I have been talking and talking about the release of my first fictional novel, “PrinceFall”.  Maybe not here on my site, but with friends, those who pre-read the book and fellow writers/readers.  Honestly, I pushed back the official release for later this summer for two reasons.  One, I wanted more input from my inner circle about edits.  Second, I wanted to put to use some really fantastic advice from fellow writers.

I was given the book Ink from R.S. Guthrie himself and it has been a great resource for me.  In the past, I’ve read Stephen King’s On Writing.  One of the most invaluable resources, however, has been networking with independent authors on Goodreads!  Their experiences have shown me the pitfalls, the major accomplishments and the trials that writers of books face.

As a journalist, it is a different process to switch pens, so to speak, and write fiction.  I have been writing fiction and non-fiction for years, but never prepared any project as big as my own novel.  And then to actually have enough to say to make it a series is an even bigger step for me.  It has been challenging, exciting, frustrating and has challenged my self-confidence more than once.

It has reminded me of my early days in a studio art class in high school.  My instructor was quirky, but taught me a ton about allowing my creativity to flow.  I had success with my artwork, even selling a couple pieces.  If you’ve read my bio here on my site, you know that once I got to college and saw that the art program was full, I changed my course of study.  I never stopped drawing and painting.  I kept up my skills in creating digital art.  My biggest handicap was that I never felt like my work was “good enough” to share.  It led to a deep-seated fear of sharing my art.

In journalism, you are open to a lot of scrutiny.  A lot!  As a sports journalist, it is difficult to put out news or opinion pieces based on press releases, credentials and an inside knowledge only to see someone who doesn’t have those qualifications tear apart every word you’ve written.  Criticism has pushed me to be a better journalist, however.  And while some comments and feedback still leave me questioning, I have learned that without the risk, the reward would be worthless.  For me, the reward is the one-in-a-million reader who sees my integrity and the quality of my work and leaves me positive feedback.  It is also about being secure in the fact that you have presented information that is not only true, but based on facts.

Writing a novel is a different process.  I have questioned myself multiple times about putting my story out there in the public.  Art, in all its forms, is a piece of the artist who creates it.  Releasing my book feels like I am taking a piece of myself and tossing it out there with the understanding that I may never see it groomed by the love of others.  That piece of me may just atrophy and wither away.  It may hurt.  In fact, it may very well hurt a lot.

This book has unleashed characters who scream to me in my head telling me to release them into the world.  That isn’t to say I am completely crazy, but those voices get very loud.  They demand to be heard and addressed.  And because they are so strong, they keep pushing me forward despite any confidence issues I may be experiencing.

The real reward from writing or art or creating things is that it satisfies yourself.  I hear the perfectionists out there saying, ‘yeah, but that isn’t strong enough to reverse the constant nagging that it isn’t perfect’.  To those who struggle with that I say, set it free.  It’s easier said than done.  I know (very well, in fact).  So, as I put out more and more creative works I hope that I can use the advice, instruction and guidance that others have given me to boost my confidence and move me forward, setting it free.

I have a personal motto: “Just keep moving”.

I really believe in it, too.  If you remain still, you just get bogged down in a rut that seems to get deeper by the second.  You may not have dug that crevasse that you find yourself in, but it keeps growing.  I have a neighbor, a funny but wise older man, who every time he sees a Turkey Vulture floating on the air currents overhead says, “You’d better keep moving.”  It’s a funny statement, yes?  Well, a vulture, as you know, loves to dine on carrion and basically things that no longer have life in them.  Every time he says it, I instantly look up and laugh out loud.  I would hate to be attacked by a Turkey Vulture.  They have a massive wingspan and I am not sure I would escape without a few peck marks.  How does that relate to my motto? Well, I firmly believe that if you don’t keep moving, your life stalls.  I have experienced that personally.  It’s why I wanted to get t-shirts made and become a billionaire off of the proceeds from the sales.  Instead, I try to remember those three words when I am battling self-confidence issues in my work.

So, in the next week or so I will be revealing something new that is related to my book.  If you haven’t signed up to follow my blog, please do so you get a notice right away.  I promise, you won’t be spammed – you’ll just see my blog posts and announcements as soon as I hit the “publish” button.

