I’ve posted before about my struggles with lack of confidence in my writing ability, as well as my desire to grow a thick skin so that criticisms don’t hit me so hard. My logical mind knows that ‘great’ writing is entirely subjective – one person may love it and another wouldn’t even use it to line their bird cage. But I still retain this illogical desire for everyone to like my writing. If that isn’t a recipe for disappointment, I don’t know what is 🙂
The last two weeks have filled me with doubt (again). I failed on part 10 of Kharma’s Way, and it wasn’t received well by my readers. Of course I was disappointed, but the feedback did help me identify weaknesses. Then, in my last manuscript writing class, I got critiques back from the instructor and one person in my peer group on the first half of my story. Not good. There wasn’t much about it that they did like. The comments on the second half were better, but still not stellar.
After my manuscript writing class last week, I cried. For days, every time I thought about it, I cried. This marked the unmistakable fact that my thick-skin development had suffered a major setback. I think this hit me so hard because over the last few weeks, I had been working on this story for a contest. I went through five rounds of edits and solicited feedback from a couple friends. I felt good. I felt like I had submitted something that wouldn’t be an embarrassment –and a wasted entry fee.
Before I left class, something else happened that has bothered me all week. In my rush to get out of there before I cried, I was stopped by a man from my last short story review group. He wanted to email me his story to get my feedback because he liked the input I gave him on the first one.
I’m afraid my response was less-than-enthusiastic because, at that moment, I felt like a failure. I didn’t think his work was worthy of my opinion. I mean, how could I justify giving my opinion when I can’t even write a decent story? I thought my story was good – and I was wrong. I figured I wouldn’t know good writing if it pinched me on the cheek. (He may have taken my hesitation as not wanting to read his story, which is not the case. I’ll have to clear that up next time we meet).
These recent events have filled me with doubt. I doubt my writing talent/ability. I doubt my eye for good stories and writing technique. I doubt whether I can overcome my emotional attachment to my writing – the only way a thick skin can grow. I fear that doubt will paralyze me. (To fight off the paralysis, I have continued to write <possibly bad> stories. I can’t help myself.)
The reason I’m sharing my mini-crisis is so if anyone else is going through this, they will know they’re not alone. And I’d like to think that I’m not the only one who battles self-doubt on occasion, because the alternative is acknowledging that I’m mentally unstable…I can’t handle that right now 🙂