#IWSG: Because my Mother Said So

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It’s the first Wednesday of the month and I’m participating in Alex J Cavanaugh’s Insecure Writers Support Group day! You can find a list of other participants here.


I think there comes a point in every writer’s life when we have to ask ourselves if we’re really persistent or completely delusional. (I touched on this in my post on Monday; how I wonder if I’m like one of those awful contestants on American Idol; the really bad singers who are convinced that they are going to make it to Hollywood and then go on from there to win the whole competition, even though their singing could get them fined for disturbing the peace). Sometimes I wonder if I’m one of those people. I think of how, despite all of the rejection I’ve received as I writer, I keep on believing in myself. I wonder; am I persistent or delusional? It doesn’t help when your family doesn’t understand how the publishing business works.

My mom, for instance, has been asking me for the last five years, “Have you sold your story?” (I keep wondering which story she’s referring to, and if she thinks I’ve been sitting around moping with the same manuscript since 2007.)
“I haven’t.”
“Well, I was just telling Brenda the other day I can’t understand why someone hasn’t picked you up yet!” (My mom thinks the publishing industry is like the NBA draft.)
I said, “Why did you tell her that?”
“Because you can’t sell your story!”
“Mama, it’s not that simple.”
“As good as you are I know someone’s gonna pick you up!” (I don’t know how she knows I’m good since she hasn’t read anything I’ve written since third grade. The story was called “Sheeba the Cat” and was so awful I don’t blame her for running every time I show up on her doorstep with a recently completed manuscript.)

The truth is that even if I took the time to tell my mother:
1. My previous projects were okay but probably not so great.
2. Writers get better with age.
3. What’s good or bad in writing is completely subjective so agents and publishers probably aren’t the vapid blood suckers we writers think they are.
4. Self publishing is a viable option but is something I need to fully understand before jumping into it head first.
5. Just because she thinks I’m good doesn’t make it so.
6. Sometimes, these things just take time.

Even if I took the time to explain all of this to her, I’m sure she would say, “Well, I still don’t understand why someone hasn’t picked you up.” And I would end up pulling my hair out and vowing to never talk to her about my writing career again.

It also doesn’t help that whenever I tell someone that I went to school for creative writing they look as if I just told them I’m getting a leg amputated in two weeks. Their faces say, “Oh, no. You poor dear. I’ll pray for you.” And then I wonder if I should have studied something more practical, like acting.

The only consolation I have is that yes, I am getting better. But I still wonder: will it ever happen? Unlike an NBA career, there is no cut off point for a writer. We can sit and wish and say, “Maybe the next project will be the one” until we’re ninety. Although that thought scares the crap out of me, there is still a glimmer of hope that yes, this project, will be the one. And then I tell myself that I am good, if only because my mother says so, and then I get up and push through the doubt and write. No matter how frequently I am plagued by “but what if this project doesn’t (fill in the blank)” I know that I have to forge ahead, believing, like those American Idol contestants, that no matter what anybody else says, I’m gonna win this thing.




33 thoughts on “#IWSG: Because my Mother Said So

  1. Your mum is precious, I’d keep her if I was you. LOL. My mother used to say the same thing. Sadly, she didn’t live to see me published. When writing is so firmly embedded in your soul, I can’t see any other conclusion but getting published. When it happens, you’ll wonder how you could have ever doubted yourself.

    Happy IWSG. I’m #192
    joylene recently posted..ASK PZM: Oct 2012 reviewsMy Profile

  2. What is the definition of insanity? When someone keeps doing the same thing over and over expecting different results. Yes, all writers are a bit insane. I think we have to be crazy to persist relentlessly in the face of rejection. Just remember that you will make it if you stick with it and you don’t have to self-publish to make it. Not that there is anything wrong with doing it completely on your own.

  3. Faith is belief not based on proof. You haven’t been published… yet. There is no proof verifying or validating you’re a writer if being published is the proof you need. But you ARE a writer! You just need to have faith that you will be published! And isn’t having faith that it will happen part of the fun? Last year, I took a leap of faith to live a different life with my family and allowed myself to dream of a new career. We weren’t sure it would work out, but we proceeded as if it was going to happen… and it did. I think you need to continue to have tenacity in your writing, faith in your dream of being published, and proceed as if it is going to happen!

    Best Wishes! Jenny

  4. Great post! I’ve often wondered the same thing about judging my own work. A few months ago I beta-read two books and I could immediately see the difference in quality of writing. Unfortunately, I have NO IDEA where my work would lie on that spectrum.

    But, I think you nailed it with persistence. All we can do is keep growing as writers, pursue it as a craft, and hope for the best. Good luck with everything!
    Jeannette recently posted..Insecure Writer’s Support Group 3My Profile

  5. Hey Quanie, nice to meet you.

    Great post. Touched on that nagging insecurity most writers seem to share ‘What if I’m just not good enough?’

    So, you studied ‘Creative Writing’, poor dear. I choose something much more stable like ‘Acting’ – Theater Major actually. Don’t give up your day job, if you call waiting tables or tending bar a day job, but think of the stories you have to tell.

    I find that when all else fails, it’s best to ‘listen to your mother’ after all she knows best. Then go sit down and write something.

  6. I do find that parents think everything you write is great, even if it isn’t that good. Why do they have to be so gosh darn supportive and over positive all the time?? haha, only kidding. It’s great to have people who love what you do, but it’s also great to find critique partners (who aren’t family) who can give you honest criticism and push you to improve.

    Allison (Geek Banter)
    Allison recently posted..Pantser or Plotter?My Profile

  7. Beautifully expressed. I think with persistence, belief in one’s abilities, and an honest dedication to learn and improve will overcome any delusional thinking or negative influence from the outside. I think you’ve got what it takes and you will eventually connect with whatever will take you to your goals. Don’t give up! I don’t think you will.
    Arlee Bird recently posted..#IWSG: Would You Rather Hear the Truth or Flattery?My Profile

  8. I love your American Idol commentary! I’m SURE you aren’t one of “those” contestants! I think the fact that you’re doubting it suggests that you really have something…generally those who don’t question are the delusional ones.

    I fear the same thing though. We’ll never know. The only thing I know for sure that it does take is persistence. Without that, we’re screwed. It’s no guarantee it will work, but without it…no chance. The other thing is you have believe in you characters, your story, and yourself. I don’t have any other clear answers. But if you love it, keep at it.
    Katie Checkley recently posted..Love Connection: Writing about romantic relationships in fictionMy Profile

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