Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Insecure Writers' Support Group - Proving Myself and Salmonella Scones

Once again, it is the first Wednesday of the month, so it's time for all Insecure Writers to stand up and be counted. There are some great bloggers participating in this monthly blog hop so it's worth popping over to Alex's blog and having a browse :)

Today I want to talk about making myself jump through hoops. 'Jumping through hoops' is a phrase we hear a lot as writers - agents with stringent submission requirements are 'making us jump through hoops', publishers that won't accept unagented submissions are 'just giving us an extra hoop to jump through.' One of the most common arguments in favour of self-publishing over traditional is simply that - 'I don't want to jump through any more freaking hoops!'

But I am a pessimist, a hypochondriac, and above all, I am an insecure writer. I like hoops.

I have blogged before about my terror of succeeding, so I'm sure you all know that you are not dealing with a sane person here.

I am not a person who trusts myself. I don't think I'm a good driver. I don't think I'm a good cook. I am convinced I will be the first person in the world who gives her family salmonella from undercooked scones.

So how does this manifest in my writing?

When I seriously started writing again after a few years of, well, not, I told myself I wouldn't query until I had written two books. My first novel was a deeply personal one, and I was scared I only had one book in me. But if I'd done it twice, I thought, I could confidently sign a contract for more than one book and trust myself to honour it.

It was a good idea. I have never queried my first novel, as it isn't strong enough, but last year's sketchy Nanowrimo idea has turned into a proper novel that I intend querying, and I trust myself to keep coming up with ideas. Now that I'm looking for them, I'm finding them.

If I hadn't given myself that space, that two-book window to learn about myself, I would have been desperately querying a substandard novel and sitting up all night chewing my fingernails and worrying about honouring a contract that I had not yet signed. (Like Charlie Brown, I am trying to only dread one day at a time).

Someone probably does need to sit me down and assure me that scones won't cause salmonella. But making myself jump through a hoop before I considered querying worked for me.

There are times when you need to learn to trust yourself.

Just hope you have a sympathetic friend who'll tell you when you're not growing anymore and you're just letting the fear win :)


  1. Didn't you know, undercooked scones can cause salmonella. Just joking :). I worry a lot, like you. Thankfully my husband is the sane one in the family who often talks me off the ledge. I'd be on medication if not for him.

  2. I'm glad there's someone else out there as bad as I am!

  3. I'm fairly confident you won't give anyone salmonella. :-)

    I do like that idea, of having two books done before querying. I think a lot of writers forget that getting one book published is just the first step in a career. Of course, it's also very easy to let the fear of what that career involves paralyse you. I know I've been guilty of fearing I won't be able to keep it up.

  4. 'There are times when you need to learn to trust yourself'.

    Thank you for this, I should have it tattooed on my forehead :-)

  5. Paul, I will hold you to that. It's now on the internet so it must be true!

    Maybe you could write about that fear for the next support group? If you don't fancy signing up I'd host a guest post on the subject :)

    Sarah, I know the feeling. Hope we can both figure it out!

  6. Enjoy your well cooked scones cos you deserve to have loads!! Take care

  7. Thanks Kitty! Good luck with the story competition :)

  8. Trusting yourself as a writer is so important, because without it there will be no work and no progression. So yes, trust yourself!

  9. Hi there! I'm a new follower. Very good post. I try to trust myself in things where writing is concerned, but sometimes that fear just creeps back in. Hoops, I think, are good. Self publishing is going to be a serious last resort for me, but I do know others who it has worked for. Good luck! And don't trip on a hoop. ;)

  10. Wow. Well said. If we all trusted ourselves a little more imagine what we could accomplish.
    Thanks for sharing.

  11. Thanks! That is a wonderful piece of advice, and perfectly timed for my writing at the moment. I have been stressing over a revision of an old WIP, and wanting to start a new one at the same time. It may be that I need to give myself permission to write what I need to write at the moment, and give the old WIP a break for a month.

  12. Trusting yourself is really important. Great advice! Thank you Ellen :)

  13. My problem is I put too many hoops. Whenever I jump through one, I put another one.

  14. Agreed, Karen!

    Hi Caledonia Lass! I agree, I'm very much in favour of hoops because I don't trust my own judgment on my own work :) I would consider self-publishing too though, but I think different publishing methods work for different people or books.

    Cheers Heather, glad you enjoyed!

    Tyrean, I think sometimes you need to rediscover the joy. I'm editing at the moment (slowly) and thinking about my next project is keeping me sane - I'll be starting the new one for Nanowrimo in a few weeks, can't wait!

    Green Monkey, I read your post and it looks like you need a little trust in yourself right now :) Hope you find it!

    Dafeenah, I worry that I'll do the same. I think that's when you need to take advice from a crit partner or trusted friend with good taste in books :)

  15. Ha! I did the same thing. I didn't query until I had one novel written and most of the 1st draft of the 2nd done. But now I've decided to side step the hoops for awhile.

  16. Crap, I only had one book when I started querying publishers. Probably why I'm stuck on the third now.

  17. Hi, new follower and fellow pessimist, hypochondriac and insecure writer here. GREAT post - I TOTALLY relate. I don't trust myself AT ALL and constantly feel the need to apologize for my work when someone new reads it. It's hard to trust yourself. But you should sit yourself down and have a stern talking to, because I'm betting your work is terrific (based on how funny your blog is). Keep at it and fight through the pessimism and salmonella-fear!!

  18. P.S. I lived in Dublin for a while. I REALLY miss it and am jealous you're there and I'm not.


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