Confronting Self-Doubt

Just a sort little post, largely because speaking about myself in any personal capacity makes me do the keyboard equivalent of motor-mouth and then run out of the room.

The point is quite simple. Looking back twelve months or so from now, I was in a totally different position to where I am now. Writing wise, I had nothing accepted in paid print, and while I was working on submission calls, there was nothing in the bag, so to speak. By Christmas last year, I had a couple of acceptances – three to be accurate – but I’m rather ashamed to admit, I responded poorly to them.

Quite simply, instead of confronting my own self-doubt (though mind you it’s more vitriolic when it really gets going, because it is self-hating, anyway), I merely brushed these events off to the side. I let myself do what I had done for a long time, and that was reasoning that the good event had come about by bad consequences.

For example, it would be thinking that I got accepted into something because the rest of the slushpile was poor. Or even that the editor had made a mistake – I believe we’ve all come across writing that we’ve stopped and thought ‘how did this get in print?’ Regardless, the core mechanic was the same – sabotaging good feelings. It sounds a bit bizarre, but I guess that’s how it works – it’s harder to accept that you might have done well when you have poor esteem in that regard. And so, I kept on with that process, not because I wanted to, but because I didn’t know how to maintain any good feeling, without, paradoxically, feeling bad about it.

Fast forward to the present, and I’m staring down quite a list of acceptances. Usually, you could put one or two down as mistakes, but unless a whole bunch of different editors have gone and made the same mistake in some freak alignment of fate… Nope, not likely. So that means I now can’t really escape from having to consider that I might be some good at what I do. And let me stress, while my head wants to feel happy about it, it just doesn’t translate across into feeling. Instead, it only really makes me aware that I feel empty inside about something I should – that I know – I am passionate about.

I kind of needed to get that off my chest a bit. I don’t know what’ll happen about these feelings. Again, I want to feel better, but I’m just waiting for that feeling to come through.


2 thoughts on “Confronting Self-Doubt

  1. Well, I tried to write a long and encouraging comment on the web page and got an error saying it “could not be posted.” No explanation, and the text was lost.

    In brief, I find that your writing is of high quality and certainly publishable. I’m not at all surprised that you are getting acceptances. The key of course is to pay attention to the requirements of any given publication/anthology/whatever and not send them stuff that they will deem inappropriate. Other than that, you’re in good shape. Keep doing what you’re doing, and tell us where you will appear so we can read it. ;D


    1. Ah, it’s always fun when pages do that. Don’t worry though!

      Aw, thanks, I don’t doubt you or others on that matter. That’s why I say it’s a head versus heart thing; I know from people that the writing is good. It’s just a matter of trying to get rid of, or manage better, the self-doubt, which is the heart bit.


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