Saturday, February 23, 2008

I'm the best! Or am I?

Of all the difficulties that writers struggle with, I believe problems with self-confidence are the worst. On one hand we must find the confidence to submit our work, the confidence to edit it, the confidence to promote it and yes, even the confidence to let reviewers read it.

But underneath, there is this nagging doubt that maybe we aren't nearly as good as we think we are. Maybe we just have good friends that tell us what we want to hear. Maybe we're just mediocre hacks. That doubt can destroy us.

I know of no author who couldn't be better. Not even the best, top-of-the-heap author is perfect. There is always a phrase that could be better, a place where a different word would be closer to the right word, a story strand that was clumsily woven into the story fabric. Always there is something that could be improved.

Every single book I write is the best I could write at that time. Every book is a learning experience. We write. We learn. We improve. That is true of all life experience. If we choose not to learn, then we don't improve. But as long as we write the best story we are capable of writing then we have no cause for doubt. At that particular time in our lives, we were the best.

That is the thing we must always hold close to us when doubts beset us. Did we do our best? Yes? Then that is all that we can do. The next book will be better as long as we always strive to do our best. It is only when we begin to grow careless with our work, when we don't strive to do the best that we can, that our doubts will have a real basis in fact.

Every one of us has a particular gift. A fellow writer told me that she had read one of my books and she could never write like I do. I'm glad she understands that. It would be a terrible shame if she quit writing in her own style which is a unique voice that gives me much pleasure. Selfishly I hope she never reaches a point when she decides to stop writing.

With enough training, anyone can write a technically correct sentence. But those with the gift can make that sentence sing. For one it will be an opera, for another a lullaby, and for yet another a country and western ballad. It matters not what the song is as long as it speaks to another's heart. That is the essence of writing. We speak to the hearts of our readers. As long as we do that, we are the best.

My dear friend--you speak to my heart every time I read one of your books.


kelly kirch
amarinda jones


  1. Anny, Anny, are so Zen you scare me sometimes. I agree with what you say and add that being realistic and true to yourself about your abilities is also important

  2. What a fabulous blog, Anny. Yes we strive to improve with every book we write. And we all have different voices. As long as our voice pulls the reader right into the story, we have a great book, whether it's historical, romantic suspense, erotica or paranormal.

  3. What a great blog, Anny. I think you spoke to and for all of us.

  4. I hear ya sister. I feel the same way a lot of the time. This week, in fact, but then people step forward and tell me otherwise. Then I shake my head but am left grateful.

    We all have different voices and different styles and we are ALL great writers.

  5. I've been told I have a problem with confidence. It is hard as a writer. We can always be better, but at the same time, if we kept polishing, the book would never get published. There has to be a happy point we submit the book to our editors, which we do.

    With movies, there's almost always at least one scene, no matter how wonderful the rest of the movie is, that bugs me, that could have been done better. No one still on this Earth is perfect, no matter how hard we try. That's why we have editors and proofreaders and critique partners.

  6. Confidence, or lack there of almost stopped me. I'd decided I wasn't cut out to be a writer because I didn't have a thick enough skin. I was determined I'd seen my last rejection letter because, let's face it, I just wasn't good enough.

    That's when my friends stepped in. That's when we need them the most. When they nudge us and insist, just one more time.

    Now I'm glad they did.