This is from my journal the other day. I was trying to come to terms with myself--and why I am so nervous about going to SCBWI for the first time--and why I am struggling and juggling within the confines of my own writing. I am only sharing it so that if you recognize your own self as a writer within my words, know that there is hope. Every writer I know has moments of doubt. Actually, they are lucky if they are confined only to moments.
There is a fear before I sit down and write, a very real fear, and it hits every single time. The fear is that I won’t do it right. That I will mess up the idea or that I had misjudged the idea and that it wasn’t even a good idea to begin with.
I don’t know why I fear being wrong so much. It’s not like I am right on many things in life most of the time. I am wrong A LOT. But in some instances, being wrong (about writing and such) makes me feel stupid. I hate feeling stupid.
I should embrace feeling stupid. I’d probably be a heck of a lot happier if I just realized that sometimes I AM the idiot I try so hard not to be. But then there is that awful pride….
A writing instructor (one of the few brave times I went to learn about writing, more on that later) told me that he didn’t quite get me. How could such deep insecurity co-exist with such swaggering bravado? (Okay, he didn’t say swaggering…I just added it because I do swagger in my own dorky way.) I don’t remember what I said. I like to think that I wrote a journal entry addressed to this instructor letting him know that, yes, actually, you DO get me. This is what I live with all the time. The swagger hides the chicken.
Perhaps that is why I invented the Story Queen. I love her. She is brave and fearless and definitely has swagger. And if you talk down to her, she’ll put you in your place with an Elizabethan insult, all the while making you laugh and feel grateful that you are a part of her circle. She is never about her Queen-ness, she is only and always about the Story. That is the master she serves. Those moments of magic between queen and loyal subjects where emotion, thought, and respect are exchanged, where history is passed on from one generation to the next--that is what the Queen lives for. And I am proud to hide behind her façade when I must speak publicly.
Because make no mistake, I am hiding. I am hiding the fact that I don’t really participate much in SCBWI for one reason and one reason only—I fear that if I go to workshops, eventually I will discover that I am doing it all wrong. True. I hear you laughing on the other side of the screen. Go ahead. Laugh. But it is true. The insecure part of me is certain that one day, you will all discover the fraud that I am. I don’t really KNOW what I am doing. I am just sitting down and writing things that amuse me, confuse me, make me smile or cry. There is no method, per se, no “you are in good hands—I know what I’m doing” thing going on, because I don’t.
And I know it. I fear with all my heart being told that I am doing it wrong. And I fear, if I am told such things, that I will believe them.
Now, I am not so thin skinned that I cannot accept what others say about my writing. I can and do. That’s all part of the game. Not everyone likes or even wants to like the same thing. And I’ve had my share of lengthy editorial letters expounding on the areas in my stories where I make no sense. (True, it happens).
I suppose at this point in the entry, dinner had to be made or something like that, for it just kind of ended. But my head is in a different space now, so I'd like to end on an encouraging note. Yes, it's true--I don't know what I am doing all of the time in my writing. But writers have to risk it. We have to risk the unknown in order to create wonder.
(Those books that scroll down the side of this page are proof:)