IWSG: In Which My Ego Turns Everything into a Blistering Inferno


The first Wednesday of every month is Insecure Writers Support Group. A fabulous blog-hop. Head to the list and support some other writers today. 

I’m halfway through my big picture edit/rewrite of this manuscript and I’m ready to set it THE FUCK ON FIRE.

No but seriously. Burn it.

I thought I had my subplots tightened up. I thought I had my hero and heroine figured out. I’ve written the story essentially three times now. But here I am, ready to scream and break things as this manuscript refuses to be… GOOD.

Okay I have a couple of issues at play here. One is that I have been using scenes I’ve already written sort of piecemeal. “Oh, this scene will work right here!” So I move it. And now, I’m halfway through this rewrite/revamp/hell and I have completely lost the thread of tension and narrative. I don’t know if it’s moving too fast or too slow. No idea if it even makes sense any more. Argh! The second, larger issue, is my ego.

My friend Lyssa Kay Adams just indie published her first novel and it’s effin’ good, ya’ll. So effin’ good. Funny and snarky and well-written and the reviews are pouring in and they are all saying what I’m saying. The book is freaking GREAT. I’m super happy for her. She’s rad and she deserves the applause.

What if I don’t get that? What if my first book comes out to the sound of crickets chirping? What if none of our mutual friends say a word? I didn’t become a writer for applause, I really didn’t (and if you did, you’re in for some pain, I fear) but I also don’t want to be the suckiest writer out of my group of writer friends. This worry comes from a place of deep insecurity within me, I know. Many of my writer friends are professional writers. They were journalists or work in publishing or advertising. They know a side of the business that I don’t and they are way more educated than I am.

Often when I’m forced to defend my genre from people who want to make me feel small about it, I say that many romance writers are highly educated and that a great deal of my favorites went to ivy league schools and teach writing. Which is all true and it’s a great brag, but I’m not one of those people. I dropped out of community college because it was putting me into debt and it wasn’t actually helping. I consider myself a fairly smart human being and I stand by that decision. Community college wasn’t preparing me for a writing career and it wasn’t worth the stress or money. But I never expected to be surrounded by so many educated, brilliant writers. I figured my smarts would carry me through. But I’m still never sure when I should be using a semi-colon and I still have to Google how to punctuate parentheticals in parenthesis and I feel like at any moment, I could screw something up and no one will ever take me seriously and I’ll deserve it because I couldn’t even hack community college and who do I think I am trying to write novels?

Worse yet, am I going to be the kind of unskilled writer used as kindling on the blaze of derision that eternally burns the romance community like wildfire? Is that labored simile my fate?

This has been bumping around in my head, bruising my brain for a month now. I am burning with insecurity and it’s making my editing clunky and impossible. I am losing perspective faster than Supernatural episodes lose narrative cohesion, which is to say, FAST.

Wow, angels are so touchy. 


This Post Has 8 Comments

  1. Samantha Dunaway Bryant

    I hear you on the ego thing. It's great when your writer-friends start having success, but it also raises the pressure on the other members of the group. It's a demon I've had to face down, too.

    On the other front, maybe you're ready for some fresh eyes? A beta reader who hasn't seen the work in any of its other iterations? When you rearrange scenes (or at least when I do), you end up with continuity bumps and a fresh pair of eyes is good for catching those.

    Best of luck!

    @mirymom1 from
    Balancing Act

  2. Sandra

    Don't worry about semi-colons and parentheses. Pay an editor to make sure those things are right. Or if you want to improve your ability to use proper punctuation (and capitalization and italics), invest in a copy of the 16th edition of the Chicago Manual of Style. I started out with a free 30-day trial version of the on-line option (http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/home.html) but decided to bite the bullet and bought a used copy so I would only have to pay once, not monthly.

    And remember that every author, even the greats, at one point or another thought their work was crap. You are in good company.

  3. Rochelle

    I have SO been there–both wanting to rip my MSs to shreds and feeling like i don't deserve the success my writing friends have had… it's absolutely part of the job. It sucks. But I think there's a point when we just have to say, "screw it" and write anyway…

  4. Beth Camp

    Love that you can just put these doubts on paper . . . with humor and humility and that sense of tenacity and belief in yourself still shining through. This post was fun to read and sobering at the same time, for these are the challenges we all face. I too remember when those semicolons and commas blended together. That kind of copy editing truly someone else can do. Tell your stories, and if you need a semicolon guide (semicolons separate complete sentences [sentence; sentence] or complex series [I lived in San Miguel, Mexico; Paris, France; and San Francisco, California.). But trust me, the story is waaay more important. I'm holding my breath now for Monday Positivity!

  5. Roland D. Yeomans

    An editor who looks at your manuscript with an objective eye can make all the difference in the world. Your novel will never be quite ready in your mind. If only one reader loves your book, then your efforts will have been worth it. Hang in there.

  6. Pat Garcia

    It is a good thing that a good writer is not based on how many degrees you have or how much you know. The story, the plot and how you engage your reader when telling your story is what counts. So try not to let other people's qualifications and their successes stop you from doing what you know you have to do.

    In 2013, I thought I was finished with my first manuscript until a professional writing coach tore it to pieces. I cried like a baby but then got up and asked this same writing coach if she had any openings. You see, even though she tore my story to pieces, she said I had and engaging storytelling method that sucked people into my story. So that's why I chose her. So, don't give up. Don't BURN your manuscript. Find out how you need to fix it and then do it.

    Shalom aleichem,
    Pat Garcia


  7. Stephanie Faris

    I started out writing romance and I know what you mean. I still defend the genre. It might help to point out that the industry is one of the few highly successful ones that is almost 100 percent for women, by women, and historically that's why it has gotten a great deal of flak. There are many women making a good living writing romance and even some making six figures…for writing stories they enjoy writing. How can that ever be bad?

  8. Shannon Lawrence

    I think romance and horror writers get the most flack, though for different reasons. I was surprised to discover people think horror writers lack empathy and must be twisted and broken, and that we're the dregs of speculative fiction. I've had a lot of hurt about that since I started hearing it (no one has said it to me personally), and I'm still working at moving past it. As with horror, I don't understand why romance writers are insulted. It's funny that once you get involved in something, you find there are hidden factions. Writers split along various lines (trad vs indie, genre vs genre). Having a degree doesn't dictate whether you are intelligent or qualified for anything. I have an Associate's, but I stopped there due to financial reasons, and the realization that a degree that I would sink money into would not get me any closer to my career goals. I love school. I still buy used college textbooks to learn on my own. But, like you, I stopped before having the almighty Bachelor's. It doesn't mean we're idiots, and it surely doesn't mean we can't write.

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