One of the biggest issues (apart from procrastination) that I have had to deal with is my reaction when people find out that I write. People have been very supportive when they initially found out and have asked lots of questions.
The first question is usually what do you write about. That stumped me for a bit as I found it very hard to tell people about things I had only put down in words. Eventually, after having talked to a few people I managed to refine my answer to this: It’s a story based on balance and how one thing out of whack throws another thing out and eventually everything falls apart, but that sometimes that is how a new balance is achieved. As I re-read that I think I might still need to work on it. However it does the job and people then ask me for more detail on the story and I oblige (setting: medieval, genre: historical fantasy, does it have dragons? no!).
After that they then ask about publishing and that’s when things really get interesting. They mean well, after all they are asking when it is possible to buy my book. The trouble is I haven’t even finished my manuscript. I am half way through my final edit and then I plan on reading the whole thing from start to finish in one go. No editing, simply as a reader (not sure that is possible considering I wrote it, but I’m going to try).
Usually they then ask if I have anything else published (yes, a poem when I was 16. Sorry, can’t remember the name of the anthology it was in, but I can show you a copy of the poem. This is usually met with a polite no thanks). Their interest dwindles and before I know it self-doubt sets in and my insecurities raise their ugly heads. I start feeling like I need to be published to truly be able to call myself a writer.
It is then I have to remind myself that even though my manuscript is not published, I write because that is who I am. I write so that I can better understand the world around me and my place in it. Yes, I want to be published. One, so that I can do this for a living and devote all day to it and two because reading transports me to another world and I want to be able to do that for other people. I touch on that in more detail in my first blog post Why write?
So yes it is great to have other people interested in what I do, in fact it is fantastic. My insecurities and reactions to other people however need a little work. I can be impatient and feel like I am getting nowhere when I don’t have any outside validation. I guess because I’m not being paid for this, it doesn’t feel like a ‘real’ job. And that is a mindset I need to change. I put a lot of hours and love into writing and everything that goes with it (social media, research etc.). I love my story and where it is going and it really is something I would buy and read, but at the back of my mind there is still a voice of doubt. That voice gains strength when I think other people are uninterested in my work.
What I have realised though, is that some people will still be uninterested if I was to be as successful as J.K. Rowling, Wilbur Smith and even Shakespeare. Not everyone likes the same things and that is alright, it would be a boring world otherwise. So if you are like me and feel those creatures of self-doubt and insecurity creep in on occasion, remember that there is no one else like you, doing what you are doing and that’s pretty freaking awesome. We got this.