Questioning Yourself #AtoZChallenge #AprilA2Z ‘Q’


Q button for A2Z Challenge
green question markQuestioning yourself. Not so much about whether you’re right or wrong, but your abilities. I do this all the time.

In fact, after Liar’s League back in March, I came home and asked Dave (bearing in mind he was in bed and trying to sleep) if he thought I was a snob. I asked him this because I listened to those stories and left the venue adamant that I could do better. Convinced that if I were to submit something that it would stand a pretty good chance of being selected as a performance piece because my writing is of a better calibre. That’s what was in my head.
So I came home, all twitchy and nervous trying to figure out if that made me snobbish, confident or arrogant. Or all three.

I still haven’t figured it out, but I do feel that this isn’t what most folk worry about when they question themselves. It certainly wasn’t what I had in mind when I picked the title of this blog post.

I wanted to talk about insecurity and whether or not I’m good enough for what I’m trying to do and if, in actual fact, Raven and I have made a huge mistake.

Talk about a switch.

I still want to discuss those things because they’re linked. It does all come back to self-confidence.

I decided to self publish when I got sick of the repeated rejections of agents who ‘liked what they saw’ or ‘couldn’t place the story’ or ‘didn’t think there was a market’ for my ideas. I also saw the success of other self published authors and realised, control hog that I am, that this is probably a better route for me. I can go as fast or as slow as I like, decide on what goes what way and all the risk is mine. Meaning that all the success is mine too. I liked that part.

But am I good enough to do it? Do I have enough time to do it? Will I earn enough to make it viable? Is it fair to keep writing in the time I do have spare, rather than looking for more reliable part time work to help support my family?

These are questions I battle with every day and I still don’t have enough answers.

cute cartoon penguine at a computer from OpenClipArtThere’s no pressure from Dave for me to go back to the 9-5 grind. He certainly prefers that I’m here with the boys, rather than working, being miserable and then spending all the money I do earn on childcare (which is exactly what would happen). There’s no pressure from any body else either; just praise and pride that I’m doing something that they either wish they could do, or know I’ve wanted to do for a very long time.

This is another one of those things were the problem is all in me.

Am I good enough?
No idea. I’ll find out as I go.

Do I have enough time to do it?
Not really, but you make time for the things you love, don’t you?

Will I earn enough to make it viable?
I’m not JK Rowling or Stephen King, but I will, one day be able to pay bills with my writing. I’ve already done that with non-fiction pieces, so I know it is possible.

Is it fair to keep writing in the time I do have spare, rather than looking for more reliable part time work to help support my family?
See above. 😛

Heh, okay… then what about my reaction to the Liar’s League writers?

What do you think? Am I snobbish, confident or arrogant? Or all three?
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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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11 Responses to Questioning Yourself #AtoZChallenge #AprilA2Z ‘Q’

  1. Interesting question.

    Firstly, I think it depends on how willing you are to engage with the writers who, in your estimation, are falling short of the mark. I guess being a snobbish writer is all about placing yourself in a particular bracket and only including and helping others to get to where you are, at your whim. Which doesn’t sound like you.

    I think that being a bit arrogant and confident do go hand in hand with being a writer. That is, if they’re guided by good criticism.

    If you have a check list of things you would like to do better and you tick almost everything in your efforts, then arrogance helps you produce a well-crafted story. Having a nebulous idea of being able to do better but not having a measure of improvement is not so useful.

    And well, you almost always have a check list, some definite thoughts on how you can improve things.

    Taking criticism does test your confidence. If you come up with a story and the readers aren’t as wild about it as you would like, it leaves you with doubts. Similarly, throughout the process, you may second-guess yourself. Confidence (and I suppose also arrogance) allows you to set aside those doubts and get back to work, taking to heart some of the things you have learned and doing things better.

    Having confidence also allows you to approach other writers with criticism. It may not be welcome, but hopefully it is and maybe either way it gets through and creates a positive change.

    Confidence is something which will need fine tuning as you go along. The more challenging a project you set yourself, the more you will need. I have no doubt that you will succeed at what you set your mind to, though as always there may be setbacks, even failure to overcome.

