On backing yourself

It is the nature of the artist to mind excessively what is said about him. Literature is strewn with the wreckage of men who have minded beyond reason the opinions of others – Virginia Woolf

In my long journey towards “being” a writer, I have given up and put works aside too any times.  Ok, so I have shared a post or two about self sabotage and my inherited alcoholic tendencies which give some insight into why, but in exploring other blogs and researching and even talking to published authors, even famous ones, I have come to the conclusion that we writers are mostly a nervy insecure bunch. (yep, like some crazy fan-girl, I am the woman at the writer’s conferences I make a point of talking to the authors I read and having them sign my books and hopefully remember me … any publicity is good publicity right?).

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    So as the great Ms Woolf said, it is in the nature of the artist to mind excessively about what is said about him … well in this case “her”… Do I mind?  Well, yes very much.  As an emerging writer, working on my first full-length novel, my published works are so far limited to:

  • A lot of government documents (which are fabulous but I cannot claim)
  • some short stories (working on some more right now, and realising that I love writing short stories!
  • some poetry in Dolly Mag when I was young (oh the anguish …)
  • a friend’s wedding vows (getting your words printed on a 150 guest mementos counts doesn’t it?
  • many irate letters to the editor on all manner of topics – asylum seekers, gay marriage rights, other stuff that I (and you should) care about
  • the odd crikey http://www.crikey.com.au/ post (got in trouble for these as I worked for the Premier’s department at the time in Queensland and I did not quite make myself anonymous enough :-))
  • a stack of tweets (much to my daughter’s shame, I tend to do a happy dance around the house when I get re-tweeted or RT’d for those of cool enough to be tweeters/twits? (sigh, I am so last season)
  • A previous blog that I had for 4+ years on the Journalspace site, until one day the whole thing crashed, disconnecting so many people who had shared each other’s lives from the sanctity of their laptops late at night – I only ever managed to reconnect with two people from JS – Mark & Ally (HI!), as it was pretty much before the days of Facebook
  • This awesome new blog, which apart from giving me a chance to practice writing, will hopefully contain enough wit, colour and insight to entice a publisher who likes by manuscript but is not quite ready to take the plunge – would it be tacky to link the publishing houses I am targeting here – maybe?)

In order to make some money to keep me in wi-fi and the kids from starving, I am also doing technical and corporate freelance writing, so jump onto the about me section on this blog if you need anything in that vein…

Back to the point of this post, backing yourself as a writer.  Just by listing the things I have written has given me a spurt of confidence I didn’t have.  I am a writer, and mostly a pretty good one.  I can entertain and convince with my words, and I think I have an interesting style.  A good friend posted this on my wall today:

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It could not have been more timely … no such things as coincidences?  My journey towards “being” a writer has been littered with corpses – mostly of killed off characters – but also my dreams, killed off by my self sabotaging Ms Ego, who really really minds beyond reason the opinions of others.  She minds so much, that kept me safe by keeping me gainfully employed in a corporate career that was stifling me.  From an early age, when I was supposed to be doing homework or studying and more recently working on a dry legal document, my mind would wander into its library – a big old sandstone building covered in ivy surrounded by fog, it inside resplendent with tall oak shelves, full of fabulous old tomes,  and dark twisty passages leading to more tall oak shelves, full of fabulous old tomes. I even used to have conversations with the resident head librarian – a very tiny old lady (called of course Virginia) with a white bun, fierce eyes, half-glasses, and a lavender cardigan made of llama wool – about where to find literary treasures on my latest topic of interest.  From the Plantagenet’s to the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, I have crafted stories in my head about the people of these times and places.  In the library in my mind, some have even been published.  In the library in my mind, I always backed myself and told my stories about whatever took my fancy, without the real world fear monsters creeping in to tell me they were not any good.

In the library in my mind, I have a whole shelf of amazing stories, and Virginia is directing other daydreamers to seek them out.  In the library in my mind, I backed myself.  Now all I have to do is make those stories come out …

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