Don’t ask me how I got started on this rabbit trail, but last night I found myself reading posts on Stop The GR Bullies; that’s a website dedicated to bullying people who bullied them first, it would seem. Anyway, while skimming the posts on there I saw a couple of self-published authors make a derisive comment about a stranger.
I know none of these folks, but the derision hit home for me in a very real, painful way.
“Is she one of those people who is always writing a book that nobody has ever seen?” (I’m paraphrasing and cleaning it up a lot. There were more colourful adjectives stuck in the original.)
I am one of those people. I’m always writing books, but nobody ever sees them. Okay, my husband has. My sister has. Ivy Hogan has. People who read this blog have on the very rarest of occasions seen a sentence or a paragraph–which inevitably gets chopped. Carole McDonnell saw the first draft of pages from a book that is now binned. But other than that…yeah. Nobody has seen my books.
Why? Do they suck? I don’t think so. But I think I suck. And I think that I don’t deserve to have my work encroach upon other people’s time.
No, nasty people on Stop The GR Bullies, it’s not because I’m afraid of criticism; I live in criticism. The toughest critics that ever walked the earth are inside my own head, thank you. Nothing you say to me, ladled liberally with the bitter invective you polish off for your worst enemies, is going to be harsher than what I say to myself.
I recently learned a very stunning, startling, deep truth about myself. Knowing this truth, the roots of this self-flagellation, is freeing in a way because it allows me to step back and say “the perfect is the enemy of the good and the tyranny of your inner voice is the devil as taskmaster.” It’s helping me realise that I will never ever be good enough so I may as well carry on with being as good as I can be at the moment.
I don’t know how much longer I’ll be One Of Those People. I don’t know if I’ll finish a book and shop it or polish it up and self-publish it. I just don’t know. I hope to not be One Of Those People forever. But I have to admit that even though I firmly believe all that I just said about perfectionism and self-doubt I also don’t want to be One Of Those People who puts out substandard garbage, slopping over the puke from my brain into the slush pile of self-published books. Not all self-published and small press books are bad. Only a fraction of them are bad. But those that are bad seem to be written by people who don’t care how bad they are, who just want to say they have a Published Book and to lord that fact over those of us Other Ones Of Those People.
So I guess now I’m trying to decide who is the bigger bully; my own head or the nasty people who think people like me are a joke.