Dealing with feelings of inadequacy
It’s just 10 hours before my new storyletter Tall and Tiny Tales goes live with its first episode and podcast.
I think I’ve done my groundwork well: it’s a good concept well-executed, with some strong material … I think. My attempts at promotion have been moderately successful: I have over 60 subscribers on board. That’s not a bad start!
But what if it’s crap?
Will I see my subscribers desert in droves?
Who am I to think that I can reinvent myself as a fiction writer anyway?
Am I making a fool of myself?
Similar thoughts are often at the back of my mind when I try to do something that I haven’t done before.
I felt them when I was a postgraduate writing my Ph.D., submitting papers and book reviews to academic journals.
I felt them as a young editor in my first job, dealing with senior management; in my second job, representing my company in its dealings with a partner company in Germany.
I felt them as a young freelance writer, telling potential clients at book fairs ‘Sure, I can do that.’ Thinking all the while at the back of my mind: ‘Can I do that? I don’t think I can …’
I always could. I finished the Ph.D.; earned respect in my work; won clients; established myself as a professional writer.
I often felt this self-doubt in my social life as well. I frequently felt unattractive, uninteresting, unlovable, particularly as a young man.
Yet many women (and a few men) liked me, some loved me more than I deserved. My wife has, unaccountably, stuck with me for 28 years and counting.
Still I schlep around a great load of self-doubt.
But hey, don’t most of us? I tend to find people with apparently unshakeable self-confidence obnoxious and … dull. Moreover, if we’re not exposing ourselves to the possibility of failure, maybe we’re just not trying hard enough.
If Tall and Tiny Tales is a success or a debacle, I’ll learn something. It’s the experiences in between – the ones that are a little bit ‘Wow!’ a little bit ‘Meh …’ but mostly ‘Eh?’ – that are hard to interpret, hard to learn from.
Then, sometimes, there is no usable feedback at all. I expect you too have had the experience of publishing a piece of work that you’re really proud of, sitting back waiting in anticipation for your readers’ reaction and …
Was it the wrong time of day to post? Has there been a sneaky change in the algorithm? Was it just bad luck? Or is there something off about this piece that I was so pleased with?
We rarely get a clear answer.
I wonder how the new venture will turn out? It will, at any rate, be interesting. Wish me luck!