Tag Archives: Fear of failure

Imposter Syndrome, Part II

 

Last week I wrote a blog post about Imposter Syndrome. I was floored by the responses I received from readers and writers after it went live. For two days my email inbox was crawling with dozens of responses about what I’d written. Most of them were from authors – some of whom I don’t know personally. A few were from readers. All of them thanked me for calling out what it is to feel  like a professional failure, even though you’ve had a modicum of success. I ended that blog piece by saying, “STOP THINKING YOU ARE AN IMPOSTER AT THIS WHOLE WRITING THING. You write, ergo ( and don’t I just love being able to use that word!!) YOU ARE A WRITER!!!

Why don’t they get that?

A few authors wrote me that they felt like failures, and not “real” writers,  even though they had sold thousands of books, recently signed new contracts, and generally had well known names in the romance writing community. I was stunned by these revelations. My questions to each of them was : HOW DO YOU DEFINE A REAL WRITER and HOW DO YOU DEFINE SUCCESS, because it obviously isn’t in sales, or name recognition. The other question that blew through me was WHY? Why do you feel like a failure? You’ve written a book – some of you several books. They’ve been published – some traditionally, some independently. You’ve received royalties – some a lot, some not so much, but still…money! Readers know your name. Readers await your next book release. Readers WANT to read your work. So, again, WHY do you feel like professional failures?

I’m gonna take a wild guess here to answer that question, and I’m gonna ask for a little patience while I present my case, because some of you are gonna get all hot and bothered ( and not in the good, romance reading way) about what I think.

Since I write romance, that’s the genre I’m going to latch on to here for my discussion. The majority of romance writers are WOMEN. The majority of romance readers are WOMEN. The majority of people who pay cash-money for books of all genres are WOMEN. The majority of people who read for pleasure are WOMEN. The majority of people who make the most money on the planet and are responsible for the majority of decisions made ( and most of them are bad ones!) are ( wait for it ) MEN.

The definition for professional success for most men is very different for woman. Men equate success with money, material possessions, social status, and titles ( CEO, CFO, etc.) Women equate success almost the same way, but where a man will wear his success with pride and boast about it, women, it’s been my experience…will not. They tend to brush off well meaning compliments and try to turn any conversation away from themselves.

Again, this is my opinion based on years of being around very successful MEN and WOMEN and seeing how they react so differently when given praise or asked about their accomplishments. I’ve been in a room filled equally with writers of both sexes and the male voices are usually the loudest, the ones filled with the most hubris, and the ones bragging on their next book sales. The women, when given praise about their own bestsellers and highly anticipated new releases, have typically waved off the compliments, and redirected the praise. When you ask a male writer what he is working on you get chapter, book, verse and verbal diarrhea about the plot and everything else. Women will give you an elevator pitch and then move on to another topic.

Women do not like talking about themselves. Most women, that is. There are a few who drone on incessantly as if they were the only ones on the planet or in the discussion. We all know people like that. But for the majority, women still tend to take a back seat when it comes to broadcasting their successes and this is the reason I think they feel like imposters, frauds, and are faking it.

To these wonderful woman I say OWN IT!! 

Own your success. Wear it like a badge of courage for all your hard work.

 

I raised my daughter to be proud of herself – her successes and goal achievements. I raised her to accept her failures, learn from them and grow with them. I raised her with the knowledge she could walk through any door with her head held high, knowing she could make of herself anything she wanted. I thank the gods of everything she is the woman she was always meant to be. She doesn’t brag, but when given a compliment, accepts it, graciously. She doesn’t extol her own virtues and successes, but she doesn’t dismiss them with an embarrassed hand wave when someone mentions them, either. And she is forever lifting others up both verbally, spiritually, and emotionally.

To all the female writers I know who suffer thru imposter syndrome please know this: YOU ARE NOT AN IMPOSTER and no one has the right to make you feel less than a success.

Own it. Be it. Wear it. YOU ARE A WRITER.

‘Nuff said.

 

If you’re looking for me, I’m usually here:

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Another word about speaking in public…

The other day I wrote about how miserable a public speaker I’ve become. In truth, it’s because I don’t get the chance to do it as often as I used to so I’m kinda out of practice. Hand in hand with being terrified to speak in public is my fear of reading my own words out loud when there are more people than just me in a room.

Case in point: last year at NECRW2017 I was part of a group of authors who did a live reading of their current books. I thought it would be a good way to get my written work out there and hopefully garner some new readers. No brainer, right?

Yeah, no.

