In other words, I’m my own worst enemy, as the cliché goes, and struggle daily to change.
Yesterday, at my son’s doctor appointment, the doctor mentioned that his niece’s young adult book had just been picked up by a major publisher, and that Sherman Alexei (someone I greatly admire) was one of the people who had written a cover blurb for her. Trying to be brave, I mentioned that I, too, had a book out. I asked him to give my compliments to his niece, and we had a nice conversation.
But inside? The whole time I was thinking, wow, his niece is a real writer. Followed by instant fear that he would ask me who published my book, to which I’d have to admit, ‘me’. Or, I figured I could say, ‘it’s an Indie publishing’ hoping he didn’t know that meant ‘me’. I felt embarrassed and even a tiny bit ashamed. My inner writer immediately cowered in her dark, dank, closet, cringing, while the voice that sounds like my mom shouted outside the door, ‘YOU’RE NOT A REAL WRITER! YOU’RE NOT EVEN VERY GOOD!’
Come on, really? At this time of my life, I still cower before that inner critic? How absolutely stupid. And yet, being very honest here, I do.
So what is a real writer? I know the answer to that question. Anyone who writes. What is an author? To me, anyone who is published. I have friends who have published their own books and are very successful at it. Susan Schreyer comes immediately to mind. Multiple books out, always busy marketing in a very professional manner. She’s a real author.
Okay, I just had a lightbulb moment. I don’t feel like an author because I only have one book out, I’m not wild about the cover (which was a mistake), I’m not doing a huge amount of marketing because I don’t think marketing kicks in until you have more than one book out, and I always feel my writing comes up short. So success to me, is multiple books, a marketing plan, and most importantly, the confidence to say, I’m in charge of my writing and publishing. I don’t need a big name publisher behind me to feel like an author.
In spite of feeling like a failure as an author, and feeling like a not very good writer, I honestly love my story. I’m having fun working on the sequel. I think it will be a good story, too. I know I do a good job with setting because that soars for me. I like my characters; some even make me laugh. So why isn’t that good enough?
I guess because I am from that generation that wrote during the time when publishing meant being accepted by someone else. My brain knows that is no longer important in this day and age, and that publishers and agents are struggling. But my writing soul still assumes the mantle of inadequacy.
I know, it’s stupid. But it’s honest, and I haven’t figured out how to change. And I know exactly what is going to happen now. My friends are going to send me emails bawling me out and telling me I’m a good writer. And I’ll thank them, and inside I’ll think, ‘of course you have to say that, you’re a friend’. Continuing the self-defeating role.
For now anyway. I’ll get this figured out. I’m actually a stronger person than that writer cowering in the closet.