AdministratorJuly 2, 2020 at 8:24 pm
I was very struck by something Chaya Baila Lieber mentioned in her recent workshop on Publishing: The Inside Story. She said, “We get so many submissions that start with a big apology. ‘I know you must be so busy…’, ‘I’m sorry to bother you…'”
The language we use is very powerful; there is a simultaneous feedback loop that links between our words and our inner beliefs. When we say things like, “I’m not a REAL writer,” we reinforce the fact that we are floundering wannabes. When we find ourselves apologizing for “troubling” an editor to look at our work, we are consciously or unconsciously devaluing that work. Underlying message: It’s not worth reading; I’m sorry for wasting your time!
In a recent post, a new member asked when an individual officially dons the “crown” and can resolutely call herself a capital Writer. I think it’s time to break open this topic and hear all of your thoughts on it. Let’s go ahead and open that big can of worms and just get all that self-doubt and fear out in the open. Where does it come from and, even more importantly, where does it lead?
Be brave, wonderful women of Masterpiece! The only way out is through!
MemberJuly 2, 2020 at 8:47 pm
In general in life we do this. I think sometimes it’s to protect ourselves from rejection. If I diminish myself first, then maybe it won’t hurt as much when someone else does…
MemberJuly 3, 2020 at 1:50 pm
Yes, yes… agreed. I find it hard to share my creative ideas with others for this exact reason.
MemberJuly 2, 2020 at 9:54 pm
I think you’re a writer when you decide that you are one.
See, I have no writing education past 12th grade. There is nothing professional about me… Yet, the best writing advice I ever got was to pretend that I’m the best writer in the world, whenever I write. And that’s irrelevant whether or not it’s true. So… whenever I sit down to write, I say, “Brocha (I’m lying, I don’t say Brocha, I say my real name 😉 ), you write well. Now go ahead and start.” Today I write for a local magazine and I do school/camp lyrics as well, and still – every time! – I’m sure that they will hate my work. But that pep talk gets me to start writing and to submit.
As for apologizing… these are my thoughts. When you get your nails done, I imagine you don’t apologize to the manicurist. It’s her job. Some people’s nails are easier to deal with than others and if your nails are more challenging, well, it’s all in a day’s work. Isn’t it the same for the editors? Their job is to read and select. Some work will be better than others. So whose time is wasted? Yours? Certainly not, every time you submit, you are winning a battle 🙂 by acknowledging that a boat that’s tied to the dock cannot sink, but it also doesn’t get very far. The editor’s time? Well… it’s all in a day’s work, isn’t it?
You know… outside the town in which I live, no one knows my name. I literally nobody in the writing world. But I’m a Writer. Why? Because I think I’m one :-).
MemberJuly 3, 2020 at 1:43 am
It’s so true- people apologize when they submit their work because they don’t value themselves- or their right (and obligation!) to express themselves and have a voice.
When do you become a writer? When you decide this is what you want. “B’derech sh’adam rotzei leilech molichin oso”- if that’s the direction you want to head in life, Hashem will help you get there.
MemberJuly 3, 2020 at 1:53 am
Where does self doubt come from? Having your feelings and retzonos constantly being squashed in childhood and teen hood- and then you learn from that to do it to yourself in adulthood. When you doubt your feelings (or that they even have a right to exist) you essentially are doubting yourself. Trusting yourself starts with learning to trust your feelings. I think this is what gives confidence…the people that are confidant always trust themselves…if they want something, they don’t go around apologizing for wanting it- they just get it/do it, finished.
MemberJuly 3, 2020 at 3:22 am
Only recently have I started to call myself a writer. And that’s because I stopped teaching, so writing has become the thing that I do primarily, and when someone asks, that’s what say…
But when I first started writing I didn’t call myself one, I told myself I wasn’t one until I had something published. But once that happened my mind raised the bar to a few essays, then it had to be a story, then multiple stories, and then only if I wrote a serial, and then only if I had a column.
Like many people, I had imposter syndrome; my creative writing education started and ended with my own curiosity.
I rationalized my thoughts, thinking that calling myself a writer was pretentious, especially if I wasn’t doing it full time.
But there came a point that I just moved past the word and the baggage it came with, and just wrote. Call me a scribe, a storyteller and entertainer – call me whatever you want, as long as I get do what I want.
MemberJuly 3, 2020 at 4:13 am
I’ve never published (besides a few poems here and there), but I still call myself a ‘writer’! It depends how you define ‘writer’. Some would say it means you are prolific, professional, or at least published. Some, like me, would say all it means is that you write. Do you have to be a good mother to call yourself one? Do you have to be a good teacher to call yourself one? Does the world have to know your name in order for you to be a ‘writer’? No!
You could call me naive if you want…
AdministratorJuly 8, 2020 at 5:03 pm
Great responses, as always, ladies!
I think confidence and competence play this very interrelated, very symbiotic and often elusive dance. We can be competent without being confident, which comes at great risk to ourselves, and also affects others around us (children, spouse, co-workers, parents who have always wished their daughter would “recognize her own strengths”, etc.). We can be confident without being competent, which would likely come off to others as disingenuous. “Competence” and “confidence” are also terms that are very much open to interpretation. Does “competence” mean that I am widely published? Does it mean that I have sold x amount of books? Does “confidence” mean that I am full of myself, or that I can submit a manuscript without needing to apologize?
There is a nature and a nurture element here as well. Some people are just naturally more confident, but I believe even those who aren’t can cultivate it.
