It’s a common phenomenon for artists to believe they are completely brilliant or completely inept. We walk the line between an inflated ego and crippling self-doubt. This is why feedback can be so important. It’s not about being told you’re the best so much as a chance to ground yourself in reality and knowing you’re at least good enough.
When I finished the rough manuscript of Darkness Falling in 2004, I was on the brilliance side of the spectrum. I knew it was going to need editing, but believed that it would simple and minor. It was a huge accomplishment in my life. I was always viewed as the kind of person who starts thing but doesn’t finish them. When I was able to thunk down the 400 plus sheets of computer paper in front of my naysayers as proof of my skills, it was very vindicating.
One person read the original manuscript from start to finish, a person who I only knew for a very short time. He was a high school kid who belonged to the same martial arts school where I was training for exercise. He gave it a 99.9%, because nothing can be perfect.
In the years that followed, I fell into the despair of self-doubt. I searched out a means to publish my work with a limited income. I doubted myself more than I doubted the work. Growing up I was severely bullied long before being bullied was considered a serious problem for a person’s development. This meant I believed in my work but I didn’t believe in myself.
Coming back around to the story 11 years later, I try to keep myself closer to the middle of the spectrum, but it’s easy to slip towards self-doubt. Negativity is far easier at 36 than it was at 24.
With Darkness Falling: Soldiers and Slaves being my first book, it means I’m completely unknown. People use words like “risk” when they talk about purchasing my book. I’m also self-published, which means there is a group of people who will judge all the more harshly for circumventing the publishing house lottery system.
Despite that, I choose to remain positive. The goal of writing is just as much about fulfilling my dreams and leaving a legacy for my children as it is to actually start earning enough to write full time.
I also know I can’t fly around in the sky thinking I’m the greatest gift to literature. My feet must stay firmly on the road between brilliance and doubt to ensure that I publish a worthy product.
How has over confidence and self-doubt effected your work? Let me know in the comments!
Thank you for reading as always!