Wednesday, December 8, 2010

If you don't hear from me no worries, I just have salmonella.

 Hubs and I had a 3rd attempt at fried chicken. The first two went well in the past but this time we didn't go the boneless strip route, and fried up some legs. Well...the first 4 were kind of pink but we were sure that was because of the bone. Sometimes it is colored closer to the bone, right? Well...we munched down those waiting for the last 3 to finish. By the time we got to the last ones, they were all pretty and NOT colored ANYWHERE. So, at this point, as I edit this post on Tuesday night, hubs and I are waiting for the salmonella. From now on, to do away with any doubt whatsoever, we're sticking with boneless.

So, I read all the time about how writers lack confidence in themselves. We are always the hardest on our own work. And, while I am inclined to believe this is true(as I know a little about myself and all) I don't see it as a bad thing. And I don't really think it's a flaw I need to work on.

I think, as a writer, we look at our work and think "we'll that could be a lot better." or "my dialog could use some work." or even "man I really blow." because we need to. We need to acknowledge that we have areas we could always improve so that we can cope when we get critiqued.

If you already believe your writing needs work, your characters aren't very strong, or your plot drags here or there then when someone tells you "hey, don't you think this is a little weak?" you don't fall apart.

Writers need tough skin, can't take it personally, so on and so forth. But the truth is, how do we not take it personally? We spend hours, days, months, and years with our characters. We poor our hearts and souls into our work; blood, sweat, and toil and all that jazz. How can we not take "I'm sorry but it just isn't what we're looking for" personally? 

No one likes a bad critique but the reason we deal, the reason we persevere, and keep on plowing ahead for our dream is our one coping mechanism: Low self-esteem.

Sound weird? wrong? Don't agree?

Okay. But when you already believe throwing a ball in the air will only come back down again, are you surprised when it does? Nope. You knew that.

I'm not saying we all really do suck like we believe. And I'm not saying taking your low self-esteem to an extreme isn't dangerous, you do need to believe you're awesome in general. But how much better does it feel when you think "oh this is just okay" and you get a critique from a partner that can't stop gushing about its awesomeness? SO GOOD, that's how!

Lacking confidence saves writers from falling apart right at the first sign of negativity directed at their work. It keeps their manuscripts out of the flames and away from the shredders most times. Instead of freaking out, doing handstands on the tables and screaming incoherently until someone carts them away in the big, white, padded van, most just curl up with a gallon of ice cream, a big blanket, and a feel good movie to drown their woes in for a while. Then pick themselves back up and try it again.

Being prepared for rejection keeps writers in one piece, whole, and ready to work a little harder, push it a little farther, and keep doing what they love. Instead of running away and joining a circus. Wait. That sounds like fun.

Anyway, believing in yourself is different than believing in your writing. Believing you CAN do it and being prepared to accept your MS needs more work are the two most important tools a writer can have. And when an agent/editor/ publisher picks up your MS and is pleased with what they hold and its saleability, I doubt you will believe it's real, really happening this time, because of all the times you had to try again during the process. And, to me, that surreal feeling, can be so nice. And so worth it.

Humility, lack of confidence, all those negative feelings you have toward your MS keep it and you whole.
But that is just my opinion, after all. And, really, what do I know? I could just be trying to make myself feel better. It worked!

Don't let yourself stay down, if you're in a low place with your writing and that journey you're one with it. Thinking you suck and actually sucking aren't the same. Chances are 95% good that you really don't. Look it up. That is a totally accurate statistic. Yup.

But, really, how many times have you read someone else's work who has been telling you how low they feel and you're blown away? It's the same with you, dude. You are leaps and bounds better than you believe you are. It's a writers curse. And it makes you strong. In a weird, butt-backwards way.

HERE are 12 ways to create suspense.

HERE you'll find a contest to win Across the Universe (which I DESPERATELY NEED TO READ!) from Scribbler to Scribe. 

We went to eat Chinese for the hub's birthday and my fortune was: "Every artist was first an amateur" HA! Right? Love when those pesky cookies are so well placed.

Happy Writery Wednesday!


