(This week Tara Looft is my guest blogger. She is an unpublished author. Starting at age fourteen she began handwriting a novel. She didn’t let anyone read it for nine years. I offered to let her post an excerpt from it or one from the novel she is currently working on. Instead she chose to write about the insecurity and lack of self-confidence she felt when faced with letting other people read her work. Those of you who write will see a lot of you in her anxiety. I know I had it, until I had been rejected by the first four or five dozen agents and publishers. I’m sure she would appreciate a comment.)
I am a writer, or at least I’d like to be. I’ve always found it relatively easy; after all, it’s not that hard. All you need is a pen paper and an imagination. All of which I have. What I do not have is confidence.
I started writing when I was very young. First it was journaling, then songs, a few poems that blossomed into short stories and at the age of fourteen it all turned into the makings of a full-fledged book.
The process took several years. Between school, work, raising my little brother and just plain having the attention span of a goldfish with full blown ADD, I just couldn’t find the time and almost gave up.
I am now twenty-three and have the book done and a second one started. A select few have read my rough draft of the first book.
When I gave it to the first reader, I felt pretty good about it…for five seconds. I told her she couldn’t read it in front of me and struggled internally with the need to take it back and say, “Just kidding.”
Turns out she liked it. While she was reading it, and for awhile afterwards, I’d hound her with questions wanting to know everything. It was during one of these merciless questionings that Joel said he would like to read it. I was super excited to have an author read it, but I also felt like throwing up. I held Joel slightly higher than the others because he had accomplished what I wanted to do: have a book published.
My book went through a few more co-workers, my dad who called me right after he finished it and pelted me with questions as to what happens next and when I would finish the second book. I guess relentless questioning runs in the family. My grandma made me nervous because she reads almost anything from just about anyone. That’s a lot to be compared to. She also liked it and can’t wait for the second one. She also told me I’d make and excellent writer. A huge compliment from her!
All these good comments and positive feedback made me feel pretty good. Now though, now it was time. With much procrastinating and even more pushing from a co-worker, I handed my book over to Joel. I completely panicked for days! I have never had butterflies so bad in my life. I came to work every shift and expected to see it sitting there with some form of negative feedback. As I said I lack confidence in my writing. When I did get it back, it had a self-editing book sitting with it.
I took this as a good sign and couldn‘t wait to talk to him in person to see what he thought. The negative part of my brain disagreed, and I ended up avoiding him a few of the rare times I saw him.
Finally he caught me. We were outside in the snow and he told me he liked it! So there I stood with a big dumb smile on my face as we talked about writing styles and how we differ in going about writing our books.
I still struggle with the whole confidence thing–even though the last person who read it did it in front of me, and I was fine.
Joel asked me to write something for his blog and I agreed. It’s not the excerpt from my book he suggested, but I hope it at least made someone smile.