Confidence…QT Blog Chain

Posted: October 23, 2008 in Uncategorized
Tags: ,

Blog Chain Post time!!!  I’ve gotta say, I kinda feel like I’ve gotten off easy the last few chains.  Don’t get me wrong, they were great questions but one was on world building and my MC Eden did it for me and the other was on your writer quirks.  This one though…Kate chose the topic and well, here it is.

How as a writer do you find the balance between having too much or too little confidence in your work?

I know right?! 

I’ve been dreading this, watching the date creep closer, knowing I would have to post.  I guess that’s a lack of confidence? 😉  Okay…here goes nuthin.

……three attempts later.  Yes, three.  First I tried writing about how much confidence (or lack thereof) I had while writing my first book, Water Lilies.  Then I tried linking to past blog entries where I came across as uber confident or really lost.  Then I went old school and pondered the first short stories I wrote in 6th grade and up.  But the answers all felt fake.  I have spent more time attempting to write this blog than I have watching television in the last four months.  No, seriously.  I think I finally figured it out. 

Here’s my problem.  Whether I have too much or too little confidence isn’t something *I* decide.  Whether I have too much or too little confidence in my work is something *you* (the reader) conclude for yourself.  Think about it.  Have you ever wrote an amazing paragraph or chapter, one that you just NAILED.  Remember that feeling?  Being SO tired because you should have been in bed  and the coffee wore off hours ago but the words, they were THERE, man.  And you caught them.  Perfectly.  Remember the way your cheeks ached from the permagrin as you reread.  Were you too confident? 

Now go back to another moment.  One that’s not so shiny.  Maybe a night where you only got a few hundred words and were pretty sure they were getting tossed in the morning because they didn’t flow and were so off from what was needed to get the scene right that you felt the tears threatening.  You knew how bad it was.  Were you not confident enough, or did that feeling force you to write stronger and try harder?

Extremes are not a bad thing.   I know there were parts of my novel where I doubted that I was the one who could or even SHOULD write the story.  Jess can attest to quite a few panicked emails threatening to give up on Reapers.  She can also attest to moments where I sent her snippets with pride.   I needed the rollercoaster.  I needed the good and the bad to finish that book.  Quite honestly, I’m pretty damn proud of the finished product.  I know it’s my best work.  Am I too confident?  Maybe.   Hell, it’s possible (though I doubt it) that it’s even better than I think and I’m not confident enough.  But that’s not for me to decide.   You’ll have to let me know how you feel after you’ve read my work. 

Extremes are needed.  I need a lack of confidence for my edits to be productive.  If I love every bit of my story, nothing is going to change for the better.  I need an abundance of confidence to write my query; to be able to convince agents that my book will be the best they’ve ever read.  They will decide whether I’m overconfident and tell me so with a rejection. 

I don’t think there is a perfect midpoint or a right and wrong way to feel about your story.  And even if there is, it’s not for you to decide.

(Terri came before me and Heather is up next!  Check out her post here

  1. elknutswife says:

    Ooo, you are so right! Over confidence can lead to cockiness, arrogance….a lack of openness to edits and critiques. But you need that uber confidence to know you’ve done something awesome and convince agents of that as you send those queries out again and again and again. Very very insightful post. Excellent!!

  2. Nope, not too confident. It *IS* your best work.

  3. libbyreed says:

    And another look at confidence from a completely different angle. Excellent post! I think you have totally nailed as to the lack of confidence (to a certain extent) needed for editing, and the over confidence needed for querying.

  4. hldyer says:

    Now I have “I Go to Extremes” stuck in my head, so thanks for that. *snort*
    Awesome post!

  5. fandoria says:

    Excellent post! I think the confidence roller coaster is the balance we need.

  6. Interesting post? Could you clarify what you meant in this line, “Whether I have too much or too little confidence in my work is something *you* (the reader) conclude for yourself.” Do you mean the readers decide if your confidence in your work is justified?

  7. katekquinn says:

    Love when you talked about the, “oh, I nailed it” feeling – love that just as much as I hate the “this sucks, I suck” feeling. You’re totally right though – it is a balance, and maybe to be a successful writer you really do need to experience both of those feelings.

  8. elanajohnson says:

    Excellent post – I especially liked the permagrin part. I love writing when I feel like I can’t stop smiling. The lows are almost as high as the highs, and I liked that you said, “not so shiny.” Because all it really needs is a little bit of polish. It’s not BAD. 🙂 It just needs a tweak.

  9. marylindsey says:

    “Permagrin.” I love it. Your posts are always a blast to read. Well done.

  10. queenobscure says:

    Hm, I’m going to have to think some about this one. I have trouble surrendering my confidence levels (or at least my accuracy levels) to my readers. Not because you’re not totally right about how readers are the ultimate deciders on whether your confidence is justified or not, but…well, sometimes I write something that feels good to me, but someone else says nope, it needs a lot of work. Then I have to work again to capture what I’m trying to capture, and the second try, I might get it right (as it were). But the initial confidence I had in what I wrote is what makes me dedicated to fixing that particular flaw until it’s just as good as it felt to me the first time.
    And what happens when half my readers say something is good and half say it’s bad? Do I feel middling confident? (Like I said, this one got me thinking.)

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