NB. this post was originally published on my old blog, but I have updated it as part of my website redesign.
I want to ask you a personal question. No, it’s not about your sex life. Or how much you earn. I want to ask you something even more personal than that.
Have you told yourself that you’re not good enough today? Have you told yourself that you’re a failure? Have you decided not to do something because you’re scared?
If you have, you’re not alone. I've done it as well.
I once thought about not taking a job because I was worried I wasn’t good enough to do it... after I’d been offered the job.
Even after writing more than twenty books, I still sometimes fear I'm not good enough to be an author. I question the things that I write, whether the ideas are unique enough, whether anyone will want to read my book, whether I’m going to be able to cope when I get a horrible 1-star review. I know now, with time and practise, that I am absolutely doing the right thing with my life and that I can cope with a harsh review or a rejection. But the only reason I have that understanding now is because I kept going.
In talking to other people, I've found this lack of confidence common in women, particularly for sensitive, creative types like writers. I see brilliant women cut themselves down, belittle their talents and generally talk to themselves the way that no one should ever talk to another human being, let alone themselves. Why?
Unfortunately I don’t know exactly why. All I can do is share how I’ve managed to get the confidence to continue writing, submitting, putting myself out there and generally doing other stuff that scares the shit out of me.
This is a photo from my wedding – my sister (who hated public speaking at the time) gave an impromptu speech about our wonderful friendship and I grabbed her hand because I knew she was putting herself out on a limb for me. I’m so glad the photographer was there to capture this moment, as the photo was completely unplanned.
Want to know my secret? I’ve learned to ask for support.
I have people in my life who are supportive, who don’t think my dreams are crazy and who are willing not only to help, but are also happy to put up with me when I have a meltdown about the impossibility of it all. They’re a shoulder to cry on, they give me a kick up the butt when I need it (I can thank my husband for this one), they tell me the truth about my work, they clap their hands when I achieve and sometimes they just leave me the heck alone (also, a big thanks to my husband for this one.)
But I have had to ask for this support. People aren't mind-readers and they don't know what you need unless you tell them. This hasn't been easy. Asking for things makes me horribly uncomfortable because I question whether or not I deserve what I’m asking for. But if you've got the right support network around you, asking this question will often yield a positive result.
You can ask for help, you do deserve support and success, and most importantly yes, you are good enough.
Don’t hesitate to ask a friend to lend an ear, don’t think that you’re too early (or too late) in your journey to join a writer’s group/attend a conference/submit your work. Don’t let your fear stop you from working towards your dream. You can do it.
On that note, here are a few people I would like to thank:
My husband – for everything from doing the dishes, to putting up with my cranky editing-cave BS, to letting me ugly cry when I need it.
My family – my little sister for being a shining beam of positive throughout my entire life, to Mum for reading my very first manuscript and telling me it was wonderful, for Dad for being so proud and showing me that real men have emotions.
Nan and Nonno – although you’re no longer here I feel your influence constantly. Thank you for teaching me so much in the time I had with you both. It could never have been enough.
Taryn - for the 4 hour Skype calls and daily messages of support. We're two peas in a pod, and I'm so glad we met.
Jen and Mary - for the walks and author chats, I'm always fulfilled after out catch ups.
Jill, Luke, Shiloh, Madura, Myrna, Tammy, Karen - my Toronto crew. Supper club and games nights and coffees catch ups keep me going. Thanks for making Canada feel like home.
The wonderful women I've met through the Harlequin Boards, RWA and RWAus, TRW and MRWG – there are too many people to name, but know that I'm so grateful for all the amazing friendships I've made along the way.
I know it’s hard to put yourself out there, it’s hard to believe you’ll get to where you want to be. But you can, and there are always people to help you no matter how alone you feel.