Wednesday, December 7, 2011

December Insecure Writers Support Group

It's Insecure Writer's Support Group Day, hosted by Alex J Cavanaugh

Last month, I finished revisions to my novel.  I was so happy - it's almost impossible to describe how happy I felt.  I was smiling ear to ear - like the day I resigned from my last job after thinking I would be stuck there forever.  The feeling was complete bliss. 

I called my husband and told him the news.  He was equally happy.

I texted my daughter at school, at the risk she would have her phone confiscated - as if everyone in high school isn't carrying a phone.  She replied, "Awesome!" and I believe she meant it.

An IT recruiter called me to ask if I would like to interview for a software development job.  I said, "No.  Actually, I'm writing novels now.  In fact, I finished one today."  He said, "Congratulations!"

I posted it on Facebook and got lots of likes, mostly from my writing class friends. 

Not everyone in my family seems to understand my urge to write.  My dad thinks I should write, but only political articles, the kind he likes to read.  I think his thought is that fiction doesn't serve a purpose.  *Gasp!*

People, mostly in my family but some outside my family, give me the impression I am having delusions of grandeur, that I'm fooling myself if I think I'm ever going to write something anyone would want to pay money for, or perhaps that I'm just full of shit.  It's possible I'm reading into the looks on their faces, but writing is not something they ask me about - maybe they aren't interested because they don't get it.  Honestly, I don't get a lot of the things they spend their time on either.

Still, I wanted to spread my joy.  I wanted to scream out loud, "I finished my novel!"  I wanted to allow myself a moment where I could be proud of myself.

So I called a certain someone in my family.  She said she was too busy to talk.  I said I'll call her back later.  She said, no, she had a minute now.  I hesitated and then told her I finished my novel.  It's done.  I sent it out to people to read.  I may have some small changes after that, but it's basically done.  It's sixty-six thousand words!

Her response - Nothing.  After an awkward pause, she rattled off her to-do list for the day.

I went from an extreme high to an extreme low.  I may have apologized for calling.  I flashed back to the moments where I told this someone I got accepted into an honors college program, that I made first chair in the honors band, that I got one promotion after the next at work until there were no more promotions to be had, and on and on.  With every achievement, I got the same response as little Gru in Despicable Me: "Eh."

I called my husband and cried like a six year old.  I told him I thought things had changed in that relationship, but it hadn't.  He talked me up from my low to a place a little bit lower than I was before, but still a good place. 

I accept the limitations of this certain someone.  It sucks though.  Writing is such a long and difficult process.  Finishing a novel is like crossing the finish line on a course that is infinitely long.  It would be nice to have this special someone at the finish line, but that's not going to happen.

I'm sure this lack of recognition is the thing that drives me forward, that motivates me to achieve goals, but I would prefer to be motivated by positive energy.

I scream this out to you, fellow insecure writers:  I finished my novel!  I did it!


  1. Congratulations on finishing your novel!! It is an awesome feeling, isn't it?
    You know, I get looks all the time from people when I tell them I write. Then I get the look of pity when I tell them the genre. My mother doesn't know where I got the passion to write or the talent to actually draw something other than stick figures. Certainly wasn't from the other side of the family.
    I have two people in my family that I have told about my getting published. One of them gave me a half-hearted "good job." and the other ignored it altogether. I mean, this is my family for pity's sake. My supposed to be support and all they could think about was why I didn't answer a question they had sent me on FaceBook. Whatever.
    Very good post though and trust me, I know how you feel. :)

  2. I will say a big congratulations!
    In the future, just avoid that person. She's a joy-suck.
    Sometimes people don't want to hear about our accomplishments because it makes them realize they aren't trying to accomplish anything.
    Stay excited, Tonja!

  3. I think that's AMAZING. NO ONE but another writer understands quite what that means - even the people who love us. I'm sorry you didn't get what you wanted from a certain someone (I had a similar experience myself when I finished), but I think you're amazing for what you accomplished. Keep reminding yourself of that.