  1. Great links,
    I hope you *don't* have Salmonella food poisioning I know how dreadful it can be.

    Love the fortune cookie words. :O)

  2. Thanks so much for this post. You're right: writers need to be tough on their own writing, and we need to have tough skin. It makes the difficult process a little more manageable! Now don't get sick!!!

  3. You are so right- we are insecure, but sometimes we need that to ground us in reality and "see the light". Plus it will build up our thick skin to be able to hear negative reviews or whatever from people.

    Hope you aren't sick!

  4. I did the same thing cooking chicken wings plus adding buffalo sauce. I guess I fully cooked them though as neither of us got sick. Glad I'm not the only one who has had this experience.

    Great advice for all walks of life. If you aren't hard on yourself, you won't see how you can improve. :)

  5. This is so true. Another odd thing I've noticed over many years are those in critique who are the hardest on everyone else turn out to be poor writers themselves. I don't know why.
    N. R. Williams, fantasy author

  6. I was ready! I have no delusions I'm great but a good enough self image I can handle some negative.
    Thanks for reminding me why I only buy skinless, boneless chick breasts. Hope you guys don't get sick!

  7. I usually stay away from chicken if I can, boneless or not. I'm not fond of food that was born with a beak. I like beef, all kinds >;)

    Cold As Heaven

  8. So there IS a silver lining to thinking you're writing is crap? Better handling of rejection! Cool - never thought about it that way, but I can certainly see your point. :) And I do hope you and your hubs are feeling ok!! (love that cat pic - lol!)

  9. Believe in the cookie.

    And don't worry about the chicken, you'll be fine.

  10. I had a really hard time reading this because I'm so stressed out over you having Salmonella. Seriously. Although, I'm sure you are FINE. I got it from a VEGGIE salad at CPK once. Yeah, they chopped the salad right on the counter with the raw chicken. Now there's a smart idea. Worst thing ever, but it hit me pretty quick so if you don't have symptoms, you're A-Okay! Great link on creating suspense. Thanks for that!!

  11. Well crap. Here I am reading away hoping to read the part where you're like "You're awesome... don't doubt yourself, you know what you're doing," but instead you say "Hey you know you suck, deal with it" (okay so maybe that was exaggerated... slightly).

    That does not help my certain (I suck) mood. Hmm... maybe a cupcake would solve it!

  12. Love the Chinese fortune cookie! Thanks for the great links. Hoping the salmonella scare has passed. :)

  13. When in doubt, throw that chicken in the microwave for a minute or two!

    We do all suck but the ones who can acknowledge that and work from there are the ones who will succeed!

  14. Every artist was first an amateur is a quote that I have posted above my computer by Ralph Waldo Emerson. I love that quote.

    Hopefully it brings you good fortune and you guys don't get sick.

  15. Oh no, I hope you don't get sick! That's one of the reasons I try to stick with boneless chicken.

    I think you're right about how we usually think our writing is way worse than it really is. I'm always convinced my CPs are going to flame me when I send a chapter to them, but the crits are usually not too bad:)

  16. Fantastic post! In a weird way, I totally agree with you. The nagging critic in the back of my head is a pest most days, but it helps me stay sane. I think it's better to be wary and slightly under-confident about a piece of work than smarmy. Coz if you get shot down - it sucks all the more. And there is always, always, always room to improve, more stuff to learn. Humility, anxiety, and self-doubt suck. It is the writer's curse, but in the end it makes you stronger. I hope... :p

  17. on no!!! feel better! yeah, i'm terribly insecure when it comes to my writing ability. i'm pretty used to rejection so i think i'm becoming immune. i've just recently gotten a few positive comments from critiquers and that blew me away. i definitely take the positives to heart because i know they mean them. it's like on american's nice to hear nice things, but only simon's opinion really matters, right? (did i get off topic? sorry if i did.) but i guess once you know someone who is critiquing your work is going to be honest and (even if that means tearing it apart) help you make your work it's's all the better when they finally say, "yeah, you've got it!" christy

  18. Awesome post! I feel that way all the time... we've got to keep thick skins in this business!

    And don't get sick!