My last words – “Just keep moving”

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4 thoughts on “Battling self-confidence in my work

  1. Great post, and I see we do have a lot in common. I write educational content, public relations stories, communications strategy, and…my novel, Roseheart. It’s hard to switch pens, but I know in some ways each type of writing has helped the other. The biggest benefit from professional communications work to my fiction is how I’ve learned to distill. I still keep in more flourishes in the fiction, but I’m also no longer afraid to kill excessive prose. But you…you are a sports writer on top of it all. That seems really hard. How do your various types of writing improve one another?

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    1. Catherine,
      That is a really great question. I too have covered different topics as a freelance journalist. I covered politics in Iowa, but found that I was so disgusted by the political system that it was difficult to be objective. Sports journalism seemed a better fit for me with my college background – albeit that my major was in Exercise Physiology with Sports Psychology. You’d be surprised how that course work actually helped me in covering the National Football League. As a student athlete, I related to the challenges that college football players face — and that carries over more often that most people realize into the professional world — for the players and for me.

      While covering sports often includes very technical aspects (statistics, fact-checking, writing in AP format, etc.), the area of sports journalism that really translates well into writing other genres is the story within the story. Player profiles are one of my favorite things to do. Interviews with players gave me an inside look at the person beneath the pads and jersey.

      One of the best experiences was covering the Iowa Barnstormers (formerly in the Arena Football League and now in the Indoor Football League). Being a central-Iowa native, it was fun to be able to go to the games and actually be on the field with the players. Granted, I was on the sidelines during the games, but I was able to build relationships with the players that were both professional and personal. One thing I enjoyed doing was taking photographs. I would reach out to the players and offer them copies of the ones taken of them for their personal use. I was able to get very close to the mothers of two of the players and after giving them photos of their sons, we have communicated via social media for several years. Although I have transitioned to full-time coverage of the NFL, it was that time with a local team (they are still professionals) that gave me insight into the personal characters of the players.

      When writing fiction, character development is one of the most important aspects to a story. If readers cannot relate to a character, it is pretty difficult to keep them engaged in the story. You can have a fantastic plot, but if your characters are flat or unrealistic, readers tend to just skip through the story and walk away feeling ‘let down’.

      Professional football players may appear to be a strange template for a character in fiction, but really each player is as unique as an individual as fictional characters can be. Their lives on and off the field reveal some exceptional things. Some players are seen as “villains” on the field for their type of play only to be the most gentle, kindhearted people off of the field. When you get into the personal lives of the men playing the game, you find out that they are not the gladiators that everyone assumes 100 percent of the time. They have families, dreams, aspirations and experiences that aren’t unsimilar from the fan sitting on the sideline.

      I hope that answers your question. Thanks for asking!

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  2. I can relate! When I published my first novel in 2012, the stage fright didn’t set in until a month before it was released I started having dreams about my good friends stammering to find praise after they had read my book. I had to ask people to review it on goodreads and amazon, and then could barely stand to read the reviews. I got a snarky review on amazon that made me nauseous until I decided I really didn’t have to care what she or anyone else thought. I was never writing for anyone else anyway. Listen to those characters and let them out!

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    1. Kristin,
      One of the things about these characters in my head is that the story actually began as a dream. I have a sleep issue (I won’t call it a disorder) similar to lucid dreaming. Normally, your body is paralyzed during a certain level of sleep. At times, my dreams are so real that I talk out loud, my arms and legs move in relation to things going on in those dreams and are so visually and auditory stimulating that if there were a way to record them, someone like J. J. Abrams or Jerry Bruckheimer would probably pay me to give them material. LOL

      When I had the dream that led to “PrinceFall”, I woke up and started writing in a spiral notebook. Granted, the original story has been edited, characters developed and the bizarre stuff that made absolutely no sense (typical dream stuff that flips between the possible and impossible) adjusted. I literally wrote the entire story in under a week.

      So, why has it taken me so long to get it just right to put out in the public? Back to those self-doubts. I didn’t want the story to read like a dream by someone with a sleep disorder. LOL The characters, however, continue to fill my dreams strangely. And you’re correct – they need to be released from my gray matter so that I can get some new ones in there.

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