Wednesday, July 31, 2013

IWSG - August 2013



If you aren't already on the list, stop over at Alex's blog and visit the list of writers either spilling it about their insecurities or offering words of encouragement.


* * * * * * * *
 
 
Are we more insecure than other people? 

I'm not so sure.  I think some people make it their life's work to hide their insecurities and weaknesses.  The fact is that if you show weakness in some work environments (like the ones I've been in), you become weak in people's eyes.  People constantly judge their co-workers' or employees' competence.  Constantly.  (If you haven't been in one of these work environments, good for you, seriously.)

I think people become good at hiding their weaknesses and faking their competencies, pretending to be more than they are for fear of ridicule (or unemployment).  They rely on other people to make them look good or avoid situations that will showcase their flaws.  Or they simply challenge other people publicly to shift the focus away from themselves. 

But we writerly types can't hide behind other people.  Our work is our work.  We can't fake it or blame someone else.  If we put a comma in the wrong place or misuse a word, we can't really blame the keyboard or the spellcheck. If we write less than perfect dialogue or aren't stellar with point of view or write a story with a few loose ends (or one of the dozens of other things we can do badly without realizing it), it's our weakness out there for everyone to see.

Despite all this, we have an odd compulsion to tell it the way we see it and express our insecurities even if it makes us seem a little more naked than we meant to be in such a public way. 

I think the bottom line is that no one can measure up all the time.  No one can be the image of their ideal self - for us, the ideal writer.  There will always be another writer that wrote something so amazing we will feel like we can never get close to it.  We will never get that novel to the point of perfection where we wouldn't change a word (although I'm certain I'm not alone in striving for it).

No matter how much we think we're being clear in the way we've painted the picture of a scene that's perfect in our minds and to our ears, someone will simply not get it.  They won't know what the hell we're talking about.  (This may be one of those times.) 

I think we have to hold onto what we know are our strengths and repeat them to ourselves like a mantra. 

For me, I know I have a gift for creating quirky characters.  I was one of those quiet kids that constantly watched people, trying to figure them out.  As a young adult, I realized I'm one of those people that's a magnet to the mentally ill.  (Note to self to write a story about that.)  Now that I'm not at all a young adult, I feel like I do a good job bringing these oddball characters to life.

What is your gift as a writer, one thing you know you do well that's indisputable?

* * * * *
 
 I have a migraine today.  I'll return any comments as soon as it eases up - hopefully tomorrow.

36 comments:

  1. If we mess up, everyone sees it.
    I'm good with relationships. Not sure why, but I'm better at it on the page than in real life.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hmmm. I bet you are good with them in reality too. :)

      Delete
  2. Umm, I think I need to think hard about what I do well! Must be something ......right? LOL
    Suzanne @ Suzannes-Tribe

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, there's definitely something!

      Delete
  3. I'm good at knowing what the characters are thinking, even before the writer knows it themselves.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes. When I'm reading other peep's WIP. :)

      Delete
  4. Poor baby. Hope your headache is gone by now, Tonja. And I agree, most people do hide their insecurities. Don't want to be seen as weak. I wish I were better at acting confidently.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's better today - kind of borderline. I think one scream from my small loud child will put me over.

      But your openness and honesty is what comes through in your writing. That's a strength.

      Delete
  5. I had a sinus migraine this am but its gone now. I hope your goes away too.

    You're right about how we have to put it all out there. It certainly leaves one vulnerable. I would say my strength is plotting. I can tell a hell of a story--which I think is important, right? LOL!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I absolutely agree that plotting is an excellent strength to have as a writer.

      Delete
  6. Sorry about the migraine! I suffer from them too. Hope you feel better soon. Even with the headache you managed to write a fabulous post. I really enjoyed it.

    In my life, personal and writing, I don't hide anything. I tend to stand there striped down and put it all out there, for better or for worse. I'm not sure if that's a good thing or bad thing, (LOL) but most people say they really appreciate my honesty.

    I don't know what I do well when it comes to writing, but I write the same way I talk. When I tell a story, I litter it with details; they help me paint a picture. And I tend to be pretty long winded. Again, I'm not sure if that's a good thing or bad thing, LOL But I can tell you this, I've had my friends meet each other and they all say, "I feel like I already know you from how Jen described you". I guess that's a good thing, right?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I actually wrote and posted this a week early and then retracted and reposted it. Lucky thing. I would have just had a one line whine if I hadn't written it early.

