Rebuilding My Confidence

So I've been talking about confidence lately. I was specifically talking about finding confidence in my writing again after somehow losing it, and then, you know, Life Happened.

[By the way, these posts are by no means a how-to guide. I am sharing them in hopes they might help someone else who might be experiencing low confidence with their writing. We can commiserate.]

Before I address all that life stuff, I just want to be clear about one thing: I wasn't complaining about receiving critiques. I love getting critiques. I love getting to hear ways to improve my work. These posts about confidence are about me trying to figure out where I went wrong, identify the cause, and then figure how to not let it happen again. Because that's what I do when I'm faced with a problem. I'm not trying to complain.

In regards to the posts so far, I was leading into this: to be in a place to receive a critique, first I have to be clear about my story. I have to know what it is I want the text to deliver, so that I can figure out if I've achieved that.

But here's the tricky part: every reader brings his/her own experiences to the page. And those experiences inform and change the text. They cast coloured lights on the black & white page, giving it a whole new presentation I hadn't intended.

I don't think there's any way around this. In ideal world, I think we all would like critique partners who are able to discern their own projections from the text. But not every writer/critiquer is at that level of awareness. So, I think the matter of working with a critique partner comes down--once again-- to knowing my story. So that if I suspect a critiquer is projecting too much, I can ask. And that is matter of being comfortable enough to do so. Which I have not been. And I know it. But now that I am aware of this weakness, I can work to fix it.

Obviously, this is a problem of technology. I think a face-to-face critique would yield much different experiences. Trust is merely an illusion on the Web. [And that is a post for another day.] And maybe I will look to start or find a critique group in my area.

So I know there are a few of you wondering how's my confidence doing now?

Much better, thank you. But I won't lie. Being laid off was a harsh and cruel blow. I am a good worker, a hard worker, a loyal and dedicated worker. The lay-off was entirely a financial decision and not performance related, so I probably shouldn't have taken it as hard as I did, but in my own defense, I was only given 8-days' notice. That I worked for a government-funded employment agency only made the suddenness, the harshness that much worse.

But when I was talking to a counsellor-friend there, I mentioned this was not the first time my employment had come to an end through no choice of my own. There was a repeating pattern. I asked her what I was doing wrong? She replied, "You're not following your bliss." She was right.

So here I am now, picking up the pieces of my self-esteem and rebuilding. Following my bliss.

Do you know I get up every day, filled with joy that I get to see my boys off to school? That I am delighted I get to sit down and make stories happen?

Do you know I am down a jeans size and have lost the bags under my eyes, simply by losing the stress of doing a job that is clearly not part of my bliss?

Would you believe my confidence is actually higher now? I can hear the stories more clearly. My imagination has more time to run freely. I don't have to stop writing at 7 AM anymore.

The story I'm working on is not perfect. It's a shitty first draft and I know it. But it's fun. And it's a joy to work on it. And somehow this has translated to confidence on the page.

[Like I said, this is not a how-to guide. I do not advise getting laid off in order to find confidence in your writing. If you're looking for advice, I can give this: make decisions, make your story clear, don't be wishy-washy on the page. Trust yourself. You can do it.]