My greatest struggle as a writer is believing that the words I write matter or that they are good enough.
I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember, yet I lived in denial that I was a “real writer.” When I talked about my books, I’d always add “but I self-published” as if that made them or me lesser than other writers.
When I was in high school, someone close to me (who will remain nameless and unidentifiable) told me that my kindergarten art was better than my writing. Those words hurt and they stuck with me. Every word I wrote and refused to share was tainted by that statement. Even now, twenty years later, the sting of what they said is just as painful.
My self-doubt grew from there. People close to me that don’t or won’t read my writing or books because they prefer books that “tell stories” as if they stories I told weren’t important or creative enough. For years I took this feedback personally, and I’d be lying if I said it didn’t still bother me.
As a reader, I know and understand that not every book is for every reader. We all connect to different stories and characters. But when it comes from the people that should be in your corner, the rejection digs a little deeper.
Earlier this year, I read an early manuscript of a local author. It was her second book and I’d loved her first, so I was eager to dive in. I devoured it in a night. It was that good. She asked if there was anything she could do to thank me. It took a while to build the courage to ask, but I asked her to read my third release and share her feedback. One of the questions I asked was “do you think this is as good as other published books.” What I was asking her was if I was good enough. Could she see something in me that I couldn’t.
The simple “Yes, you’re books are good enough” from one person changed my mindset. Around this time, I also connected with a Bookstagrammer who would become not only a friend but also a critique partner. She might also be my first “fan,” but she is definitely one of my biggest supporters and cheerleaders.
I didn’t want to be a writer, I was a writer. I am a writer. That was all it took. Sure I still have doubts and rejection will always sting, but the power that lies in believing in yourself makes all the difference. Anytime I start to doubt myself or my talent, I often come back to her email and her words of encouragement and confidence that she’s since shared.
Her words combined with the support from my critique partner have pushed me forward and given me the courage to put myself out there. These two women, who are also both amazing writers, helped me find my voice. Their belief in me has made all the difference.
I am a writer. My words matter. My stories are worth telling.
Thank you Rea and Leah for believing in me and reading my words. In Leah’s case, reading them over and over and over while pointing out typos with her Takis.