      I think your voice and honest, stripped down quality comes through in your blog posts. Definitely a good thing.

      Delete
  7. I'm sorry about your migraine. I hope it eases soon.
    I love to write dialogue and people have said I'm good at it. I like to think they are right but I'm too insecure to say it with certainty. :D

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. LOL. I sucked at dialogue when I first started writing fiction but took my CPs feedback - and my daughter's feedback - and improved. Now I would consider it a strength.

      Delete
  8. I think writing makes us insecure because, like the eyes, it really is a window into our soul if done right.

    Maybe my best skill as a writer is dialogue. It's always fun to read (okay, almost always) :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's a beautiful way to put it.

      Delete
  9. Great post. And so true. That's why I wish every writer had a trusted critique partner they could show their work to, even when it's not perfect, and get honest feedback about how to make it better. It's an invaluable asset to have someone you can trust your most vulnerable work to and know they are only trying to help you improve it. And apparently I'm really good at the simile. So good I can't stop putting them in. It's like...oh, nevermind. :P

    Hope you feel better soon.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A great CP is like .... No, I have nothing. The migraine meds drain my creativity.

      Delete
  10. I agree with the above comments, great post. I definitely enjoyed reading it.

    I am going to have to say that my strength is humor. I am hilarious! Anyone that says otherwise, is just jealous that my jokes get more laughs than theirs.

    Just kidding, but really—I am hilarious. I'll let you read my book as proof... when I finish it. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Angelique, I can't get to your blog post through your Google+ page.

      Delete
  11. Most people are insecure, but artists tend to not suffer in silence because if they did, they'd make no art. The very fact that we need to express ourselves with words means we are more likely to express a feeling that other people bury.

    My gift as a writer? I am pretty funny. I can write even dark and sad things in a way that is bittersweet and often hilarious. I feel like I know exactly who I am when I have my writing group laughing so hard their bellies hurt.


    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I like writing the dark comedy too and love making readers laugh - there's nothing better.

      Delete
  12. This is a great post, and very true! Like other artists, writers do have their work exposed for public viewing, which can result in more insecurity perhaps than people in other impressions. It's true that no one can match up to their own ideal, but focusing on your strengths definitely helps! (now I'm trying to think what mine are...:P)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm sure you have plenty of strengths. My point is that in every job someone is watching there too.

      Delete
  13. I hope you feel better soon.

    It is hard to put ourselves out there, but it's even harder not to. Great IWSG posting!

    Kim Lajevardi
    (This Writer's Growing)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are absolutely right. We can't NOT write. And if we do write, what's the point if it's not read.

      Delete
  14. one thing i do well as a writer is have convos in my head. literally. they are like in my head and i'm just typing them out! truly fun

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My characters are constantly monologuing in my head too.

      Delete
  15. Hi Tonja,
    Great post! I heard someone years ago say that instead of focusing on fixing what we do wrong, we should focus on getting better at what we do well. It makes sense! Sure, we as writers need to know basic grammar and punctuation. We need to know how to string intelligible sentences together and communicate to our readers. BUT, if we have a bit of a problem with comma splicing, we shouldn't focus on that. We should get those stories written, edit them to the best of our ability and seek help from those who really dig commas (I'm not sure if those people exist...). The point is, focus on what you do BEST. Create those quirky characters! Then, work at getting the surrounding elements right.

    Great post!
    Jen (I found you thanks to the IWSG list)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think we need to find constant strength in what we do best and work diligently to turn our weaknesses into strengths. Everyone can place a comma correctly if they try. :)

      Delete
  16. What a great post! I always feel like I'm more insecure than most, but you might have just convinced me otherwise. I hope your head feels better today. ;)

    ReplyDelete
  17. This is a wonderful post!
    I hope your lousy migraine has left you. (((HUGS)))
    You are so right we really do put ourselves out there and when its not good it is all us.
    I think my greatest strengths as a writer are to be able to feel and put into words what someone is trying to say ( I ghostwrite) and being able to put my own emotions into words and onto paper.
    doreenmcgettigan.com
    #IWSG

    ReplyDelete
  18. I hope you're feeling better. Your powers of observation will shine in your writing. I've always thought that I'd make a horrible witness, as I don't pay enough attention to detail at first glance. Take care of yourself Tonja!

    Julie

    ReplyDelete
  19. Torture my poor characters. I'm a suspense junkie :)

    ReplyDelete
  20. I needed to read this. Thank you. Hope your migraine passed and you are feeling much better!

    ReplyDelete