life, writing

Chasing Confidence

chariot dwm
One of the statues from the Ringling Art Museum. See Monday’s blog.

I’ve always seen myself as a winner, even as a kid. If I didn’t, I just might have gone down the drain a couple of times. I’ve got something inside of me, peasant-like and stubborn, and I’m in it ’til the end of the race. ~ Truman Capote

Do any of you writers out there ever lose confidence in your work? It happens to me more often than not. One person might not have liked a word I chose, another person doesn’t like a sentence, another my style or my voice. Hmm, will my work appeal to anyone? I mean, some day I’d at least like to be able to support myself with food and shelter from my writing. So, what can I do to fix it to appeal to people?

Those words were in italics because they are the thoughts that run in my head. Mostly writers have made the above comments about my work, and perhaps, a relative or two. Then I think … if I’m happy with a word I chose, or a sentence, or my style or my voice, why should it bother me what someone else thinks, and why would I change it if it feels right to me?

Yes, my thoughts ramble in run-on sentences.

But, if I suck at story writing, than maybe I need to give it up? Does my work appeal to anyone enough to get them to pay a few bucks to read it?

Some people think they are writers because they have a story to tell. I’ve read a few of these and discovered that they didn’t show me their stories. They just wanted to write it down for people to read and thought it would make money. Their stories were not created into visuals for the readers minds.

I work and work and work (and a dozen more “works) to find words that create visuals, but also for the emotions of my characters to become the readers emotions. The novel I’m working on (for what seems like forever) is more character and emotion driven than plot driven.

I always seem to be chasing confidence. Every time I think I’ve caught up to it, the dang thing slips right through my fingers!

chase dwm

Now, having shared my most vulnerable thoughts with the world on the web, I have some questions for any writers who may have stumbled across my blog. Should I find me some beta readers who are interested in my genre (contemporary women’s fiction, or I like to call this WIP, family dysfunction fiction) and have them tell me where I can make changes that might be more appealing to readers? No, wait, maybe I’m too sensitive to hear their comments. No, I have be able to weather the storm of a bad review or two when it’s published, so I must be able to handle helpful tips.

Ooops, sorry, I morphed into thinking again. So, what are your thoughts about me finding beta readers, and how would you suggest I go about finding them? Should I put out a call for beta readers on my blog? Maybe on goodreads? Do I need to make sure my beta readers enjoy and have read a lot of women’s fiction so they are familiar with what works and what doesn’t?

If you stuck out reading this to the end, I thank you for braving it out through the warped cloisters of my brain.

corridors wm
Art School at Ringling Museum.

It’s so important to believe in yourself. Believe that you can do it, under any circumstances … That belief just keeps you searching for the answers, and then pretty soon you get it. ~ Wally “Famous” Amos

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28 thoughts on “Chasing Confidence”

    1. I do belong to a local writer’s critique group where we meet twice a month. I think some of the more harsher critiques were starting to get to me. I go through this on occasion. Thank you for providing that info and the link. I’ll definitely check out the site. Sounds like a great place to get feedback. Thanks so much for your input and offer.

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  1. Your thoughts are very similar to mine—confident one day, wracked with self-doubt the next. I found four excellent beta readers among my regular blog followers. I posted that I was looking for some, and they volunteered. A mix of readers with different interests can give you different insights into what’s working and what isn’t. A non-sci-fi reader, for example, might be unfamiliar with some aspects of the story that a regular sci-fi reader understands. But if the non-sci-fi reader points out areas where he’s confused, it could also mean the story needs some clarification. And someone who doesn’t read the genre should still recognize areas that are “too much tell,” or find plot inconsistencies.

    Getting the comments back is tough, even when they’re presented tactfully and respectfully. But it is so important for us to get that feedback before diving into publication.

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    1. JM, I appreciate you sharing your experience. I was wondering if anyone had asked for beta readers on their blog. I sort of have beta readers with my bi-monthly critique group meetings. I guess the last couple of times the comments started to get to me. Your sharing helps me to see that I’m not the only one who goes through it. Thank you.

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      1. It’s tough. I may set one WIP in “the bottom drawer” based on the last round of reviews. I’ll see what the last two readers say before I make a final decision. It usually takes me at least a month before I can tackle the manuscript again once the comments come back. I think that’s good, though, because then I don’t rush into changes without thinking about their effect on other parts of the manuscript.

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  2. Lori, I think you’ve described the fuss that goes on in many of our minds. Your writing always seems just fine to me. I don’t think in terms of being a writer, though. My mind fusses have much more to do with whether someone likes me or what I’ve done to offend them NOW. Or how I could write a different story to make someone happy, or try a different style. (Never even ponder words or run-on sentences or changing pronouns or tenses, lol.)

