Wednesday, May 27, 2015

The Confidence Game

by Holly West

I'm up against a deadline for a story I'm really excited about. Quite unexpectedly, I came up with a concept that has some real potential--maybe even something I can expand into a novel or series in the future. But developing the story has been a real challenge for me so instead of being cool and confident about turning it in on time, I'm a little bit freaked out.

No worries, I have a week left and a fairly clear schedule. I can do it.

Which leads me (sort of) to the topic of this week's post: Confidence.

One of my author friends, James Scarantino, posted a link to Dennis Lehane's 10 Rules for Making it as a Writer and one of the rules resonated with me.

There's nothing wrong with a titanic ego
People I've met who have big egos about the work are he people I want to work with. They know why they're in the room. They're not insecure, they're not going home filled with self-loathing and making that everyone else's problem. The people with the worst egos are people that suck at their jobs.
Perhaps because my own ego is not so large, I've always considered those people who I perceived to have big egos as being a bit dickish. Sometimes, a lot dickish. But clearly, it doesn't have to be that way. There is a difference between, as Lehane says, "knowing why you're in the room," and being a jerk. And just because I might be intimidated by someone with more self-confidence than I have doesn't mean that person is a dick.

Let me just point out that knowing I'm insecure doesn't mean I think I suck at my job. The one thing I rarely question is whether I can write well, because I know I can and I do. Does that make me a dick? Nope. And if you feel the same way about your own work, whatever it might be, it doesn't make you one either.

I guess I just needed someone with a whole lot more experience than I have--Mr. Lehane--remind me of that.


Scott D. Parker said...

You know, Holly, I'm with you re: ego + confidence. A couple of weeks ago, after I finished making all my editor's changes on The Phantom Automobiles, I was grinning. I had just entertained myself. And I know that if I can do that, others will follow. That's where I get my confidence.

But it's still weird when folks talk to me about reading my stuff. They think it's like magic. I still just view it as a job, a job I still have to do on the side since I've got a day job to go to, but still just a job. I'll admit that when I submitted a story for an upcoming anthology, I wasn't sure I had hit the genre mark, but I was assured by the editor I had. That was a nice confidence boost. I guess we writers also have to trust ourselves sometimes, huh? Just don't get 'dickish'. (I like that word)

Steve Weddle said...

Being a talented writer of beautiful sentences and glorious stories and being a completely vile asshole are not mutually exclusive. This often surprises and saddens me.

Kristopher said...

Yes, through my encounters via the blog, I am learning that being talented does not equal being a "good person." The people I like the most are those that are just really good at what they do, but are not dicks about displaying that at every opportunity.

I really do think that everyone feels insecure at times - I know I do - and it is how one reacts to that feeling that determines the type of person they are: Look inward and continue to better yourself (thumbs up); lash out and try to tear others down (thumbs down).

Holly West said...

Well, I was actually saying in this post that I though maybe I should ease up on the big ego = dickish thing. Maybe not! But what Kristopher says is right: we're all insecure and it's how we react to that defines us. You can be self confident and not be a jerk, and you can be insecure and be a huge jerk.