Fighting my writing demons, and winning (at least for now)

I recently had a number of writing successes. But they didn’t come easily. I struggled the whole time, and not just over the writing, either. I struggled with my fears and insecurities. I came face-to-face with my writing demons

You know what I’m talking about: Those voices inside your head that taunt you’re not good enough or talented enough or smart enough or worthy enough …. vvvv

I can’t always silence these demons. They are too clever, too sly. The only option I have is to plow forward and submit regardless, and I do so with shaking hands, sweating forehead, my whole body tense as I wait for the printer to spit out my copy or my computer to zap an email into the bowels of cyber space.

Once my poem or essay or story pitch has been sent, I feel flooded with shame. Always I hear that voice from childhood: Kids on the playground, teachers in elementary school, friends’ mothers pointing their fingers at me: “Who do you think you are?”

Who do I think I am?

Umm, a writer, that’s who. So I submit. I submit with fear and anguish and a gutsy determination that causes my stomach to twist and my mind to spin scenarios: The editors will hang my poem from the wall and sling pizza at it; different editors will stuff my essay into a wastebasket loaded with stinky old fast food wrappers (why do these dreary fantasies always include food?).

This week, some of my fear and anguish paid off. I have a poem coming out in an anthology from Two Cups Press.

My award-winning essay titled “Running” has been chosen to be part of “The Best American Sports Writing” anthology.

I queried the local newspaper about the BASW release and a reporter from Alaska Dispatch interviewed me last week; the story, written by Suzanna Caldwell, hit the paper yesterday. “Running is more than way of life for Alaska writer with essay featured in anthology.”

And, something that really excited me: Carol Tice, of the very well-known, very established and very big “Make a Living Writing” site, wrote a blog post on my successful query pitch titled, “Anatomy of a Successful Guest Post Pitch — Idea to Assignment.”

I had to step way outside my comfort zone when pitching the query to Carol Tice. I’ve been freelancing for over a year and am still familiarizing myself with the ins and outs. It’s different from journalism. I have to market myself, and my writing, and my ideas, and my attitude. It’s scary, and exhilarating. And unlike my usual writing, which is insular and emotive, I have to put myself Out There. Terrifying stuff for an introvert.

So this week I’m feeling good, at least about my writing. I know it won’t last. I know that soon I’ll be hit with a rejection, and then another, and yet another. I know this because writing is as much about rejection as if is about acceptance.

If you’ve had any recent successes or failures, feel free to share in the comments. I’d love to hear about them.

3 thoughts on “Fighting my writing demons, and winning (at least for now)

  1. Hi Cinthia, I found you by way of Carol Tice today – loved your guest post! I’m also a writer and runner and fight those demons you speak about – last week was the agony of an 18-miler. This week my long run is a 20. My mental game is already prepping. I love the parallels you bring to both writing and running as I see them everywhere when I’m out there on the long and winding road. Best of luck to you – and keep writing (and running!) Brrr…in Alaska.


    1. That’s it, Amy, I’m going to have to stalk you on the Internet until you promise to be my bosom buddy (like Anne Shirley and Diana, hee, hee). How cool to connect up with another writer and long-distance runner. Good luck on your 20-miler. I’m off to find you on Facebook, Twitter and everywhere else. Cheers and take care.


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