Great… no, REALISTIC Expectaions

The topic for the Query Tracker blog chain this time was selected by Kate Quinn.  I am the end of the chain this week, following H.L. Dyer, so I’ve had the benefit or detriment of reading everyone else’s thoughts on the topic.  The benefit is enjoying my writer friends’ thoughts on the topic.  Being last is detrimental in that the topic has pretty much been covered–and quite eloquently, I might add.

The topic is:  

How as a writer do you find the balance between having too much or too little confidence in your work?

Well, I find that balance in writing the same way I do with all things in my life.  I am reality-based and optimistic, which makes coping with rejection and criticism comfortable for me, though not always easy.  Nothing worth doing is easy.

Sounding like a sermon?  Yep.  This is a serious topic Kate has selected.  

Much of my life has been devoted to acting and theatre, both as a performer and a teacher.  The performing arts are about rejection.  Rejection doesn’t come in a slip in the mail in theatre.  Often it comes in a public post or a face-to-face rejection.  One has to have confidence to endure in that environment.   

Because of my background, I am not inclined to take rejection and criticism personally, which helps boost my confidence.  To date, I’ve been able to take criticism and apply it constructively because it doesn’t hurt my feelings.  

As for too much confidence–that is where the reality-based view point comes into play. I do my best to remain optimistic, but writing is a tough business.  The odds of getting published are slim. It would be hard to become over-confident, which is a good thing, because once a writer thinks she is “there,” her growth will slow down.  The learning curve in the publishing industry is huge.  I doubt anyone’s over-confidence would last for long.

Keep it positive and keep it real.  

Our doubts are traitors, and make us lose the good we oft might win, by fearing to attempt. 

~William Shakespeare, Measure for Measure, 1604

The next topic in the blog chain will be selected and begun by Archetype.  Check out the entire chain in the links to the right of this page.



Explore posts in the same categories: QueryTracker Chain, The Writing Process

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11 Comments on “Great… no, REALISTIC Expectaions”

  1. Mary, excellent post! I love the Shakespeare quote and the adorable picture. And I think you are right, confidence and doubt are all part of the ever important learning curve. Writing is a tough business and there is always room to improve your craft.


  2. Michelle Says:

    Great post, Mary! 🙂 I think you are right when you say that it is hard for a writer to be too over-confident…at least for long. And you can definitely tell when a writer has become too confident…when they’ve stopped listening to editors and critiques and feel they are above such things. There are many examples in the publishing world (mostly big name writers that I will not name) and their work suffers for their over-confidence.

    I think your attitude is perfect – reality-based and optimistic….probably the best traits to have if you plan on treading the publishing waters for very long 🙂

  3. H. L. Dyer Says:

    I completely agree! This was a hard chain to be at the end of!

    Love the picture. 🙂

  4. Suzette Saxton Says:

    Wow, powerful post. The Shakespeare quote was the icing on the cake.

  5. After your experience in theater, handling confidence in writing must be a piece of cake for you! And I also love the picture.

  6. ElanaJ Says:

    Wow, Mary, you did a great job at the end of the chain. I love that picture of the cat looking in the mirror. Sometimes I think the mirror can be reversed and we can be lions looking down on ourselves as kittens. Either way, it was wonderful. Great insight. 🙂

  7. Terri Rainer Says:

    How right you are! It is a fine line that we walk. I’ve often thought “This is the best thing ever written” only to have it critiqued (shredded) and realize that it wasn’t even close!

    I think one of the signs of a truly good writer is one that can look at a crit with an unbiased eye and determine what works for them and doesn’t. That is also a fine line that a writer walks.

    Great post!

    🙂 Terri

  8. I love how you often tie your theatre background into how it affects your writing – it is cool to see how connected they are for you.

    And ending it all with a Shakespeare quote? What could be better than that?

  9. Great post! I did one play in high school and flubbed my lines. I was offstage sobbing hysterically but no one noticed lol. I can’t imagine someone giving me feedback face to face like that. I’ll take the rejection LETTER anyday to face-to-face.

  10. mary lindsey Says:

    Yeah, it can get pretty harsh. “Thanks, but not for me,” is a lot easier to take on paper than face to face.

    One time when I was in college, there was a cattle call audition for broadway musical national touring company. The audition specs stated the part was for a woman at least 5′-6″ tall. The actresses were asked to wear black and high heels. You can picture exactly what they were looking for, right? I didn’t even clear 5′-6″ with 4″ heels on. There I stood, all 95 pounds size A bra of me, in line with a hundred leggy voluptuous girls. A woman with a clipboard walked up to me and patted me on the head. “Who are you kidding?” was all she said. I didn’t even make it into the theatre. Ugh. Kinda like sending a novel to an agent who only handles fiction. Only with the agent scenario, you don’t get the condescending pat on the head. 🙂

  11. Carolyn Says:

    Oh, how I wish I could avoid having the rejection seep through the seams of my professionalism and determination, that I was able to never take it personally. I am quite hopeful that over time your attitude will rub off on me to help with that. 🙂

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