    However, having said all that, it seems like the thoughts in our minds have to eventually be realized as substance-less fuss and (mostly) ignored. That’s what all the great spiritual teachers tell us anyway. Working on that…

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    1. Thanks for your insight on this (lack of) confidence thing of mine, Kathy. What you’re saying make sense to me. Always appreciate you comments.

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  3. I had a few beta readers for my first novel, HIGH. The beta readers I picked were people I met at a Writers Workshop. A couple of them didn’t necessarily read my genre, but I wanted to get their feedback anyway. I wanted to get a good mix of people in order to get helpful feedback. I was pleased with all of them in the end. All I can tell you is pick your beta readers carefully. Pick people you trust and whose writing you admire.

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    1. Hey Anneli. I’ve been in a writer’s critique group for 5 years. The last few meetings are what has my confidence waning, so I thought maybe trying some fresh eyes on my work might help.

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      1. Oh, dear! That’s not how it should work. Maybe you need to make up a new group. I’ve gone through that a couple of times. Things change and groups shift and shuffle and finally you hit it right.

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        1. Our group has shifted and changed quite a few times over these five years. I suspect that will continue to happen. I’m usually very happy there, and I do need to hear the hard stuff, but I guess I’m letting it get to me more recently. It’ll pass. Thanks for your input, Anneli.

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  4. I’ve had half a dozen beta readers and it was helpful. All of them volunteered for the job. They saw things I couldn’t see because I was too close to my writing. You have to be open to hear what they have to say . . . the good, the bad, and the ugly!

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    1. Thanks for sharing your experience with beta readers, Robin. I’ve belonged to a writer’s critique group for over 5 years now, and I’ve sure have heard the good, the bad, and the ugly. Lately it seems all I’m hearing is the bad and the ugly, or maybe that’s all I’ve been focusing on. Has been getting to me a bit, I guess. How did you find beta readers to volunteer?

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      1. Well, let’s see. Three are fellow bloggers who offered, one is a neighbor, and two were friends of my daughter. My daughter’s friends are writers and she “talked-up” my book so much they asked to read it. Oh, and one was a literary scout who is a friend of one of my daughter’s friends who read it. I blogged about her feedback . . . focusing on the good stuff, of course.

        I suppose I should also count my family and best friend as beta readers too.

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        1. That’s great to have so many offering. My writer’s critique group are like beta readers too, but I’ve been thinking of finding some new people who aren’t familiar with my writing. Thanks for sharing about your beta readers.

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  5. Readers are subjective, what one likes another won’t. Just like publishers and editors. You’ll have one gaga over you and another rip you to shreds.

    Of course you’ll have days you chase confidence. And hopefully, as Capote did, have days where you think your every thought and word is more brilliant than anything. He’s one of my idols so I’ve read way too much of what he’s said and thought about writing haha But if you didn’t have times when you thought you were brilliant you wouldn’t write anything down! 🙂 But that also doesn’t mean you can’t find beta readers whether on your blog or somewhere else, if you think that will help you creatively and help build confidence. Will it be a good investment of your time?

    If you’re focusing on craft and working hard, you’ll know what’s good, on days when you feel good. You’ll know which pieces of writing are better, cause you’ll love them and they’ll stand the test of time for you (weeks, months etc) This because you’re becoming a craftsman.

    On another note, if you’re channeling your work and reaching the right people, the ones that ultimately matter for where you are in the arch of your aspiring writing career (it sounds like the publishers for the market it sounds like you know you want to reach), then you’ll get there.

    We know your writing is both enjoyable and good, and sorry to say a word or tweak here or there won’t be a determining factor. I can say this, I’ve read it. 🙂 Don’t be too hard on yourself (easy to say coming from one who constantly woops his own ass!) but continue to aspire as you do. You’re always a good role model!

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    1. Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts, Pete. I do value it. I needed some authors thoughts. I’ll be seriously considering your very sound advice.

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      1. It’s off my head but obviously something I think about myself so a Note To Self, right? 🙂 For me it’s just really important to focus on the writing over your reader. I’m not at all the first one to say it and I understand the value in it. They’re too fickle! LOVE what you do.

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        1. Yep, we teach what we need to learn, right? I do see what you’re saying about the writing vs. the reader. Thank you for such a nice comment, Pete.

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  6. Lori, you’re post reminded me of one of my favorite scenes from the movie Midnight In Paris. Here are the lines:

    Gil: I would like you to read my novel and get your opinion.
    Ernest Hemingway: I hate it.
    Gil: You haven’t even read it yet.
    Ernest Hemingway: If it’s bad, I’ll hate it. If it’s good, then I’ll be envious and hate it even more. You don’t want the opinion of another writer.

    Have a wonderful day, living, loving, and writing! Namaste, S

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