The Salmon of My Doubt

I’ve been thinking so much about writing lately, which is not at all the same as saying, I’ve been writing so much lately, but there you have it.

I’ve been thinking so much about writing lately.

This is in some part due to the fact that on Saturday I begin this program with this writer as my mentor, and I am half a million parts excited and half a million parts mortified because my writing will be read, critiqued, judged, assessed.

And the truth is, it’s just not good enough. At least, not as it is right now, but that’s what they’ll be reading.

And this blog post is not about an opportunity for you to blow smoke up my ass, it’s really not. It’s about the fact that I am scared shitless.

I just finished reading On Writing by Stephen King, and I feel like he is quite a smart guy and there is no argument that he is quite an accomplished writer. And even if his style is not your style, there is no denying that he is a damn good storyteller.

Have you read On Writing? It’s good, it is. It’s good for Stephen King fans but it’s especially good for writers, because a guy that started off as an English teacher and then went on to sell a few gazillion books knows a thing or two about writing. But I did myself a great disservice by reading that book right now, when I am about to put myself totally out there with people that could potentially buoy or blow my ego right out of the writing biz.

He’s got some good rules, and I seem to break every single one in my own writing.

So now, instead of feeling 100% excited about attending a very prestigious writing program that I am SO LUCKY to be able to be a part of, I am scared shitless.

I will be called an amateur because I’m sure I tell and not show.

I will be considered a hack because I use passive verbs.

I will be dismissed because I throw adverbs around carelessly.

I will be laughed at because I have 12 years of professional experience, but it was accrued mainly writing prosaic liner notes for (albeit, best-selling) CDs with titles like, Garden in Provence, Natural Stress Relief and Celtic Grooves. 

I worry that my writing is not at all deliberate. I worry that it is too deliberate. I worry that my vocabulary is simplistic and my voice, dull. I worry that I don’t have an original bone in my body. I worry that I am not anything that I thought I was.  

I should be only excited. Hell, I should be packing.

Instead I am sitting here, scared shitless. 



  1. Things are unfolding exactly as they should. You are not taking this mentorship project because you feel you know everything. You're taking it because you want to learn from someone who knows better than you do. You should be scared. That's normal. You're putting yourself on the line. And, good for you! Stay scared. I promise that in a while you'll also be excited. When you stop being scared, it will be time to leave the program.
    I wish you good luck and juicy success:)


    And you will.

    I've read On Writing twice, and plan to again this summer. It's a fantastic tool.


  3. Pshaw. You're a serious talent, end of story.

  4. If it was easy, everybody would be doing it. It's art-making, it's putting yourself out there. Exposing yourself. I am sure that there'll be cringeworthy moments. Times when you feel like quitting. Times where you feel like a huge failure, a hack, a pretender. Times where you'll cry your eyes out.

    But you'll stick with it. And learn and stumble. That Ira Glass gap between your vision of what you want your writing to be and what it is NOW is wider than you'd like. But there are no short cuts. This workshop will get you closer. Chipping away at those 10,000 hours of Malcolm Gladwell mastery.

    If you weren't scared you'd be a fool.

    And when you ever, if you ever feel like quitting, I'll be kicking your butt because I want to read your novel.

  5. There's a difference between writing for work and writing *your* work. I've read some wonderful stuff here on this blog, so I know you have it in you, you just have to find your spark, the something that sets off a story in your head, the story that you need to tell, and it will come together. I hope this course, this time for you to concentrate on this, will be just what you need to find the focus and get started. Good luck! I can't wait to read more...

  6. I'm so excited for you, Karen. This is such a kick-ass opportunity. And OF COURSE you feel insecure right now. It would be weird if you didn't.

  7. I've come to realize that the best opportunities in life are the ones that we're scared shitless of. Except going to the dentist, that is.

  8. I think you're showing incredible courage by doing this. And remember, their job isn't to beat writing out of you.

    I've never been bold enough to take this step, so I can't wait to hear how this goes for you.

    Break a leg.

  9. Same. Same. Same. We'll do this together. What a full circle this is. I met you when I became an adult and you changed from a child. And now, we are taking this incredible leap together. Ok ready, HOLD HANDS. And... JUMP!

  10. This is amazing -- to put yourself out there, really try to push and grow your writing. I've never done it myself. Right now, I'd tell you I'd love to ... but I know I'd be scared silly too. It will be great. It will all be worth it, I'm sure.

    p.s. Yes, I love that King book. It's the only book of his I've read actually because I don't like horror books or films. Great book!


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