I’m in an odd position. I’ve just sold a book, finally achieved the acclamation for my work I’ve longed for, and yet I feel more self-doubt than ever before. Despite visible success—a signed contract—I’m not convinced I know what I’m doing.

I open Word tentatively, bucking up my courage to address my previously written files. Fighting an urge to delete every word I wrote the day before, I bite my lip and carry on (I’ve learned a few coping strategies from the Brits!). Words become sentences, sentences become scenes.

And then I read it again, and it’s all dreck. Awful lumps of rubbish prose. (Once again, a Britishism fills the void!) The whole premise suddenly seems stupid. What was I  thinking, imagining I could carry this off?

Where did I put my self-esteem? It must be hiding on the shelf, somewhere behind my talent. When I was seven, I was drowning in talent. I know this because my second-grade teacher said so, as she presented the memeographed copy of my stories to my parents. I had no doubt then that I’d one day be an author of some renown. (And yes, I used phrases like this when I was seven. I also quoted Shakespeare when I was eleven. Is it any wonder I had no friends other than Trixie Belden?)

So what’s changed? Why am I so convinced I can’t write a scene anyone would want to read now, when I’ve actually sold a whole book’s worth of scenes? Why do I now question each plot twist, each snatch of dialogue I write? I’m deathly afraid I will never be able to duplicate whatever snatch of brilliance it was that convinced an editor to buy my book. Heck, I’m no longer even sure I can spell, or agree my subjects with my verbs.

Maybe the key is to sell a second book. Or a third. Or better yet, to finish another book that convinces me—my harshest critic—that it’s brilliant.

That alone is motivation to write every day, to finish the scene, to get to the end. I just want this feeling of self-doubt to end. And the quickest way, I suspect, is to write The End.

7 Comments on Where did I misplace my confidence?

  1. TheOthers1
    February 15, 2012 at 10:06 am (12 years ago)

    We are our own worst critics. Congrats on selling a book.

    • kathrynbarrett
      February 15, 2012 at 12:14 pm (12 years ago)

      Thanks. We definitely are our worst critics. Sometimes it’s paralyzing.

  2. jill barville
    February 15, 2012 at 3:14 pm (12 years ago)

    Congratulations! Maybe you should mimeograph that contract and post where you can see it, at least until you can prop the book, cover out, on your shelf. It’s hard to shush the inner critic but she shouldn’t be allowed to talk until you start edits. Duct tape her mouth shut if you have to so you can hear your inner 7 year old. She’s in there too.

    • kathrynbarrett
      February 15, 2012 at 4:08 pm (12 years ago)

      Great suggestion! Now if only I could find a mimeograph machine…maybe I’ll go with the duct tape idea instead. Thanks!

  3. Taryn Elliott
    February 21, 2012 at 7:21 am (12 years ago)

    I feel your pain in every way. I’ve sold 2 books now and I still sit here staring at my freaking cursor wondering if I’m an idiot for doing this author thing. Then I see something on tv or hear something while I’m out and voila…another story is percolating in the brain again.

    As long as the stories keep coming we can work through the crap that comes with that blinking cursor.

    I’m a fellow pantster with a side of plotting. Thank goodness we have a community to share all these crappy days with–makes the good ones–like the days we get that YES LETTER all the better. 😉


    A fellow Entangled author.

    • kathrynbarrett
      February 21, 2012 at 7:25 am (12 years ago)

      Thanks for the encouragement, Taryn. Off to face the blinking cursor…good luck to you!

    • Gregor
      June 18, 2012 at 1:32 am (12 years ago)

      This was a great idea. Now, when I’m done reading a book, I can sipmly put it back on the shelf or into the giveaway pile, depending on which treatment it deserves. Except that it feels horrible! I already miss my reviews!


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