Wednesday, June 3, 2020

IWSG: Shhh! It's a Secret


Welcome to the first Wednesday of the month. You know what that means! It's time to let our insecurities hang out. Yep, it's the Insecure Writer's Support Group blog hop. If you're a writer at any stage of career, I highly recommend this blog hop as a way to connect with other writers for support, sympathy, ideas, and networking.

If you're a reader, it's a great way to peek behind the curtain of a writing life.

June 3 question - Writers have secrets! What are one or two of yours, something readers would never know from your work? 

The awesome co-hosts for the June 3 posting of the IWSG are Pat Garcia, J.Q. Rose, and Natalie Aguirre! Be sure to check out their posts after you read mine. 
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I can tell you, right? This is a safe space? 

Okay. Here's goes: 

The truth is: I don't know what I'm doing. 

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I really thought I would by now. 

I'm almost 50 years old. I've read a lot of books about writing and biographies of writers. 

I've been working as a (part time) professional writer for five years, and I've been writing in one way or another since I could hold a pen. 

I've had three novels, two novellas, and a dozen or so short stories accepted for publication. 

One year, I made enough money on my writing that it impacted my taxes. 

That's a measure of success I dreamed about all my life. 

But still, every time I sit down to the page, every time I consider a marketing strategy, every time I take part in an event, there's this little moment of panic when I realize that I'm making this up, that there isn't a clear and correct path to follow because there are thousands of ways to do this and all of them are good and bad. 

Choosing a path, within a career or even within a story used to give me serious analysis paralysis. I wanted to choose the *right* way. So I would research, consider, and dither for years on end. It's why I was forty-two before I committed to regular, disciplined writing and actually finished something substantial. 

It took me that long to realize that the only way forward is to choose a path and commit to it. You can backtrack if turns out to be a dead end (I certainly have!), and try another fork in the road (that too!), but if you don't try something, you'll just stand there all your life and never get any nearer to your goals. 

So, yeah, five years into making this a career, I still don't know what I'm doing, but that doesn't scare me anymore. In fact, it's kind of exciting, realizing how much there is still to learn, how much further I can grow. 

That's my secret cap, I'm always learning. 

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17 comments:

  1. It's good to be always learning. And some careers are easier to know what you are doing than others. I knew much more exactly what I was doing as an attorney and why I was doing it than in my own writing or my job as a contract writer.

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    1. So true! I'm glad *some* parts of my life have clear roadmaps and measures of success!

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  2. Well, now I don't feel so bad about not knowing what I'm doing. I guess it's the norm.

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    1. I'm slowing gleaning that it really is, even for artists pretty far up the food chain.

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  3. I think we all feel that way. Every day I have a moment as a writer of not feeling like I know what I'm doing. <3

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    1. Yes. The shift for me is that it doesn't scare me anymore. I get excited thinking "I don't know what I'm doing" instead of scared. It means I'm trying something new.

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  4. Life time learning keeps you young!!
    JQ Rose

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  5. Good on you for making a commitment! I didn't start writing seriously until I retired -- maybe it's too easy to doubt. But making a commitment takes courage -- and that sense of humor for the dark days. Persevere. You got this.

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    1. I'm hoping that making a start now will give me a foundation to build on by retirement. Barring sudden success that lets me retire early, I've got 11 more years in the classroom yet.

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    2. Hello again, Samantha. Classrooms can eat up a lot of creative time and energy, but your heart and commitment can keep you writing!

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  6. I don't know that there's any one right way to do any of this writing stuff, but I know what you mean about thinking one has no idea what they're doing. I've just learned over the years, jump in and act like I do and usually no one is the wiser. You might even start a new right way. :)

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    1. Sometimes I wish there was "one right way"--cuz I could just learn that instead of constantly experimenting. But then again, there's a spark in experimenting, too.

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  7. You must know a little something to have all that done. Congrats on hitting submit and on getting stuff done! Maybe ignorance is bliss?

    Anne from annehiga.com

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    1. Well, I do love learning, so ignorance gives me opportunities for bliss :-)

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