Wednesday, May 7, 2014

IWSG - May 2014

Incredibly, it's the first Wednesday in May - and time for Insecure Writer's Support Group hosted by Alex J. Cavanaugh.

I have some exciting news:  I won a writing competition for graduate students in the English department at my university.  I got a certificate, some money, and an engraved keychain to remind me of my awesomeness as a writer.  My daughter went to the award ceremony with me and heard the amazing comments about the first two chapters of my first historical novel.

Last weekend, I read a different chapter of the same novel to a room full of professors and graduate students at a conference for English studies at my university.

I also did some awesome work writing grant proposals this semester.  And I was able to check off my odd-ball bucket list item of reading everything Poe wrote (I read 90% of it and can't read any more, so I'm calling it done).

Now that the semester is over, I've been gripped with insecurity - the hyper-anxious variety that makes me feel physically sick.  What if the judges were just being nice? What if I was the only one who submitted an entry? What if the people in the audience were just being nice after I read my work? What if all of my grant proposals are denied and all that work was for nothing?

The worst worry is this: I don't have class until August. Now I have to clean my house! Ugh.

I know I need to just breathe and be rational and not go to that place. If my writing sucked, they wouldn't have said all of those nice words and give me a pretty copy of it nice enough to frame. The people at my reading would have looked embarrassed for me instead of excited for me. And my grant proposals probably will be denied - most are. I will simply keep applying to different funders until they are approved. That's just how that is.

The problem is the voice of worry in my head is the dominant voice. It's a little bit louder and has a lot more emotion than the calm, rational voice that tries to shut down the voice of insecurity.

If all of those people were just being nice and my writing sucks, then the only thing to do is to keep writing to work on making it better, which is exactly what I need to do if it doesn't suck.  So today and every day until my classes start back in August, I write.


  1. Congratulations!!! Hey, judges are never nice. If they said it was great, accept it.

  2. Congratulations, Tonja. That is terrific news. Just keep going. Try not to pay so much attention to reviews, good or bad and just keep writing.

  3. Congrats on the win! I agree with what Alex said.

  4. Big congrats! I'm sure they don't hand out certificates and keychains for nothing. :) They don't want to mislead you. Funny how praise can be as hard to accept as criticism, but I think that voice of doubt should go to bed for a while.

  5. CONGRATS!! You deserve it and don't let that voice of doubt creep in. :)

  6. Tonja -- This is so totally normal. You need to accept that you feel this way, then kick the feelings to the curb. I'm sure some writers would like to slap me for saying I am insecure, since I have published books and currently have a series going.

    But I quit my teaching job. QUIT. MY. TEACHING. JOB. I hated what Common Core has done to my profession, and my husband encouraged me to switch to full time writing.

    But what if the series is a flop? What if the books don't sell? How come my newest idea is flopping around on the page like a dying fish? What if I never have a good idea again? What if I end up bagging groceries at the supermarket or (worse!) have to go back to teaching and swallow Common Core!?!

    You and me together now -- let's kick those insecurities to the curb and STOMP on them!

  7. Wow, that's big. How can you feel insecure after that? I'm looking forward to reading your novel. I'm not a huge Poe fan [he's often too dark for me], so now I know who I can ask about him if I ever need to know.

  8. Congratulations that is huge. Perfectionism does have a big mouth, and does not like to shutup. Thank you for sharing the insecurity. In face of all that applause it is encouraging to know that the voice of doom is normal. Good Luck with your project and the grants. Happy Writing.
    Juneta at Writer's Gambit

  9. Sounds like you've had a lot of good things happen in your corner lately. Good for you. :)

  10. Congratulations--that's really exciting!
    I've been published (under a pen name) in a couple of anthologies. I had the same worry as you express. In reality, I don't think that you would have won if they were just trying to be nice. We need to be nicer to ourselves!
    I'm visiting from the Insecure Writers list. My blog is at The Cheese Whines.