  19. Ah, this is so true! I ALWAYS see the flaws in my writing and have to talk myself down from the ledge. I really do believe I can write in general, but I do worry that what I've just written sucked.

    I'm glad to know other people feel this way, too!

  20. I really enjoyed your post Colene, although I'm glad I'm not eating chicken tonight! I think we'd be unusual if we thought our work was super duper great, but no one can blame us if we did. The amount of hours we put in is staggering but it still doesn't mean it's up there!

  21. This was a great post. I think we all go through those moments of feeling that we suck! I know I do at least. I love that picture!

  22. Great post! And honestly, if someone told you they were a fabulous writer, the best thing since Reeses peanut butter cups, would you believe them?

  23. oh I heart this post. My post yesterday was my version of i suck , now i just have to pull myself up and continue. Its that simple!
    You Rock!

  24. oh and don't worry about the salmonella I love chicken (i think its healthier than beef) and by extension have a deal with salmonella. They know not to harm my bloggy friends

  25. So I was getting into bed last night and decided to check google reader on my phone one last time to see what new blog posts had gone up. I saw you wrote yours, so I had to read. Then I got pissed. I had just emailed someone (Patty) saying that I was going to post about this same issue today. It was just initial frustration though. Sorry for being pissed at you. Haha.

    Anyway, I have a slightly different view of things and posted about it a minute ago. I mentioned you and your post. I kinda quoted what you said to make my point that the opposite is true -- that being negative is negative. Hope you don't mind or take offense or anything -- although, I don't take you as the kind of person to get easily offended. I just made my post into a kinda debate, highlighting your ideas to go on and give mine.

    And like I said in my post, I get what you're saying. Being down does help with the rejection and getting thick skin. I just don't think that it's a positive thing.

  26. oh boy - hope you didn't get sick!

    i've had more rejection then i care to count - but lots and lots of great feedback, too. and it's the positive stuff i try to focus on because that's what motivates me.

  27. I hope you don't have your face buried in a bucket.

    You're totally right about having a thick skin, but the more you put your words out there and the more they get critiqued, I think the thicker your skin becomes.

  28. I don't think I'd have the umph to go on if I ALWAYS thought that way. I go through roller-coaster-y cycles... love it, don't love it as much, love it, hate it, hate it less...

    And I think 'hearing' feedback takes practice. I have had times where I arrogantly thought the reader just didn't get me, or they missed something, but in reality, if they missed it, maybe you didn't write it quite right...

  29. That sounds awful, but if it helps, I think I picked up something a few days ago too, so I feel your pain. Recover and head back to what you do best, and use those rejections as motivators.

  30. Robert M. Pirsig makes a similar point in Zen and the Art of Maintenance how if you assume you're not much good at something, it helps you maintain your gumption--at least, until your assumption no longer holds. ;)

  31. I've noticed a lot of negativity in the blogosphere these days and I wonder how much of it has to do with the holidays and the end of the year. Perhaps there are a lot of writers out there tallying up their rejected queries or looking at that unfinished MS.

    I somewhat agree with you and I somewhat agree with Quinn. Negativity is a downward spiral and a round of practice in low self esteem and insecurity. We must look at ourselves as writers and be prepared to edit and revise just as the pure nature of the thing. But we should go at it with the confidence that we can do it. Everyone needs to chipper up and continue working at our stories and queries. Don't overwork your stories during the edit/revision process so that you lose your voice altogether. If writers were meant to be amazing self-editors then all the editors in the publishing world would be out of business. Just come with the best you can offer. Have an interesting premise and a workable story. Work yourself up to being the confident, eager writers you should be.

    I hope you don't actually get sick from the chicken. Feel better soon if you do.

  32. I hope that this post finds you vomit-free.

    And I actually agree with you on a lot of it. I read Quinn's post about this already today, since you know, I'm always behind, so I'm a bit colored.

    But I do think that in general, we think our writing is good enough, or we wouldn't send it out. I said on his blog that we use the self-deprication as a protection. At least I do.

    And then I also use it as a motivator, to constantly remind myself that I can be better.

