Are there writers that exude confidence? Do Anne Tyler and John Grisham, Stephen King and J.K. Rowling tap away at the keyboard thinking: “Yea, I have a fantastic gift; I’ll pen my thoughts and spring them on the world knowing the work is destined to be a best seller, because I am simply so gosh-darned good?" Really. Is there any author out there that thinks like this or do they all molder while lying prostrate on the concrete slab of clammy self-doubt?
Not that I presume to put myself in such venerated company, but I ask the question in hope that an answer or two will assist in bagging the current lack of assurance joy-riding through my circulatory system. Please indulge me while I try to explain, and golly-gee, any comments will be welcomed. Even if it’s not your thing. Commenting, I mean.
Over the weekend, I updated the Middle Passages’ side bar with a blog award, (more about that later.) In doing so, I perused blog entries from a year ago. It is worth mentioning that back then I was six weeks past a job elimination that left me spinning--as if I had just twirled a swing as high as I could before lifting my feet from the ground and pulling the chains out hard. Completing daily posts on Middle Passages helped to ease the vertigo.
As I looked back though, the stark reminder of the many months I dedicated to Middle Passages, in spite of a dearth of feedback, raised its sober little head. Each morning, I’d fire up my computer, anxious to see how my pithy, conversational style had lit up the world, to discover a fat goose-egg next to the word “comments” at the bottom of the most recent post.
I’m a pretty patient soul, and, least you wonder, not a total loser. My family emailed me behind the scenes, I got a few phone calls and a rare comment from a friend, but that said, I blogged in a vacuum for six months, five and sometimes six days a week—with no reaction even though I read other blogs and commented. It wasn’t until I joined two writers groups on LinkedIn that strangers began to communicate, and I wonder now whether I could have kept up the flow, if people hadn't begun to acknowledge what they read.
This though, points to the crisis of faith pertaining to my writing skills, and I seek YOUR advice. Yes, that means you. One of the awards I cut and pasted into my side bar yesterday is called the “Prolific Blogger” award which came from Helen at “Straight from Hel,” for which I am grateful and honored. Thank you, Helen! Helen is a daily blogger with amazing writing tips and insight about the publishing world. If you haven't visited her please do. Given how regular she is at posting, I hold her dedication in high esteem.
Although not as diligent as Helen, I too am a prolific blogger. At the moment though, that word "prolific" tap dances with my doubt.
For the most part, thirteen-plus months later, you’ll still find me blogging four-five days a week. But family and friends who used to read me religiously now tell me that they haven’t for a while--that they’ve fallen behind and I get it. Five days a week is a lot. Yet, if my writing compelled them, wouldn’t they find a way? Not every day mind you, but perhaps a few?
My goal, in posting so often, is to improve my writing, but I’d be a liar if I didn’t admit that I crave an audience. Do I write too much? Or not well enough? Or, if I’m getting better, and I think I am, why doesn't it lead to more readers? Oh, and before you ask, I’d like to put one of those stat-counters on my blog, but I’m afraid I’ll insert the code in the wrong place and blow up Middle Passages, so have delayed several months on that puppy.
Adding to my uneasiness, several of the thoughtful readers that I developed by the year end, writers whose comments I value and treasure, are taking breaks, and focusing their writing time elsewhere now. I get that too. There is a balance to maintain relating to honing the craft or finishing works in process, and producing blog posts for the masses. I’m trying to write outside of Middle Passages too. But no one, so far, reads my other stuff. And unlike others who are a tad more, um, state-of-the-art in their practices, I am my own enemy, consciously deciding that for now, Twitter is not for me, and I’m not shouting my blog topics to my 23 friends on Facebook.
It feels right to grow organically, in a controlled process enhanced by the fertilizer of practice; taking time to focus on the craft of writing. Yet in a proverbial Catch 22, the resulting lack of readership communicates to me that I’m not writing anything worth reading. So that’s where I sat today, my ego shriveling like the Wicked Witch of the West after she gets sprayed with water, twitching and twisting in my chair this morning wondering whether I should even bother to write a blog post.
So here I am, evidence once again that synchronicity exists, and that you can never underestimate the value of a blog award--because while moping about what a lousy writer I must be, kicking the table leg in procrastination earlier today, I clicked to “Where Sky Meets Ground and found this waiting for me:
I'll pass on the award at a later date. For now, I'll say this: JP could not have had better timing. I read his post, in which he included me in a group whom, in his words, write “world class material” and sighed; in honor, in pleasure and with a deep whoosh of relief. Thank you JP for finding a way to smooth out some of the porcupine spurs of self-doubt stabbing me.
Do you need readers to feel like a writer, and how do you keep your spirits up when your self-confidence plummets? Comments please...Everyone? :)