There are times when the task is so momentous that I consider giving up. It’s always when my progress frustrates me and my learning curve seems to have hit a plateau. When I feel like I’m failing to learn the same lesson over and over again and unfortunately, when I see good friends succeeding and sky-rocketing even though they deserve too.

It’s a slump I go through from time to time. Sometimes, it will last for a week and other times it will last for months. I get nervous and wonder, “How can I back out of this writing gig without looking like a fool? Without hearing people say, ‘I told you that you so’?” I’m telling you, it’s not a lot of fun to have the confidence level of a slug.

It’s something you don’t hear a lot of writers talk about. Sure, you hear their struggle to get published and to have people believe in them but mostly, they seem so confident in their own work. Where are all the stories of writers in their second or third edit thinking, “Am I wasting my life right now? Should I get a real career? If I was any good, wouldn’t this come naturally?”

I never seem to give up though. I’m competitive and stubborn (which is probably half of the problem). That’s why this is one of my favourite Osho Zen tarot cards:

Here’s a snippet about this card:
“Let’s face it, there is always going to be somebody who is more beautiful, more talented, stronger, more intelligent, or apparently happier than you are. And conversely, there will always be those who are less than you in all these ways. The way to find out who you are is not by comparing yourself to others, but by looking to see whether you are fulfilling your own potential in the best way you know how.”

It always calms me down and if you’re in a slump, I hope it help you as well.

(Yes, yes. I love my Osho Zen. I used to be one of those tie-dyed/cheesecloth wearing acting students that talked about the universe a lot. Bite me.)


3 thoughts on “COMPARISON

  1. Hey, I for one can relate. In fact it pretty much sums up exactly where I am today. I don't think I'm quite ready to back out, with dignity or otherwise, but I'm definitely going through a "Why am I doing this again?" phase and a loss of confidence. Fwiw, I suspect that, while writers have varying degrees of self-confidence, all of them have their ups and downs. They just talk about them differently (or not at all). I love zen too. Those cards sound cool.

  2. I can relate to this too. I drove to Mt Coot-tha to cry in private after my first manuscript appraisal. It was weeks before I could even look at it without feeling sick. Then I got angry, at the anonymous appraiser, at the time I'd wasted writing the damn thing, at myself for not knowing enough to do it better. Then my natural pig-headedness kicked in; I'd show 'them'. I rewrote every word of that manuscript and yes, I got it published. That validation gave me confidence, but it doesn't stop the fears and insecurities from creeping back in. I don't write too often about the crises in confidence because I don't want to give them a voice. Words have power…but you know that, don't you, Kathleen?

  3. Confidence level of a slug! I can so relate to that.Like Chris, I'm certain most writers go through this, but maintain a level of 'keeping up appearances' in public, or maybe feel like they must be the only ones and would be admitting to a folly by mentioning it. I'm not sure, but I can certainly relate.To this day I am always amazed at those who can get a rejection and question the person's judgement. I'm unfortunately one who always looks at myself – who immediately thinks it's because the story and the writing isn't good enough, and that it should be relegated to a bottom drawer. I'm slowly feeling a little more confident, but still have frequent crash days.Katherine

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