Shaken Confidence


This Fifty Shades of Grey thing is doing my nut. I’ve been reading the triology, happily (in the loosest possible meaning of the term) for a day and a bit and I can see so much of my earlier writing style in what EL James has done. The choice to use first person, using present tense (something I only EVER do with roleplay posts now), the cluttered and clunky sentences, the contrived metaphors and imagery. Its all there and though I recognise it, which is good on one level, on another I’ve started to question if I’ve stepped as far away from that as I really think.

A lot of my flash (for the A-Z Challenge) is first person. If I’m writing something quickly, it tends to be the easiest choice, and then, if I’m returning to it, I’ll often switch to third person. Most of the flash from that challenge hasn’t been edited yet; I’ve held onto it so I can edit as I start to go over the entries here on the blog. But I have been reading them. Particularly since I’ve been using them for Six Sentence Sunday offerings for the past few weeks and because a few of them are erotic.

I can’t decide how I feel about them. I look at the words and some days I’m thrilled with them and other days I have to fight not to delete the file from my computer. Its a bizarre sort of conflict and it stems from my desire not necessarily to be successful, but from the desire to be remembered as a good writer. Deep down, making tonnes of sales and having every body talk about my work would be wonderful, but that’s not what I’m here for. I certainly don’t want to be remembered for selling lots of dross. I want to be remembered for writing good prose with interesting, well rounded characters and believable dialogue.

I’m sure this is one of those days that I just need to ignore the little voice at the back of my mind. I mean surely all authors have to have some measure of pride or conceitedness about them – or else we’d never write and expect/hope/pray that people will read what we have written. But the voice that tells me ‘you’re doing okay,’ has been very quiet for the past couple of days.

How do you guys deal with flagging confidence? Is it something that bothers you or have you found a way to stomp on that little voice at the back of your mind and tell it to leave you the hell alone?

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About Ileandra Young

I'm a thirty-*mumbles* year old (purple loving, cheese worshipping) author of fantasy, juggling a pair of beautiful twin boys with my burning desire to make up stories and write them all down. When I get the chance, I play games, listen to music, and in days long past I even ran a radio show. Though I occasionally write non-fiction, my heart lives in fantasy and my debut novel, Silk Over Razor Blades is now available through Amazon along with part two of the trilogy, Walking The Razor's Edge.
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10 Responses to Shaken Confidence

  1. Kana Tyler says:

    I’m no good at stomping on that voice… But my HUSBAND is. Sometimes when I’m struggling on a piece that I think is totally worthless, I’ll finally throw up my hands and ask him to read my crap… And he’ll read it, and gently poke fun at me for getting all wound up, and tell me precisely what type of reactions I’ll be getting from readers. (Danged if he doesn’t hit it right on the nose, every time.) And then once in a while he’ll point out why he feels it’s NOT (yet) working–which helps me believe that he’s not blowing sunshine up my ass the rest of the time. Maybe we all need one reader like that, because we get way too tangled up in our own heads to READ our own writing when we’re in the middle of it. πŸ˜‰

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    • I must admit my partner is quite good for that. He doesn’t necessarily read in the genre I write, but he understands the mechanics of appealing to an audience and so on. He can get into the head of my potential readership which is quite helpful.
      πŸ™‚ I think I may need to utilise him a little more; he’s certainly not afraid to tell me if he thinks something does work, but he’s also able to tell me WHY. And that’s the most valuable part.

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  2. bwtaylor75 says:

    I think only you can answer what to do with the nagging voice. It’s great that you can spot poor writing and why you believe it to be poor. You are clearly learning and growing as a writer. Whenever I read a bad book it serves as motivation. If E. L. James can get published, why not me?

    I’d say hold on to that drive for perfection. Even though we probably won’t find perfection in our writing, we should strive to be the best writer we can be. And don’t delete anything. You can always go back and tweak or edit those pieces.

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    • Motivation; that’s exactly how I’ve treated Twilight. If Stephanie Meyer can massacre the vampire myth like that, surely I can go out there with a vampire novel and be received well.
      And thank you – it is a struggle not to delete those pieces on short days, but so far I’ve been able to stop myself. I feel, deep inside, that I’d regret it a great deal if I did.

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  3. 4amWriter says:

    POV is a big decision to make, and one that should be done before you even write the story, IMO. I usually write in third-person because sometimes I think first-person POV tends to sound simplified and the voice lacks depth and character. I also don’t think it is possible to use literary devices like metaphors/imagery as much in first-person–and I love playing with language.

    That’s awesome that you have a trusted loved one that you can bounce your work off. I don’t have that, so I have to really be tough on myself when I need to be, and be willing to pat myself on the back when I deserve it.

    Take heart in that the Shades book isn’t written well. That means you still get your turn. πŸ™‚

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    • Aha! Indeed, I still get my turn and my partner came up with a truly wicked idea that I can’t wait to try out. Can’t say when, but I’ll bet I can give the Shades trilogy a run for its money.
      Bwa ha ha ha hha hahaaa ha haaaaaaa!

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  4. jmmcdowell says:

    If you’d like some company for this post, check out what I put up today. πŸ™‚

    Self-doubt gets ALL of us, some more than others. It gets me a lot. For every day I think I did a good job, there are two or more where I think it’s rubbish.

    Third person is easier for me to write, but when first person is done well, the results are usually stellar. But I believe third person gives us more options for telling the story. It’s easier, for example to have several POV characters with third person. Personally, I enjoy books with multiple POV, as long as I can keep the characters straight. (Hint to self for my own books!)

    And definitely I second the advice not to delete! Even if you decide to make major revisions to the story, save a copy of the earlier version. You never know what you could recycle in another work.

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    • Great post; its nice to know I’m not alone. On some level I know full well that I’m not, but that the reminder that other people are in the same boat as me lightens the load a great deal.
      And you’re right about POV. I think the Shades books would have been a great deal more powerful if they were freer in that respect; being restricted to one POV made it weaker and boring.

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  5. Writerlious says:

    I think we all struggle with this as writers. And I’ve done exactly the same thing you’re doing: read a popular book and think, what is this drivel? I can write better than this! Then, when you’re in the midst of it, and you’re re-reading your latest piece, you wonder, is this better? Does it suck? Am I worse, even?

    There’s an awesome quote by Ira Glass that gives me confidence. It says that we become writers because we have good taste. We’re like foodies, but with books. But, early in our careers, we become dissatisfied with our work BECAUSE of our good taste. Because we have the idea in our head, but we aren’t able to execute it as well as we want to. That comes in time, and we just have to believe and remain confident that with every passing month and year, we’re improving, learning, honing our craft.

    That’s what I tell myself anyway. And to make myself feel better, I just say, “If not this novel, it’ll be the next one.” And I keep on writing.

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    • That is an interesting way to think about it. Relating anything to food makes me feel better! πŸ˜‰

      Even since starting this blog and reading comments and interacting with other bloggers I know that I’ve grown so much. It just takes a bit of effort to remind myself sometimes. Maybe I put too much pressure on myself, I don’t know. I’m not known for taking it easy when it comes to self critique.

      That is probably the best advice though; keep on writing. If only because its impossible to do something over and over and over and not improve, right? πŸ˜‰

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