Thursday, November 20, 2014

Self Doubt

What do you do when self-doubt overwhelms you? Please tell me.

I received one of those letters yesterday. So far I only shared the contents with a friend over dinner. A friend going through her own troubles. Who couldn't offer me anything as she is riddled with SD herself.

I spent a week in September putting all the paperwork together for a grant application, excerpts, letters of reference, past successes. Wads of paper. These Grant Givers don't believe in the interwebz. I was fairly confident I'd get it. It wasn't very much, enough to tide me through final novel completion, editing, first readership feedback, etc.

I didn't expect to be demolished IF they turned me down. Note the big IF. I didn't believe that big IF for a second.

But they did. By letter (quaint, right?). Yesterday. Blah. Blah. I know the drill of these letters.

And yesterday and today I lose the faith and tell myself you are one shitty writer living in fecking fantasy land.

I am way too old to be a starving artist living in a garret reusing my teabag 99 times and fighting the dog for bits of kibble once a day.


  1. “Growing old is like being increasingly penalized for a crime you haven’t committed.”
    ~ Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

  2. Yeah. A younger friend is starting to experience rejection on account of her age, and she can't figure out what the problem is. She's 40.
    But you're good and you're unique, so this is just a temporary setback.

  3. As soon as I read this I stopped what I was doing to reply. I DO know what you should do. Years ago when my fellow teacher retirees and I were still young and hopeful and full of energy and ideas we all had to go through OFSTED class observation/inspections here in the UK. We did ok generally but we all had horror stories of that terrible lesson where nothing went right or that good lesson that was misunderstood by the inspector - I won't go into the sometimes hilarious/tragic cases of misunderstanding here now. We all felt seriously misjudged and drained by the process and some fine teachers broke under the strain. My point is this; what we realised years later was that it really was - and I'm afraid still is - a form of ABUSE. A person with the power undermines and damages a person without the power. The sense of damage never goes away but what I hope you realise is you have actually just experienced a mild but nasty form of abuse. Someone with the power has caused you to feel doubt in YOUR OWN talents. What I think you should do? You know the answer - recognise the letter of rejection for what it is - crass and unhelpful - and blow your nose, force a smile and continue, without the expected funding, to be a marvellous writer. xx

  4. The same thing happened to me when I had a children's theater program. We worked very hard to prepare materials for a small grant that we really should have gotten and deserved as we were doing creative work in a small community that meant a lot to the children involved. Not to mention the state video job that we wasted a lot of time doing a presentation and preparing materials for that we were ideal for.
    This happens for a lot of reasons, the video job went to a relative of one of the grantees, but also I get other jobs because of my connections. So favoritism goes both ways.
    I hope the letter you received didn't sound like a personal attack on your writing but just being rejected feels like a judgement. Writing is hard, hard work and you are going to be judged by people who are not capable, or are downright idiots, or have personal connections with someone they give the grant to.
    If it was easy everyone would write that novel they imagine they have in them. Like me! So I hope you will pick yourself up and carry on. Writing for a living seems to be just about impossible so I have more and more respect for those people who fill the shelves at my library, books store and online sources. Some of it is crappy, some is brilliant but I feel fortunate to have so many books to choose from that represent years of struggle from people who really really want to write.
    Hang in there and let us all be the ones who get to read your stories, please!

  5. Rejections usually say more about the person doing the rejection than about the work they're judging. This person had some private agenda that simply wasn't interested in what you were offering. I'm sure it says nothing at all about the quality of your work. Take no notice and try your luck somewhere else. Sooner or later you'll strike lucky.

  6. Let me ask you a good do you think your writing would be if you lived a wonderful life of ease, flow, no problems, obstacles or pain? Life is what informs a good writer, and pain informs most of the greats. I would say that your most effective and touching blog posts are the ones in which you portray pain yours and others IMHO. This is a wonderful event if looked at in that way, they gave you a gift,thank them for it, use it and keep on plugging the only people who fail are the ones who stop trying...

  7. P.S.One more thing. Self doubt means you are living an examined and thoughtful life, you really wouldn't want to be one of those people who walks through life and never doubts themselves for a minute now would you? I know people like that, what's the word that comes to mind on them, ummm, ahhh, oh yes...obnoxious :D ahahah hehehe LOL

  8. PPS I think self doubt only overwhelms me when I try to avoid it. I try to take it in, absorb it, say "I really do suck", live within the doubt and I find when I do this there is usually a small voice that starts up saying uh uh not true, look it in the face straight at it and it usually loses its illusion, and even if it was true I'm only going to keep at it until I get better...also never let what others say and do shape you don't become "other created" in that you give away your power and you are a powerful being!

  9. What do they know of talent?
    Little tin gods in their ivory towers reveling in the power of arrogance. They sit in an office all day and go home to their 2.4 children and bored wife, who's probably having an affair with the grocer down the road, watch football or pornography on the TV, before drinking a beer and suffering a heart attack from no exercise and too much fast-food.
    What do they know of talent?

  10. Rejection hurts. Struggling to work with little recompense for your efforts saps your energy. Sometimes we deal well with the hurt and the drain that constant worry about money engenders, and sometimes we're more vulnerable. It sounds as if this hit you at a particularly vulnerable moment. However, you wouldn't have progressed as far in the writing world as you have if you didn't also have the ability to either shrug it off or get angry and decide to prove the rejection had been a terrible idea. I'm not minimizing the hurt. I remember once early in my writing life receiving my manuscript back in my SASE with "What IS this?" scrawled across the top, the words etched deeply into my 50% cotton pages as if the work had been so bad that it angered the editor. However, I also read an interview with an editor who worked for a non-fiction house that produced books about domestic animals, among other books. She preferred cats over dogs, so if a manuscript about dogs landed on her desk rather than on the desk of one of the other editors, she automatically rejected it. She didn't want to devote her time to editing a manuscript about an animal she didn't particularly like. It can be that random.

  11. I suppose these little gods, never tell you who actually was awarded the Grant... a first cousin, or a sister of the wife's, perhaps?

    Now you know why I insist that I am a 'blogger' and not a writer. I am content with dabbling with words.

    Take care, my friend!

  12. I don't like rejection in any form - academic, work-related, love. It just sucks.

  13. You write wonderful
    and are so talented.
    Rejection hurts
    in all forms.
    At time seems a daughter
    has decided to pull away.
    Nothing I can do
    so onward I go...

  14. Thanks you guys, your words spur me onwards. I will not stop applying or submitting until the my hands seize up.


  15. I hate it! I hate that I've put myself in a position to where I'll be judged and found wanting. Sometimes I wait a long time before I apply again - and this isn't the usual rejections of poems and stories - I do understand those. It is a total crap shoot. But the big grants given by the big guys (Canada Council, Provincial Government grant giving agencies) - those burn. Get back up on the horse. Write like there's no tomorrow and when you are ready apply again. The people on those boards aren't bad people - they just have a punk, unpaid job - too many good applicants - too little dough. Much love to you on this cold Labrador day.

  16. It would be strange indeed if our faith did not get knocked from rejection when it happens, even just reading your caption about the spam idiots, makes me know you are a feisty woman, from what I have seen you have had many triumphs too, so when you are ready, and the day is right your faith will come back, along with your natural 'give me hell' ways, and off you will go again. Seems to me like many people have faith in you, that will keep you going while your own faith takes a little holiday. Sending you best wishes and admiration. CCL xxx


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