    Hope that’s useful. 🙂

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    • ^_^ Thanks, hon.

      I love talking with other writers and helping them out. I don’t have a special qualification or a certificate that says I know anything, but I have been doing this for a little while and if I can pass on some of the things I’ve learned then I love to do that. I wouldn’t be where I am if others hadn’t done that for me. And I certainly don’t see the point in restricting that help to a certain ‘calibre’ of writer; that’s just silly.

      I think there is definitely a little bit of narcissism which goes with being a writer – there has to be – but finding that balance is important and you’re right; using criticism (of the constructive kind) to guide you is really handy.

      I’m constantly second guessing myself with this urban fantasy piece. One of the posts I have planned for later in the A2Z challenge is a (virtually whole) chapter I took out because I thought it didn’t help the story. It wasn’t the writing that bothered nme so much as the contribution to the plot. But I still don’t know if it was the right decision. Maybe I’ll never know.

      Waaaah. I think the long and short of it is; you’re right. I probably (!) will get where I want to be after a long, hard slog and lots of trips and falls.
      Though I’m starting to understand that my queries about my own arrogance/confidence/snobbery, are just another manifestation of my lack of confidence. For surely if I were ‘happier’ with what I do, I’d be content in the knowledge that I’m justified in my feelings about the liar’s league crew.

      Ugh. I’ve just talked myself round in a circle.

      *gets dizzy, falls over.*

      Like

  2. sallyedmans says:

    As someone who knows you from a world outside of writing (Orin Rakatha, to be precise) this is an interesting question. You don’t come across as definitively any of those three to me. More confident than arrogant or snobbish, but you seem to have more doubts than you deserve. This might be due to rejections from agents and/or publishers, but remember they are swamped and I was told years ago that they don’t praise work unless it’s worthy of praise. If they’re telling you they liked the story, chances are good that they actually did.

    If we can just step back to Orin Rakatha for a moment, it works as quite a good analogy. It rocks. We know it rocks. The 200-odd other people who visit know it rocks. And yet the other 63 million people in the country just don’t get it. Most fantasy writing is a bit like that. We know it rocks. Many other people know it rocks (more than 200). But society at large just doesn’t get it. That doesn’t mean it’s any less valid, just that because it has a smaller audience than, say, generic chick lit less money is put into producing it each year. Terry Pratchett will take up a corner of that small sliver. A larger chunk will be eaten by whatever Sky have turned into a TV series this year. And the space that’s left for new and emerging authors just isn’t big enough.

    But just as more people are realising Orin Rakatha rocks, and they’ve had to increase the number of player spaces and even expand into Port Olympia, people are starting to realise fantasy literature rocks. I think I should be thanking Sky for this, but I’m not sure why. As more people come over to the awesome side, there will be more space available for fantasy books. And if you’ve already built up a reasonable fanbase through self-publishing, you may even find that when the time comes that publishers realise the geeks are the ones who buy the expensive, shiny, hardback, limited edition copies with all the bells and whistles and merch, you’re in a stronger place to bargain.

    My personal opinion about mums returning to work is that it’s very often not worth it. If you’ve got friends on a babysitting rota, very helpful parents (thank goodness for my MIL, should the time ever come) or you’re happy to work the shifts your partner doesn’t so that you don’t have to pay for childcare, it can sometimes work. Sometimes you end up shattered, divided, missing your partner and just plain grumpy. If you’ve got to pay for childcare – especially two lots of childcare – it just seems that you’re working for Peter to pay Paul. And the taxman. I know I don’t have firsthand experience of this, but I’ve got my 11 nieces and nephews, and a swathe of friends, and they’ve all told me the same stories.

    So now that I’ve effectively written a blog post of my own, here’s the short version: Don’t stop doing something you love for a little gain and potential momentum to start doing something you’re not fussed about for a little or no gain and a step away from your passion. Life’s too short, and we only get one.

