Posts Tagged ‘self-esteem’

Do all writers lose their minds?  Surely not, but if such a high number of the famous ones go mad, I’m guessing that an even higher percentage of the lesser known writers tinker in madness.

Way before I even dreamed of writing professionally I had a certain fascination with the lunacy of the world’s great writers.  Talents like Petronius, Pound, Hemingway, and Nietzsche, who, for valid reasons or not, descended into madness, shortening their lives and their portfolios, forever robbing the world of what might have been.

Woolf.  Mayakofsky, Pavese.  Berryman.

It’s no secret that writers are susceptible to severe depression.  There are even surveys and studies that say so –

http://www.theguardian.com/books/2010/dec/13/writers-depression-top-10-risk

http://www.elizabethmoon.com/writing-depression.html

Hans Christian Andersen. Truman Capote. Charles Dickens. Henry James.

Does one need to be depressed to be a writer, or does writing merely lead one into depression?

Celan.  Sexton.  Plath.  Brautigan.

In the publishing world of today, writer’s often find themselves spending more time in selling themselves to the public than they do in producing written material.  Blogging, queries, synopses, bios, blogging, queries, synopses, bios. Rejection, rejection, rejection.  All of this leads to more self-evaluation than is necessary for most people.  It is easy to see how one’s self-image gets tanked through the 21st century publishing process.

This leads me to believe that the problem writers face with depression may be greater than ever before.  Writers of past centuries were not nearly as exposed to criticism and rejection as the writers of today.

Gray.  Wallace.  Thompson.  Kane.

It is important to keep your perspective as a writer.  It is important to keep your perspective as a human being.  You are just one tiny element in a grandiose world of mortal objects.  We want to feel important, yet what we do is really not all that important, except to those that are closest to us while we’re here.

Sometimes, for perspective, I like to stop what I’m doing and spend a moment with one of my pets.

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Ashes, the EMS Cat, at age one.

Ashes doesn’t care if I get published.  She doesn’t care what I say as long as I’m not yelling at her.  She just wants me to feed her and stroke her fur once in a while… and she wants to be able to crap in a clean box of litter, too.

Sigh.

I’m still sane, at least for the moment.

Stay sane, writers.

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As writers, we struggle every day with our image.  If we’re not writing then we’re thinking about our writing and what others are thinking about our writing, holding our breath as we click on the comments or open the email, worried that the criticism will be negative.  We exhale audibly when it isn’t… grit our teeth when it is.

Many critics, qualified or not, will always find the good.  “Keep at it,” or “You’re almost there,” or “I like your snarky sense of humor.”

Many critics, qualified or not, won’t.  “That’s interesting,” is the BEST compliment they can offer.  “That’s interesting,” is about the worst thing someone can say about your writing.

Does any of it really matter?  Who are YOU to judge my work… and who the hell am I to judge yours?  Should I worry about whether or not you like my article any more than whether or not you like my Christmas sweater?

Case in point:  When I was in grammar school, I was pretty darn close to the boys who lived across the street from me.  One is a year older than me, the other a year younger.  When I was about ten years old, they moved across town and our relationship, although still intact, diminished in frequency of visits and such.  By the end of high school, we seldom talked.

After another ten years or so had passed, I made attempts to contact those old boys.  Those attempts were ignored… and I didn’t think much about it.  Then, with the advent of social media, the means I use to connect with people I hadn’t EVER spoken to while in school, my attempts at rekindling our friendship were rejected.

What had I done to them so long ago?  What is wrong with me?  Why would they shun me so?  Maybe they didn’t like my Christmas sweater?

More years passed.

Recently, an uncle of those boys passed away.  My wife, through her employer, knows the deceased’s wife pretty well, and they had become pretty good friends over the years.  In order to support her friend, my wife and I attended the funeral.  Of course, we’d long known of the widow’s association to those former friends of mine, but my showing up at the funeral was a complete surprise to them.

The greeting I received was cold, at best.  That’s okay, I wasn’t there for them anyway.

My wife and I spent nearly an hour at the funeral, socializing with a few of the mourners, and I had a good amount of time to observe my former friends socializing with their extended family.

Now, this post is supposed to be about me.  It’s supposed to be about how I feel about myself and how others see me as a writer.  It is not intended as a passive-aggressive assault on some former friends who wouldn’t talk to me.

