The worst thing that could happen to writer is not a bad review, poor sales, or a rejection letter, but to lose his confidence. Without his confidence, he cannot actually write. Instead, he will chase his own confidence across the page in words and sentences, but he will not catch it. It cannot be caught. To think that it can be caught is to lose sight of it again.
I sometimes coach individual writers. Always the first thing these writers want me to do is read their work. They will say this is a practical thing to do, that I might fix their sentences as a tennis coach fixes his student’s swing. But this is usually not what they want. They are hoping my reading their work will give them confidence. Unfortunately, having someone read your work is the last thing that will bring you confidence.
From time to time someone will read something I have written and they will let me know how much they liked it. This is lovely, of course, but then a time will come when I am not feeling my confidence, and I might make the mistake of turning in my memory to those kind words. In that moment I have only traveled further from what I seek. And if my work has been criticized, and if I am not feeling my confidence, I might use that criticism like a whip to punish me back to where I belong.
Where I belong is a place where even the memory of whips does not exist. Here, praise has no meaning either. Within my confidence there is only the gem of love, a thing of value that offers itself for the price of my attention. Nothing else exists there. To see anything else is to fabricate what will only crumble under the weight of time and be called worthless, as all the gifts we give one another must some day. Our confidence was never anyone’s to give; it was only ours to be remembered.
Write Within Yourself: An Author’s Companion.
“A book to keep nearby whenever your writer’s spirit needs feeding.” Deb Caletti.