Up until the moment I was called upon to read I still hadn’t chosen the excerpt I wanted to share. The book was my newest one for Lyrical, COOKING WITH  KANDY, which had come out a few weeks earlier, and I wanted to read something that would spark ( hopefully) a listener enough to want to buy the book. Right up to the second moderator and host Damon Suede called my name, I was still undecided.

Then, my name was called and up to the microphone I went. I took a breath – three in fact – so deep it looked like I might be having the beginning of an asthma attack to those who knew what to look for(!) and read a simple passage loaded with emotions between the two main characters.

495 words.

8 minutes to complete.

I kinda left my body for the experience, because I really don’t remember much. When I sat back down, Damon said, “Am I right that was your very first public reading?”

My heart stopped beating when he said that. Christ! Had it been that bad? That obvious? That horrible a reading?

I nodded, unable to form coherent words in response.

Damon grinned and said something like, “So, yay! You’re not a reading virgin anymore! We popped your cherry!”

Everyone – including me – laughed. I know I turned sixteen shades of boiled tomato red, but still, his comment broke the tension that had coiled deep in me. Bless the man!

Next time ( and I can hear you now asking She’s gonna do it again???!!), yes, NEXT time, I’ll be less nervous, better prepared, and practice what I want to read before I get up and do so.

And BTW, Damon Suede has a great article in this month’s RWA magazine –  for those of you who subscribe –  about authors and public reading of their work. It’s well worth the read!

When I’m not obsessing about speaking in public you can usually find me here:

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I’m better on the page…

Here’s a simple truth: I get nervous when I have to talk in front of people I don’t know.  Nervous, like I start to babble, get sidetracked, even stutter at times. I wasn’t like this when I was in my 20’s and 30’s. Back then I used to teach nursing courses as a sideline and I could stand in front of a group for hours on end talking about acid-base balance and the benefits of one sized catheter over another. Then, when I was the coordinator of an Alzheimer’s unit in a nursing home, I not only ran weekly seminars for the families of the residents, I went out into the community and spoke to various groups about mental health, the elderly, and nursing concerns.

I’ve always said I’ll talk to anything or anyone – even a rock.

But, now, in my 50’s, I’m not the public speaker I used to be. Part of the reason I think is because I’m alone so much. Writing is, for all intents and purposes, a solitary career. If I don’t read my dialogue aloud, sometimes I won’t hear a voice for 14 hours in a day. It’s made me a little gun-shy of speaking to a crowd. When I “speak” on the page, I can edit what I don’t like. In person, well…real life doesn’t have an edit button ou can press.

I tell you all this because I just found out something that’s made me relieved and just a little sad, as well. I submitted a proposal to RWA this year to give a lecture on a topic. I was denied. I’m sad about that because the topic is a really good, very relevant, and funny one. I’m relieved because now I don’t have to get up in front of a bunch of strangers and talk.

WHY, you ask, would I submit to do something that I obviously am not good at ( public speaking) and that I’m afraid/nervous to do?

Well, since you’ve asked ( heehee) I’ll tell you.

One of my favorite quotes is this one from Eleanor Roosevelt.

The reason I lovelovelove that quote is because of its call to empowerment. Anyone can do something that is familiar and comfortable. I get that, I really do. I’m the type of person who likes to eat the same things because they are familiar ( and I know I won’t get a sick stomach or have an allergy attack), visit the same places, wear pretty much the same style of clothing and hairstyle since the 80’s. Things that are familiar are comfortable and feel safe to me.

But doing something that you think you can’t, or don’t want to,  or won’t be able to, well…that takes courage. Gumption. Nerve. Audacity.  Fearlessness. And when you do it you get such a rush of power and a sense of personal accomplishment that you begin to wonder why you didn’t want to do it in the first place!

So, subjecting myself to the possibility I’d have to speak in public even though it terrifies me, is just one of those things I need to do to prove I can. To empower myself. To help me grow as a human.

It’s still kinda funny that I’m sad AND glad I didn’t get in, though!

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A new experience…

Every year for our birthdays, my daughter and I elect to give each other a memorable experience in lieu of a standard gift. (Full disclosure here: I still get her a gift!!) For her 25th birthday, we took a cooking class together, as an example. When my birthday rolled around this year, she asked what I wanted to do that we hadn’t done before and she gave me a few options. One of them was going to trapeze school.

I can hear you saying now, “Excuse me, WHAT?”
Yes, you heard ( or read!) correctly. I wanted to learn how to fly on a trapeze. On a bar. 30 feet above the ground. And yes, with a net under me. I’m not totally a moron or have a death wish.