  33. Hi Colene,

    Thanks for stopping by my blog today; it's nice to "meet" you. =)

    1. Hope you didn't get sick
    2. Love the pic
    3. Thanks for the links!

  34. If 95% of us don't suck, 5% do. Which means out of 35 commenters, one and 3/4 of us sucks. What if it's me? :runaway emoticon:

  35. Love your post title today!]

    So, I thought you take on low self-esteem (and its potential benefits) was interesting. I'm a fairly confident writer - and I love that, I feel like it's part of why I'm so jazzed and energized by my work. But, I do realize that my writing can always be better and that I still have much to learn, so I take critiques pretty well.

    Except for that one time that I cried. But don't we all have that one time when we cried? No? :p

  36. Sandra, that was awesome! Thank you!

    Chris! Bahahaha! Lovely. Totally made up statistic. I couldn't possibly call anyone out. Everyone I have met so far on this writery-bloggy community have been so great and wonderful. I can't imagine anyone of them actually sucking. So No fear! Don't run!

    Guinevere, It's wonderful that you are so positive! I love that! Being positive really does make a world of difference! Crying is often more of a refresher than anything else so even that is a good thing!

    Guys, NO salmonella! Thank you all for your well-wishes! It worked!

    And I'm so pleased with everyone's understanding of this post. It isn't meant to justify writers being down on themselves. It's more of a "there's light even in the dark" kind of way. And you can't let yourself stay down. We all get there, its normal, but don't stay there.
    I know I didn't write my thoughts out well but I am really pleased that no one brought out the pitchforks! But just for the record, NO ONE SUCKS! Yeay!

    Thanks everyone!!!

  37. Yeah, I can be a little harsh in my critiques - but luckily my writing friends know that about me and that I'm just doing it to point out every little tiny thing and they can choose whether they want to change it or if it was fine all along.

    The one I got from an anonymous critiquer that said "Contemporary fiction is so boring, I fell asleep by the second page." was hurtful, though. Tell me what I can do to be better, not that you hate my genre. Boo to anonymous.

    But yay to you. Thanks for the reminder to think the glass is at least a third full. :)

  38. I'm glad to hear you didn't get salmonella! And I totally understand and agree with what you are saying. If we don't ever doubt ourselves, we won't strive to improve. Great post!

  39. David! I'm so sorry you're under the weather! I Hope you feel better soon!! (and I'm sorry for not replying sooner. I "noreplied" emailed you then realized I needed a *facepalm*

    Susan! Thank you! Yes. Perfect!

  40. This is really true; I think it's a lot easier to take a burning crit when you know something could use work.

    Although scathing critiques are usually done out of some twisted sense of if-I-insult-your-writing-that-makes-me-cool, which is totally uncool.

  41. Also, I just realized that I'd been latently thinking, "Why hasn't Colene posted in a while?", and then I saw on my Google Reader feed that you'd actually posted a WHOLE BUNCH.

    I am a bad follower. *hangs head in shame*

  42. Hugs girl, hope you're managing to stay away from the nasty S! It's so true, I'm always a bit wary about how good my writing is - I know I've so much to learn. And you're right, it is easier to handle rejection if you're not thinking it's fantastic.


  43. Yup, self doubt is pretty much part of the territory. And if you can't pick yourself up, its best to have an entourage there to help! Great post!- Oh and as for the chicken, you can make it crispier by using the extra crispy breakcrumbs and using sparkling water in the batter! Hope there's no salmonella!

  44. Fear not, my cousin got drunk and ate raw chicken wings at a NYE party a few years ago. She thought she was being super clever by going for the tray underneath the other one, where people wouldn't have spilled drinks, etc. After 48 hours of waiting to die, she concluded she would be fine. (So, tip: chase your chicken with a few drinks, the alcohol will probably kill the backteria.)

    On a more serious note, great post, full of lots of food for thought. Thank you!

  45. Thanks Amie! Good to know. Will definitely remember that!!

  46. Thanks for the links! I've read through it, and it's helped me greatly in creating suspense for my stories.

    I'm sorry that you're sick, I hope you don't have salmonella. :(


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