I am not good at receiving gifts. First, I don’t like being the center of attention. Second, even if I absolutely love the gift and tell the giver profusely that I love and adore it, I still feel like my gratitude rings false for some reason even though they seem happy with my words. I don’t know when that started…sometime after my teens, I think. It’s something that I struggle with even now. So I suppose that it’s not such a big surprise that I even struggle with acknowledging and accepting my innate gifts. It’s as though my brain is split into two sections (other than left and right)…the “Yea, Donna, you’re so amazing” section and the “What makes you think that you’re a writer or have any kind of talent at all” section. I’ve written before about the Inner Critic and the Inner Wise Self and how they are in an eternal struggle inside my head but I think that this goes even deeper than that. It probably goes back to my childhood. There was some emotional damage done back then but I don’t think that until recently, I’d really even considered it as having affected my ability to accept and make proper use of my gifts. I don’t believe that I’m God’s gift to writing but one side of my brain knows that I do have a gift and that I have worked over the years to develop it. I know that I have written some really good stuff…poetry and prose. It has been praised and I have been encouraged by those with so much talent that I am in awe of them. And yet, I doubt myself and my ability to write. And it is holding me back. Correction, I am holding myself back. I don’t want to be a writer that failed because I was too afraid to fail. Paradoxical, isn’t it? Dammit, if I am going to fail, I want it to be because of something that I did, not something that I didn’t do! And I don’t want to just give up because someone tells me that my writing isn’t good enough. I want them to give me a reason so that I can go back to that piece and figure out why what they said was accurate, or not, and then fix it. I need to succeed or fail through my own actions. So that means that I have to write. And write some more. And not give up…ever.
We all get in our own way more than others ever do. We are afraid of rejection and failure and of the words running dry in our heads. News flash…as writers that write and submit our writing, we are going to be rejected, probably more times than we would have ever thought possible. But, all it takes is one piece of good writing landing on the right person’s desk at the right time to be published. And one rejection or even ten rejections is not failure…it is part of our learning process. Failure is quitting writing because you feel like a failure. Suck it up. Writing is hard. Succeeding as a writer is even harder. We have to be tougher than that. Our skin has to be thicker. We have to be determined. And we have to persevere. And our words will never dry up. There will days when it’s a trickle rather than a flood but if we push through they will begin to flow more freely. And when they are flowing freely, just write. Don’t stop and try to edit and correct it as we go. Get it all out first and then go back to edit it. We also can’t make the mistake of judging our writing by our first drafts because they are like a newly mined diamond that needs to be cleaned up, evaluated and cut. The first draft is not the finished product…no one’s is, not even a bestselling author’s. But we have to get the words on the paper before we can start editing. We are the harshest judge of our own writing so we need unbiased, truthful readers to give us critiques and input. And we mustn’t take them the wrong way. We have to accept them and, as I said before, figure out if they’re accurate or not. That’s why we should always try to get at least two people to read our writing and to find people that would be an audience for our writing. And go from there. Remember, when Stephen King wrote Carrie while teaching school, he actually threw the manuscript into the trash and his wife, Tabitha, got it out and made him submit it. And the legend was born. We have to believe in, acknowledge and accept our gifts and use them!
So, if I’m going to fail, I’m going to fail actively, not passively. However, I am not going to fail!
“Books aren’t written – they’re rewritten. Including your own. It is one of the hardest things to accept, especially after the seventh rewrite hasn’t quite done it.” ~ Michael Crichton