They’re standing off to one side, talking to each other.  They’re greeting their OWN FAMILY as they greeted me.  They’re having difficulty engaging in conversation with their own kin.

HOLY SHIT, THEY’RE SOCIAL MORONS.

See, sometimes, when you’re sure it’s about you, it isn’t about you at all.

This doesn’t mean that you should blow off criticism as the advice of an idiot.  Criticism can be the meteor that changes history.  But if the criticism isn’t of the constructive kind, then it’s best to consider the source, rather than the words.

Believe in yourself.  Have faith in YOU.  You can accomplish anything you want, regardless of what others say.

I have never owned nor worn a Christmas sweater, by the way.

SELLING ME!

Posted: February 6, 2014 in Writing
Tags: , , , , ,

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I’ve never been a good salesman.  Long ago I made a few attempts at being a salesman and I failed every time.  If someone offered me a job today as a salesman, saying, “I’ll pay you $2,000 per week PLUS commission,” I’d turn it down.  Why?  Because I’m 43, I know myself, and I know better.  I would make $4,000 in two weeks and then they’d fire me for not selling a single unit.  Dang, though!  $4,000!  That was good while it lasted.

I’m a bad salesman.

This applies to selling “me” as well.  I’ve never been comfortable promoting myself — “Hey!  Hey!  You!  Look at me!  LOOK AT MEEEE!”

Now, I’m in my fourth year as a devoted Facebook user, and I’ll admit that I promote myself plenty in that forum…  pics of me and the kids;  I was EMT of the year; been a non-smoker for four years now; look at this casserole I made.

“14 friends like your tuna casserole.”

But as my blog here tells you, I’m an aspiring author.  That means I’ve written something and nobody knows it, except those people in my friends list on Facebook.

“33 friends like your manuscript.”  Hmm… that’s good.  My book is better than my casserole.

As an aspiring author, I know much about the outside circle of the publishing business.  I say “outside” because I haven’t been invited inside yet.  All of the material I’ve read about how to get your book published contains a section or two about preparing the world for your authorship.  Is that a word?  Authorship?  If not, spell-check missed it.

When the time comes for a query letter or 50 and a three page synopsis I’m supposed to tell the world, or at least the literary agents, about my writing history.  Well, I’ve written a lot.  A LOT!  But I really can’t show you any of it because it’s not the kind of stuff for which you gain credit.  My biggest current project involves re-writing the by-laws for The Hartland Firefighters Association, of which I am President.  Wanna read my synopsis?

You might already be on to me, but we’ve come to the reason for this blog.  I’ve created this site because the publishing world tells me that “selling myself” is necessary if I am to get my manuscript published.  So here I am.  Look at me!  Please, look at me.

My site has been functional for less than 48 hours, but already I am noticing that there are stark differences between the types of interactions on WordPress and those on Facebook and Twitter.  Earlier today, I received a message from a woman who was thrilled to have received a “like” from me on one of her posts, and as a result, she read one of my posts and therefore gave me a “like,” as well.

This made my day.  Don’t try to detect any sarcasm here, because it’s non-existent.  I am being 100% serious.  1 Like = 1 made day.

There’s a video on YouTube that’s been trending of a kid who calls himself “Sir Fedora” celebrating the fact that he received his first like on one of his videos.   He, too, is sincere about the importance of the “like.”  In his words, “It’s still awesome that I know that you guys are there.”  I’m glad I’m not the only one who feels this way.  To see the video, copy and paste:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vZcDjcaSHvc

I mean, I don’t mind being candid with all of you.  Bloggers blog because they want people to read their blog, right?  Writers write to be read.  We might be writing about a topic we love in a genre we love but in the end, we’re looking for attention, aren’t we?  It would be tragic if we wrote our hearts out and there was nobody there to see the end result.

Perhaps I’m showing too much vulnerability to the blogging world here.  That’s okay.  Certainly every serious writer deals with self-esteem and self-image issues.  Personally, I can’t think of too many things that can make a person feel more bi-polar than writing a book.  Besides, I don’t think I’ve crossed any lines or anything.  It’s not like I’ve begged anyone for a “like,” or worse yet, a “follow.”  Dang — one follow has got to be worth at least five likes, don’t ya think?  Maybe I’ll consider begging after all.  Okay… okay… I already DID consider it.  I won’t beg.

(LOOK AT ME!)

Anyway, send me a friend request on Facebook, would ya?  I’ll show you my tuna casserole.