  4. I have a relative like that "certain someone" in my life too. I'm so sorry that happened to you--I know how terrible those things can feel.

    Just know how AMAZING you are. What you've done is something to be proud of--I know I'm proud of you :)

  5. Caledonia - I can't imagine getting that reaction after getting published.

    Alex - I should have known better. It sucks to not be able to share happy moments with family.

    SL - Thanks for the support. You are right, only other writers get the work it takes to finish a novel.

    Elisabeth - Thank you! You too. :)

  6. Sounds like a typical muggle conversation.


  7. Tonja, I am so thrilled for you, and I know, your road has not been an easy one! No matter what obstacles have come your way, you've fought to follow your dreams. Be proud and celebrate with your loved ones! Think about the joy you'll feel, when you hold that book in your hand, and the fact that you can tell your children to never be afraid to follow their dreams. Rise above all this senseless negativity, because you've earned the right to stand proud!

  8. Go T!!! So happy for you that I want to get on the chair and shout WITH you.


  9. well excuse ME but FUCK YA!!!! congratulations! I am in awe and inspired by you. Keep going... keep teaching... keep inspiring. xoMOnkeyME

  10. Hugs. I'm glad you finished your novel. I'm hear to cheer you on but also to remind you to keep your feet firmly planted on the ground. Writing is a tough mistress and doesn't pay off at all very often.

  11. LG - I love the muggle analogy. My kids just clued me in on what a howler is...I'm glad yours was happy. :)

    Empty Nester - Thank you. That was a lovely thing to say. My kids are very proud.

    Mary - That would be AWESOME!

    Green Monkey - Thank you...I think - I've never heard the F word used so positively before.

    Michael - Thanks. I just finished it - didn't get it published yet. Either way, I'm really glad I did it.

  12. It is a wonderful accomplishment to finish. Don't let anyone tell you different. Don't let anyone steal your joy. Even family. The sacrifices, the hours, the pain, the heart you put into those words are your pride and joy.

  13. I know that some people just don't seem to understand. Oh how I know. Congrats! If you partake in adult beverages, then please pop one open and enjoy. I'll do the same, er, on your behalf.

  14. Heather - You're absolutely right. No one can take my joy unless I let them.

  15. YAY! You finished your novel! That's great, awesome, and completely amazing of you. That's what that person should have said. I'm so sorry she didn't. I'm sorry that she is so jealous - yes, that's what she is - that she couldn't bring herself to let go of her own insecurities and congratulate you on your success. So CONGRATULATIONS! You deserve it.

    Author of Concilium, available July 2012
    Concilium: The Departure, November 2012

  16. CONGRATULATIONS!!! Good Luck For the others.
    Some people are cerebrally challenged and cannot understand the effort and creativity that goes into into any art or even science for that matter.
    Don't let them them get to you...your hubby seems to care and that is a good thing, mine never did...the constant put downs, which is why I gave writing for almost a decade.
    I learnt the hard way to Never let others' jealousy or disinterest overwhelm, life is too short for such nonsense to rule our lives.

  17. Sending along huge congratulations ... Writing is such a journey, and it takes lots of commitment to get to the point you're at. Enjoy your accomplishment, and happy writing to you :)

  18. Congrats! on the milestone. Take the time to rest, reflect, and celebrate. 66,000 words is huge! And I love that movie Despicable Me!

  19. It is definitely something worth shouting about. It's a huge achievement. Congrats!

  20. Michelle - Thank you. I think she just didn't get it.

    Rek - I don't think I could handle put-downs from my husband.

    Joanne - Thank you. Happy writing to you too. :)

    Stephen - I love the movie too. Thanks.

    Lynda - At least I feel like I shouted it here. Now it's time to get back to work.

  21. Wooo hooooo! Congrats, Tonja! One thing we have to accept: there our people in our lives who won't support us or get what we do. Thank goodness for the internet where we can find folks who do. :)