Lack of Self

I’ve been invited to join authors at a local library event.

The result? Immediate self-doubt, the sense of not belonging, of not being good enough, and an immediate need to run to my favorite author/source of support for such events, Susan Schreyer, for hand holding while I wipe my sweaty brow and shake in my shoes.

The thing is, once the event happens, I’m fine. I have no stage fright, I have no problem speaking to crowds, I love doing this kind of stuff, and I have a blast.

It’s just the weeks leading up to it that’s horrible.

Here’s a prime example. We’ve been asked to provide questions we’d like to be asked, random facts about ourselves, and questions for the other authors. For random facts about ourselves, I submitted the earth shattering news that I once tried sandpaper to get rid of freckles after uncles told me freckles came from walking too close behind cows. I sent in my responses, then read what others submitted and wallow in self recrimination because theirs seem so well thought out, so ‘real author’ like.

And when I look at their author photos, they all look so professional. Then there’s me with those freckles that didn’t give way to sandpaper.

I absolutely detest those days leading up to an event. I even find it hard to write because I feel like a fraud. I don’t belong. I’m not a real author. All those horrible negatives that creep in. And let me tell you, it’s not just a looming event that make me fall victim to that nasty inner critic. It doesn’t take much at all, especially when I sit down to write, to bring up that weight of ‘I’m not good enough’. I know the thoughts are stupid, I know I’m not as bad as I think I am, but I can never escape that little voice saying ‘maybe you are’.

All this means that for the next couple weeks I’m going to be full of doubt, resisting the urge to moan my fate to Susan, struggling to string words together, and generally miserable. Then I’ll go to the library and have a blast and come home castigating myself for once again being a fool. I’ll feel empowered, enthusiastic, and impatient to write. Until another invitation comes in.

So what makes the difference? What makes me recognize the beauty of writing, the excitement of telling a story? What makes me react so differently?

Being around writers and readers. Having an environment of those who thrill to the power of a new book, a new tale to read, a new challenge to write. Even doing an edit job for someone else gives me that sense of enthusiasm to jump back into writing. I don’t think of it as a support system because, to me, a support system means a close group of regulars. I have that, in Susan and close friends (you know who you are) who are always there. What I’m talking about here is something different. I can go to those friends and know they are going to shore me up. But being around writers and readers isn’t a shoring up, it’s a sharing of something mutual. Those people don’t know me, the enthusiasm doesn’t come from loving me, it comes from loving the same thing. Does that make sense?

Between now and The Event I’m going to struggle to write every single word in my work in progress. But I know in a couple of weeks, that same work in progress is going to be inundated.

How silly we are sometimes.

November 2nd, 2:00 - 3:00, Snohomish WA library. Come share the enthusiasm.

November 2nd, 2:00 – 3:00, Snohomish WA library. Come share the enthusiasm.

4 thoughts on “Lack of Self

  1. Remember the “talking to” i gifted you a few weeks ago???? It still applies! I like your comments about support groups. There are groups that I attend that we share a deep and profound love for one another and other groups where we share a passion for reaching the same goals and a few that have both. These are Blessings. This is where i go to be reminded that I am beautiful and talented and that i need to tell myself that regularly. love you dear sister.

  2. Oh, Lisa!!! The feelings you describe here are so familiar to me! But on the other hand, whenever I think of your books, I am just in awe that you wrote them — that you can do that. I know that self-doubt isn’t necessarily tied to what you’ve actually done, but oh man, you are so talented and thoughtful and awesome, I wish I could somehow convince you not to worry that you don’t measure up.

    Here’s a thing that sometimes helps me, though: those other writers, the “real authors”? They’re just people too. They can do some things better than you, you can do some things better than them, they have moments of brilliance and élan and moments of idiocy and awkwardness. Guaranteed. So take pride in your role as a human among humans.

    Wish I could come out to your event 🙂

  3. Dear Lisa, I attended a local author group at the local library recently. I am a new writer myself and wanted to find out more about how others had started and what the subject matter was and how they managed to become published. Being a somehwhat reserved person, I myself had minor stage fright at being with the local ‘celebrities’. I did happen to know one of the local non-fiction authors which more or less broke the ice for me. Then I had some informative conversations with some of the fiction writers, and they were of course great listeners and I received helpful insights. So don’t think that the public will be critical, at least not the majority, we are often very much like you and are there to share and learn.

    • Thank you for the kind words and for taking the time to share them. It’s so exciting to think of the journey you are beginning as a new writer. We’re all on that same road together so I hope you’ll feel free to comment here and ask questions any time. The whole reason I started the blog ages ago was to be able to talk and learn about writing. Share the journey so to speak!

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