Anyway….

Over this past weekend, my daughter and I went to trapeze school.

It was as terrifying as I thought it would be, but it was so much more.

My daughter gave me the option of going first. I took it. As I climbed the 25 foot ladder up to the jumping off stand, I started to run in my mind the last time I paid my life insurance policy, was it up-t0-date? Who was my beneficiary? When I got to the stand, shaking and feeling as if I was going to throw up the oatmeal I had for breakfast ( more on that later) I must have telegraphed my absolute terror to the man who was going to strap me in and basically shove me off the stand because he said, “first time?”

Jeeze. What gave me away? The fact the ladder was clanging from my shaking hands? The pallor of my face? The fact my pupils were constricted with fear?

Anyway…he was lovely, reassuring, and very strong, thankfully. I did as I was instructed: one arm out to catch the bar, one hand behind me holding onto another bar, bend my knees, breathe. ON his count, he made me switch to both hands on the bar, put ten toes over the ledge and don’t look down, just focus on the distance. Now, of course, you know when someone tells you not to look down the first thing you do is….look down!! And sweet, baby Jesus, was I high up. Like third story building high up. On the count of three, he said, “go.” And I…went.

You never know how much you value your life as when it flashes before your eyes.

From below, the main instructor was calling out instructions, the most important one? “Focus on my voice!!” I did. I straightened my legs, lifted them when told, swung them around the bar so that now I was holding on and my knees were clutching the bar. When he said, “Let go and drop backward,” another flash flew past me and I…let go and leaned backward. I think at this time I screamed “Holy, Shit!”  but since neither my daughter nor my husband was videoing me, I can’t remember for sure. I do remember thinking “I’m actually doing this and not dying!!  Then I thought, “yet!”

Next instruction? Lift back up, drop your legs and let go.

Now, upside down hanging from the backs of my thighs is a position I never in 1,000,000 years thoughts I’d ever be in. But, I was. Looking at the world from 30 feet up and upside down is…interesting. And, I will admit, a total rush. And a little nauseating…damn that oatmeal.

Okay, so after a few seconds of this experience the instructor yelled, “Put your hands back up on the bar, drop your legs, and let go.”

Okay, what? Let go? I guess  I thought they would somehow lower me back down. The thought I had to DROP never crossed my mind. He said it again. “Let go.” So, I did.

The fact that I’m here, writing this, proves I didn’t die!!!

Now, no one took video of me doing this, so when it was my daughter’s turn, of course, I had that camera all set to record. Here is her much more stylish swing through:  

And, yes, it goes just that fast!!

So after the first time, when I was letter friggin’ perfect, you’d probably think it was a piece of cake after that and that the next time I’d be even better. Yeah…not so much. You never realize how much you weigh or what terrible shape your arm muscles are in until you are trying to hang with all your weight dropping straight down and someone yells “lift you legs over the bar.” So, I was a one hit wonder with the trapeze bar. Got a perfect 10 on my first try. I should have stopped there, but you know…competition! I tried 2 more times and then that damn oatmeal got the better of me and I got really sick and we had to call it a morning.

But for a few quick hours I flew like a bird. An overweight, middle aged, not very strong bird….but one, nonetheless.

And it was friggin’ fabulous!

One of my favorite human beings is Eleanor Roosevelt. She once said, “you must do the things that terrify you.” And I did!

So, next year’s birthday experience? Sky diving sounds good, no?

When I’m not doing birthday or bucket list things, you can find me here::Tweet Me//Read Me// Visit Me//Picture Me//Pin Me//Friend Me//Google+Me// Triberr

 

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On being a #writer and #publicSpeaking

So this past Saturday I gave my first ever PowerPoint presentation to my local chapter of RWA.

To say I was nervous would be to do a disservice to the knocking in my knees and the way my heart was shooting extra beats.

I’ve spoken publically before, — hell, I use to teach Nursing to undergrads! – but I haven’t spoken publically in a very long time. In fact, I haven’t done anything publically in a very long time, not since I retired and started writing full time.

I think I was nervous because  I didn’t want to screw up, be boring, or deliver a topic that didn’t appeal to the audience. I didn’t eat anything all day because I was terrified I’d hurl!

I’m sitting here to report (1) I did not hurl, (2) I was absolutely starving the minute the presentation ended! (3) my audience laughed, repeatedly and freely in all the appropriate spots (4) there was discussion about the topic – a lot of discussion, so YAY!, and (5) my audience seemed to genuinely like the presentation.

