend, a writer whose opinion I respect. And I've gotten a lot of positive feedback on my creative non fiction. It's the only stuff I've ever sold, and when I put a piece up for workshop I am told, "this is my favorite thing you've ever written".

So whats the problem? Creative non fiction is not fun for me to write. Contemporary fiction, is not fun for me to write. Its easy. The words come out. But its not fun. I am left feeling insecure about the writing I like to do, and confident in something that I dont like to do. I know I should just let this go, I know my fiction needs work. But for some reason, this particular comment has left me feeling insecure.

And these insecurities have me locked up at the key board, paralyzed with a form of doubt that I seem to have a hard time shaking. Just as another persons comments about my character drove me to post yesterdays post...but that's another topic for another day. This is just ONE persons thoughts. I have other people asking me when they will get to see the rest of the fiction novel that I've been working on. I've been complemented on my fiction prose before. I should just shake this off. The problem is that it is contributing to my self doubt.

Someone once told me, and I cannot remember who, that in order to call yourself a writer you have to actually write. That seems like a no brainier right? But maybe its easier to wrap yourself up in doubt and insecurity and not write. Its easier to think, if I never try, I can never fail.

Life is full of people who tell you, you will never make it, you will never succeed. Living is about learning to ignore them.


  1. Good post. Glad you joined us on the couch. :)

    I don't see trying and not yet succeeding as failing. It seems the only way you really fail is to stop trying. If I were drunk I'd punch one of those guys in the nose. :P

  2. great post. Try is so not failing. A positive attitude will get us so much further than expectations so high that it's considered a fail until you reach the end goal. Trying makes us better.

  3. hey!
    just stopping by from Alex Cavanaugh's blog... on the Insecure Writer's Support Tour!
    and i agree with LG... trying and not succeeding is not failing... just keep doing it and success will come

  4. Hey Sara! We all feel insecure from time to time and I've definitely had comments that shook me a touch, like a man that told me he was thinking of leaving my play after the first act because the main character was "whiny". Yeah. You have to shake it off, even though it sucks to do so.

  5. L.G.--Oddly enough the fight did end in violence. They were very drunk, and one of them was on steroids (this is not proven, I just dont like him and he has way to much muscle and anger to be a normal person. Plus I am a writer, that means I can make things up, right?)

    Lynda & Jeremy--I absolutely agree with you guys. I think its just a mater of needing to remind yourself.

    Libby--Missed you at Group on Wednesday! Its weird cause you get horrible comments sometimes and can shake them off without a problem, I think the issue I have with this is that I kinda agree that my fiction prose needs work.

  6. @Sara - I had to be in Arlington Tues so I skipped Wed. I'm out of town this week so I'll miss again. See you soon though!