So, first of all, I have to tell you that I have the worst luck when it comes to computers. I swear, I can’t get through a draft without something bad happening to mine.
This time, it was my adorable, lovable puppy. He chewed through my power cord, thankfully when it wasn’t plugged in. I was able to fix it with some electrical tape, but that was only a temporary thing. If you’re reading this I’m back up and running now, because I can’t actually post anything without my computer. But as I write this, (in an email document) I’m desperately praying that my power cord comes soon, so that this posts on time. The moral here is, if you think you’ve fixed a power cord with electric tape, assume that it won’t stay fixed for long and order a new one right away. Also, maybe don’t have a puppy. (Kidding!)
Anyway, what I really wanted to talk to you about today was something totally different.
I want to talk about talking about my writing to other people, because it’s something that I struggled with, and still struggle with. Maybe it’s something that you struggle with too. Maybe we can learn from each other.
See, I have a hard time talking to people. I struggle with social anxiety, and it’s hard for me to talk out loud to people. I’m afraid I’ll be perceived as stupid, or lazy. This causes me all sort of anxiety when I send out query letters, approach book reviewers, post my stories here on PBW, and pretty much anything else that involves reaching out with my work.
Obviously, I have to get over this. Whether I end up going the traditional publishing route or the independent, I have to talk to people about my writing. But it can’t just be gotten over. Anxiety, much like the depression I fight with as well, is not something that you just ‘get over’. In fact, if you tell someone with a mental illness, even a mild one like mine, to get over it, there’s a good chance you’re an asshole.
Now, this might actually all sound like bullshit. I mean, it has to be. I publish two posts a week, am active on social media, and share at least two of my stories every month. I’ve published two books, sent my short stories off to editors hundreds of times, entered countless contests and have sent my my novels out to agents.
The truth is that I’ve come a long way with my anxiety. I’ve worked very hard, and still do just about every day. I’ve learned, over time, to find ways to combat my anxiety, and get my work out in spite of it.
One big thing I had on my side was that I’m not afraid of failing, just looking like an idiot. So a kindly worded rejection letter has never been a big deal to me. I wasn’t bad, other people were just better. I’ve also, every time I’ve ever sent a query out, just assumed that I was going to get a rejection letter, so that’s not an issue.
My biggest concern is that I’m going to be personally judged. Even my fiction also touches on my history. I worry that I share too much about my family, my personal failings, my life. Which is why, in a large way, I started this blog. It’s why I’ve always been very loud about when you could expect to hear from me. I’m scared of posting, but I’m way more scared of not meeting an expectation that I’ve told others to have of me.
Following other blogs that also dive into personal issues has also helped me a lot. I feel better about sharing my history when I see other bloggers do it. One has talked in depth about her divorce. Another has similar issues as me, coming from an abusive childhood. Reading their stories helped me. I realized that A. I wasn’t the only one who felt like this and B. sharing is good for both the reader and the writer. I thank God for the men and women who were brutally honest online, because it encourages me to do the same.
Some of it is just shutting down the critic in my head. Telling that part of my brain to shut the hell up. It can be hard, but if I repeat it often enough I get pretty far.
And this is why, my dear readers, I am constantly saying over and over, “I am a writer.” Because if I say it often enough, I can make myself believe it. So, when I’m stressing out over a query, I whisper it. When I don’t really want to press publish on a post, I say it out loud. And when I nearly cried over putting my books on Gumroad, I almost screamed about it. I am a writer, and this is what writers do.
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