So, again, YAY!!!

Now I just have to get my nerve up again, because I’m giving this presentation again next month to another group.

But I’ll think about that…tomorrow. After all, tomorrow is another day.

When I’m not being overly dramatic, you can find me here:

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Public speaking isn’t for sissies…

So, this weekend I’ll be here:

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I’m part of the Vendor’s event on Friday night,  hawking my books and pressing the flesh ( why that always sounds so dirty to me, I can’t tell ya, but it does! )

Saturday I’m giving two “talks” or classes, as the camp is calling them. One is titled DREAM BIG the other, WRITING A BOOK, two concepts I know a great deal about.

Anyone who knows me knows I love to talk. I’ll talk to practically anyone, anywhere any time. My grandmother used to say I’d talk to a rock if it would listen. She’s wasn’t wrong.

But speaking to another person one-on-one or in a small group of your friends is totally different from getting up in front of a bunch of strangers and commanding a topic.

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I tend to babble when I’m nervous. I tend to go off on tangents if something strikes me as funny. I tend to avoid eye contact because I’m so nervous. None of these little idiosyncrasies warms a listener’s heart when they have paid cash-money to hear you speak about a topic you are supposed to be proficient in and an expert on.

There are a million tactics to dealing with this nervous anxiety. Picturing your audience naked is one of the oldest and most quoted pieces of advice. But folks, seriously? I’m a romance writer. I write about naked people all the time! If I started envisioning my audience naked I’d most likely start to think up stories to put couples in the crowd together! Not a good tactic at all.

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Someone else offered me the advice of speaking to the crowd as if they were all a bunch of my friends and we were just chatting. Again- do you know me??? I have more “friends” on facebook than I do in real life. I’m never around more than 4 people at a time. EVAH!!!

One thing I did do for these two talks was write out all the bullet points I wanted to speak about and then transferred them to index cards. At least this way I can stick to topic and not go off on one of my numerous side trips and a non-sensical conversations.

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Arghghgh, as Charlie Brown so correctly says.

What have I gotten myself into? It’s so hard being a 50-ish, chubby, nervous, introvert in today’s youth obsessed, anorexic, let-everything-hang-out-there world.

I think I’ll go back to writing now to calm myself.

When I’m not having anxiety attacks about public speaking you can find me here:

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Release-Eve thoughts….

Tomorrow, Skater’s Waltz is released into the world. Last week I admitted how fretful – well, terrified really – I am about this for a  number of reasons. I’ve had a few days to sit back and, while biting my nails, reflect on this. So here goes.

I am a truly private person. I know that sounds ridiculous since I have this blog, Facebook account, Twitter handle, am a Pinterest follower am LinkedIn, and Google plus-ed, but it’s true. As much as is “out there” in the cyber-verse about me, I keep a great deal of my emotions, thoughts ( yes, believe it!), and musings locked in my head. So when I tell you I’m terrified of this book failing, it is a huge admission for me to give a voice to.

I fail all the time. It’s true. I fail at weight loss, I fail to keep up with my exercise regimen, I fail people…enough about that one. So, you can see, failure is familiar to me and I usually don’t dwell on it, just get back on my proverbial horse and push on.

But this… this is soooooo different in every aspect. This book represents everything about me. My hopes, my dreams, my thoughts, my words, my loves. To have it fail – and by fail I mean, no one likes it, derides it, and makes fun of it – would, quite simply, be devastating.

I know I shouldn’t dwell on failure, because it can be a self fulfilling prophecy. Obviously, someone liked it because it’s being published. So there’s that. People will say “don’t worry about it. Everything will be fine.” And that’s nice to hear. But it’s so easy for someone else to say. Unless you have been in this position, as any writer has, it is impossible to empathize with what this feels like in your heart, soul and mind. As a writer, you put yourself out there on a ledge by asking people to read what you have to say. You love what you’ve written. It represents something that came from deep inside you, something that you gave your all to in order to bring forth. Discovering that people don’t like it, or worse – think it’s silly or stupid, or (the ultimate worst) badly written, is heartstoppingly traumatizing. I can hear how dramatic this sounds but believe me, from a writer’s viewpoint, it’s true.

As for the rest, I guess tomorrow will tell. I’ve done everything I could to promote it, market it, spread the word, and try to drum up some excitement from the people I know. I guess, as always, time will tell.

For now though, I’m going to go have a cookie…or several. And then try to exercise.

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