Saturday, September 05, 2009

Hey, How About Me?

I learned over the years I can be my own worst enemy. The best example was about fourteen years ago one of the big bosses at my day job asked me if I knew of someone who would want my ex-boss's job? Dummy me, said, "No. I can't think of anyone." What I found out later was he wanted me to say, "Hey, how about me?"

Why he didn't just ask me straight out if I wanted the job, I'm not really sure. Maybe he wanted to see if I had the drive/ambition to move up into management. Whatever the reason, I know part of the reason I didn't say, "Hey, how about me?" was that I didn't have the self-confidence.

One of the good things (there are a few) about growing older is that you realize failing at something isn't the worst thing you can do. Not trying is.

So it's like riding a roller coaster for the first time. You're scared as you stand in line with your friends and family, trying not to show it while waiting for your turn. You watch everyone who gets out of the cars, they're laughing or smiling big even though they look crazy with their hair all topsy-turvy. Then you get your chance. You buckle up and before you know it the car is clinking along. You reach the top of the first hill and you look down the long drop. You inhale with an "Oh, crap!" or something worst and then the wind's in your hair and you're screaming and before you know it, you reach the bottom. Relieved. You're ready for the next hill and drop. They come fast, up and down, twisting and jerking you around but nothing like that first drop. The airtime your butt is off the seat takes your breath away. Yet it's so much fun. Before you know it, it's over and you realize it wasn't as bad as you had thought. If anything, you want to do it again. You're willing to take a chance again.

That's how to build self-confidence. One drop and hill at a time.

I'm going for the Kingda Ka roller coaster (world's tallest and fastest they claim). That's what trying to become published is to me. To try to do something bigger and scarier than anything else. So I continue to work hard on my writing and get my manuscripts out there. Whatever happens will not because I didn't try.


Callie James said...

Well put, Carla. That's truly what it feels like, although I hate roller coasters. Can't stomach 'em.

Pursuing publication is very much the same, and it gets easier over time. At the very least, you know you'll live through it. :)

Christine said...

I loved what you said about the confidence, Carla... it's true. I rode my first BIG coaster at 39... Big Bad Wolf in Busch Gardens. So scared! But we survived And the next time we went, it was easier. Still scary, but easier. So we asked my DH to check out the double loop coaster... he did and convinced us to do it.

We did... still one of my favorites... now I am a Gryphon coaster surviver... talk about scary!

But worth the ride.

It is a roller coaster emotionally. I try to celebrate even the smallest victories... cause the big ones aren't there ... not yet.

Go for it!
You can get there...

Carla Swafford said...

Thanks, Callie and Christine.

Jeanie said...

Oh, man, I am SO challenged when it comes to self-confidence in my writing! Every little thing can shake me. I look all calm and cool and collected on the outside, but on the inside I'm a big bowl of jelly. But, with the help of my friends and writer peeps I'm getting better. It's nice to know I'm not the only one.

Houston A.W. Knight said...


I enjoyed your article...and how true it is. I agree, to make it in this business of publishing you need to be strong, and willing to self promote and you have to stay positive even when you get negative feedback.

Good luck and stay strong -believe in yourself and you'll go a very long way...not just in publishing but in life!


Cari Hislop said...

When I look up the hill I think about all the great books that fell on countless editors' desks before one of them had the intelligence to read it and/or see it was good. (Jane Eyre!) (JK Rowland!) All those editors must have nightmares about passing that first Harry Potter book up, but almost the entire collective publishing industry couldn't see the potential of that book...who's laughing now?

When I get a personal knock, when someone tells me they don't like my work I remind myself that everyone has different taste. Different people need different kinds of stories. Just because some people don't like my stories doesn't mean they have bad taste or I can't just means they need a different kind of story and that's OK. It takes a few hours of chanting this, but I usually get back on even keel without needing to eat a whole cake...usually...

JoAnn said...

Never, ever give up.

Diane Richmond said...

You are one of the hardest working writers I know. It takes a lot of courage to expose your creation to others. I agree with JoAnn, never give up.