Just a little food for thought for your Wednesday mind-brunch! 🙂
MemberJuly 8, 2020 at 8:54 pm
The common thread I read in so many of your introductions is how you love to write, have been doing it since you were children, etc.. It’s so different for me. I never particularly liked writing. It was never a goal. I never gave it a second thought. I really do feel like an impostor. I got into this totally by accident. Someone suggested that I write up an inspiring experience that I had, and it got published. Things just sort of took off from there. I stepped into a whole new world which I enjoy. I also enjoy being part of this group. But I don’t feel like my writing defines me. It takes a back seat to my role as wife, mother, and professional (my day job). But it’s a lot of fun. But this thread got me thinking. Maybe I keep my distance as a defense. If my work gets rejected, it’s okay because I’m not really a writer anyway. Could be.
MemberJuly 8, 2020 at 11:48 pm
I love this discussion!
I also believe that saying I’m not a writer or sorry for wasting your time is unconsciously devaluing your work. It all goes back to self-esteem and self-confidence; how you feel about yourself – if you value yourself. I would probably call myself a writer because Ive written lots of things, but again, my articles or poems we never officially published. Each time I sent in a submission, it got rejected and I was devastated, and thus Didn’t feel it worthy to call myself a writer. I feel I have the belief that once you’ve published something then you’re officially deemed a writer. For me, breaking into the writing field and trying to get published so so hard. I felt like I kept hitting A brick wall. And so, I waver between calling myself a writer because I think I write well, but yet I barely get published.
MemberJuly 9, 2020 at 12:33 am
[quote quote=19822]I’ve never published (besides a few poems here and there), but I still call myself a ‘writer’! It depends how you define ‘writer’. Some would say it means you are prolific, professional, or at least published. Some, like me, would say all it means is that you write. Do you have to be a good mother to call yourself one? Do you have to be a good teacher to call yourself one? Does the world have to know your name in order for you to be a ‘writer’? No! You could call me naive if you want…[/quote]
I guess this should be for another thread, but where did you get your poetry published?
MemberOctober 8, 2020 at 12:59 am
<p>@Fayge, I just saw this question now 🙂 I’ve had some of my poems published in a local publication, The Lakewood Shopper’s “Family Room”. <br></p>
MemberOctober 8, 2020 at 1:58 am
I just saw this thread now and I’m so glad it got pushed to the top!I think that writing is a personal thing, unless you’re writing for the public. I really only write things for myself – I never even tried to publish – but I still call myself a writer because I do it for me. I recently shared something I wrote with a mentor and she said “I wonder if you’ll ever become a writer”. And I said to her “I write for myself so I am a writer. I’m not writing for the public, but if people want to read my things, they’re welcome to.” I believe that writing is a very personal thing and part of my journey. I feel like writing is either for entertainment and education (and should be published) or it’s meant to help the writer process something or get to a certain place. If writing helps me, then it’s fulfilling it’s purpose and therefore I am a writer.
MemberOctober 8, 2020 at 5:14 am
There aren’t enough numbers in the world to count how many times I’ve reached out to a writer or magazine or (we can even take writing out of this) literally any person who is more accomplished or authoritative than I, and apologized. The funny thing is, I do consider myself a writer, I have gotten work published, and I am proud of the work I put out there. It’s totally a self-esteem thing. You feel unworthy to stand in the shadows of people who have brought out the sun and illuminated the world with their successes. And let’s face it, simply put, they’re just cool. You just want to get to that point where your work is out there and people are trying to ring you up for advice (and of course you are going to answer every single person and make them feel special because that’s what you wanted when you were a fledgling writer reaching out to these people;) You feel like nothing you say will compare to their ginormous impact, you feel insignificant and embarrassed to even speak your mind. I can’t offer the magic cure because I still struggle with this, but I do believe in my kishkas that it takes a lot of self-acceptance and realizations that even if the coolest most authoritative person laughs at you or says “no” you shouldn’t take it as a sign to stop but as a sign of redirection. I think writers need to realize that the word no should only be in their writing and not in their vocabulary. Because if it doesn’t work in one place it works in another. And if you love the piece more than anything and it keeps getting rejected no matter how many times you’ve edited it, then keep it for yourself – it has still changed someone. That’s what we want ultimately, right? For our writing to enact change. To move people. It’s ok for that person to be yourself. Take it from someone who has sent her writings to COUNTLESS authors and writers and publishers and still hasn’t had her name fully “out there” – the only thing that makes you a “Writer” is if you “Write”. No one can take that away from you. I still really struggle with apologizing but it doesn’t take away from the pride I feel when I look at a finished product. As juvenile as it seems, after I slave over a piece, I always think in my head I did that, because I did. And it feels good. And if a person doesn’t have time for you, they won’t get back to you. But you never know, it’s not that people can surprise you, it’s that with enough confidence, you can surprise yourself. By the way, to add on to what mommy writer said, and this may be real blasphemy for all writers out there but I’m going to say it anyways; I don’t think any writer really ENJOYS writing. It’s hard work. It’s draining, when I sit down in front of my computer the first three lines I write down is how much I hate this and don’t want to do this, and how I wish I could be doing literally anything else right now. Maybe it’s just me, but the writing process is very self-deprecating, it’s not why I write. I write because after a gazillion tries, when I finally get the words out and see what I can accomplish the feeling is literally *chefs kiss*. There are no other words for it. That’s the confidence I should bottle up tight and save whenever I feel like apologizing.
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