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    • I’ve never thought about it that way before. And you’re right; Orin Rakatha is pretty damn cool! Can’t wait to go back… I know I won’t make it in May, but July… I should be all ready to go. *fist pump*

      Today I had another of those moments where I was furious at the lack of ‘work’ I had done. Because earning from writing is such a ‘slow burn’ it’s highly frustrating waiting for some of the £££s to kick in. Particularly when I might want to do small things like go to the cinema or buy an Easter egg. The large things (like going to Jamaica with my sister and mother next month *sob*) are totally out of the question. That’s the part that makes me question what I’m doing.

      But you’re right (and reading your comment yesterday made me cry a tiny bit, which is why I had to wait to respond).

      One life is all we get. There’s no point in wasting it.
      Yes, there ARE some things one HAS to do to ensure one can live, eat and pay bills. But giving up some of those smaller things is a small price to pay for doing what I’ve wanted to do for so long. And my family are well fed, warm, comfortable and happy. What do I really have to worry about, eh?

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      • sallyedmans says:

        Yay! I can’t make the May one either, but am gearing myself up towards July.

        And if you ever seriously consider going back to the day job, crunch the numbers carefully first. A friend of mine, who can budget to the penny, is expecting her first and worked out the maths. If she puts the baby into a nursery and goes to work she will end up worse off. Her wage will cover the cost of care, but her other half will pay her travel expenses and even her tax and NI. If you’ve got a vocation that can pay quite well (my SIL the GP springs to mind) it might be worth it, but lots of office jobs just aren’t.

        Like

        • Certainly wouldn’t be for us. 😦 even worked out roughly it just makes no sense. Not for two kids.
          And my rational head knows that.

          But… The part of me that is sick of being looked at with pity/scorn/distaste/confusion/wonder/anger kinda wants to go back to work. Even if it would be miserable and financially stupid. O.o

          Weird, right?

          Like

        • sallyedmans says:

          I can’t reply to the message above, so please excuse the new reply.

          I know exactly where you’re coming from about going back to work, even though it’s a mistake. I haven’t worked since 2008, at which point I was nearly hospitalised after one month of part time office admin. I am significantly worse now than I was then, but I still keep trying to find a job I think I could do. Going back to work for me could be suicide – I simply can’t do it unless I go into proper remission. But yet I keep trying to find some work, some sense of purpose, because our society judges us by our occupation. All the while I am long-term unemployed due to ill health I get the looks of pity, the judgement, the misery etc. Perhaps if I could just operate a checkout for a day each week, I would be happier? I almost certainly would end up in hospital very quickly, but at least people would have some kind of respect for me, right? It sounds stupid, and it is stupid, but it’s not the fault of the sick, the unemployed, the stay-at-home mum – it’s the fault of a society who assesses worth based on your job title rather than how much you actually contribute to life, society, family and so on. What job could be more important to our society than raising the next generation? Full time mums have one of the hardest jobs, the most vital job, and the least paid and least respected job. And that sucks. But the problem isn’t with you, it’s with anyone who turns their nose up at you.

          Like

        • Thank you, sweetie. It’s so so hard but you know. And more people than I realise also know how hard it is too.

          We have to do what’s best for ourselves and our families, no matter what society thinks. They aren’t the ones who have to make the decisions that affect our health/relationships.

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  3. I don’t think it’s snobbish to think you can do better than others. You need to have that confidence in order to persevere and succeed. I tend to lose confidence at inconvenient times and end up self-sabotaging.

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    • Despite the occasional loss of confidence, I think recognising self-sabotage is really positive.
      Especially because I’m not certain that I see that in myself. I genearlly thing ‘one more edit will do it,’ or ‘leave it to rest for a month or two before fixing it’ which might be the case. Or it might be me avoiding tackling the true issue with the writing in question because I’m scared to.

      I’m at a point where I just can’t tell the difference any more. So I kinda just hammer at it until I get completely exhausted and then move on to the next thing.

      But it’s balance again, isn’t it? Confidence feeds into the ability to push on, brush aside the failures and eventually hit that success.

      Thanks for stopping by; it’s nice to know I’m not alone in the dips in confidence.

      Like

  4. Pingback: April A2Z 2014 Roundup (& I Haz Planz – wc 01/05) | Writing: A Conversation Without Interruptions

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