Just back from my third AWP. Haven’t had anything new published since the last time. Haven’t really even written much of anything new. Haven’t got a deal or an agent. Haven’t finished my story collection or my couple of novel starts. Haven’t gotten a more writer-y job since finally earning my MFA. Feels like I haven’t done much. Feels like, in ways, I didn’t really belong there. I’ve been working on this writing thing for a while. Some stories I’m working on, I’ve been working on for ten years. Feels like I’m rotting on the vine. I’m an old, old baby writer. It’s time to do something. It’s been time to do something for a long time.
A fellow MFA-er once told me some great things about myself as a writer, but, she warned me, “Your biggest problem is going to be your lack of self-confidence.” I probably nodded. I knew she was right. But it was an easy thing right? To fix? I just had to write as well as I could, let things happen, and based on that, based on success and praise, either my confidence would raise, level-out to healthy amounts, or it wouldn’t matter, because I had succeeded despite it.
I haven’t had as many stories as I’d like placed, but I have had some published, I’ve even won some contests, but I never remember that when I’m writing and believing that every word is crap. I try to line up the good things, including great rejections, conference and residency waitlists, and so importantly, the wonderful things other writers have said. Most of the time it doesn’t make me feel better.
The thing I was so naive about was that I thought I could still write well thinking I was crap at it, and thinking I was crap in general. I tinker, but I think I only half ass everything, because I don’t trust myself. Overwhelmed with decisions on how to proceed with a story, I kind of overstimulate myself trying to think of the million ways a story could be written, a million ways the story could shoot off, sure that whatever I chose was going to be the wrong choice.
I know this is happening, but I don’t know how to stop it. I know lack of self-confidence is a deep problem for me, I haven’t learned how to compensate for it, and I don’t know how to get some. I really don’t even know it’s it possible to get a nice healthy core of self-confidence, when you’ve gone 38 years born, raised, and grown up without it.
I’m just trying to be conscious about it.
Just trying to admit it.
To talk about it.
Writing is lonely enough. Walking through AWP alone, not knowing how to talk to people, not feeling like I have anything recent to show for myself is lonely, and its embarrassing. There are so many writers out there. Why should anyone care about me if I don’t care about myself?