Since my return from the great New Hampshire wilderness and experiencing the not-so-wild winds of Irene, I’ve been at a loss of what to write. This listlessness has to do, in part, with getting brutal feedback from two beta readers that made me question the entire novel, but also brought about this huge slump in confidence.

And now for every self-rebuke, I’ve gotten sloppier with proofreading and copyediting even with nonsense Facebook updates, emails and instant messages. What ultimately happened was I entered this cycle of self-doubt and questioned why I bother to write.

What did I do that I shouldn’t have done? First, a confession: I have a huge crush on a writer (yes, he knows it). My mistake was that I read his articles and it became yet another round of a torturous “I’ll never be as brilliant, funny, interesting or have the talent to write a beautiful sentence” upbraiding.

After a few days kicking myself in the ass for this paroxysm of insecurity, I finally realized I wasted a lot of time over nothing. I may not have the flair of massaging words into luscious sentences, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for improvement. I just have to work much harder at it.

So I part with these somewhat sage words of advice for those who have literary aspirations: If you have a crush on a writer and find yourself intimidated by his talent and start comparing—STOP, DON’T DO THIS. And remember what the great and wise Stuart Smalley, said, “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggone it, people like me.”

Now get back to that writing and don’t forget to proofread.


  • I think a lot of this relates to how our personalities are shaped as youngsters. I live with constant self-doubt, rather than episodic, which seems unrelated to whether I am in a mood to write or feel bereft of imagination or ambition. Comparisons to others is a far more complicated, and ugly, thing entirely, no doubt existing before Aesop right back to Cain and Abel.

    • For me it harks back to my Aunt Mary Jane. She used to read my sixth grade essays and short stories and tear them apart and not have one single thing to say. I always felt like crawling under a rock after she read anything I wrote. Not a nice thing to do to a kid and it definitely has had an effect on me even though it happened so long ago.

  • I agree totally with you and Gary. As a “Lonely Only” child I had to learn early to pick & choose my crits & not let the viccistudes in my personal life wear me down. I have to be aware that for me being totally ignored is the worst crit of all. Right now I’m trying not to annoy my agent, although I would like to see that contract in my mailbox in the next 48 seconds!!!