The first time I ever posted a story online, it was because of an ultimatum. My sister, seeing my desire to share my stories overpowered by fear of rejection, told me that I could either edit one of my stories and post it, or she would post an unedited story. It was harsh, but it was also the best possible thing for my life as a writer. Since I posted my first story, I have become more confident as a writer, and I have learned to be proud of my work, despite the inevitable flaws.
When I was young, people would compliment my writing. Their belief helped me accept my talent, and I gradually began to believe in myself. Despite my slow-growing confidence, posting stories online unearthed another layer of terror when it came to sharing my work. The scrutiny of strangers was overwhelming and frightening as I waited months for any response at all. My confidence dwindled, and my ego deflated. When feedback finally did come, it shocked me. They liked it.
Having strangers like your work is a strange experience. No matter how confident you are, it’s unnerving to have someone who you’ve never met look over your work and judge it. You expect their reactions to be negative, and when they aren’t, it’s almost more shocking because of the doubt that crept in in the meantime. Since I’ve started posting, I’ve received lots of feedback, which, on the whole, has been positive. And having that response, from people who have no interest in my success or failure, encouraged me in believing that I have a talent as a writer. That realization has helped me to believe in myself fully.
An evaluation of my work has also helped me to gain confidence. Early in my career, I would write the first draft of a story, think it was amazing, come back the next day, think it was horrible, and I would abandon it. When I sit down to write a story that I know I will want to post, discarding it like that doesn’t come as readily. If I don’t like the work the next day, I focus on the heart of the story I want to tell. Then I rewrite the story, usually three or four times, but in the end, I produce a work that I am proud to show to people. By believing in my story, I find the courage to push through the hard parts and turn it into something that I can come back to and be glad I wrote.
Authorial integrity is about being proud of your work. Not because it’s perfect, but because the story has a message, form or function that it has achieved and, as a result, there is pride in the success. Looking back on old stories that are no longer up to my standards is fulfilling when I see that the story still achieves its initial intent. While confidence is the drive that inspires an author to try, authorial integrity is the force that ensures a work to be proud of, and it is equally necessary for providing new work because it gives the author something to strive for.
When I first started posting my work online, I had confidence, but not a lot of authorial integrity. Over time, I lost that confidence but developed integrity. Now, with my current project, both are coming into fruition.
In recent posts, I have displayed my uncertainty with my book and my desire to do well. This week has been spent finding my confidence, talking with people close to the project, discussing my ideas and where to take them, thinking about how to make this book better. Looking back on my past experiences with confidence crises and how I overcame them through effort, tenacity, and integrity has been encouraging to say the least. I was reminded how far I’ve come, in all of my writing, and I want to do more. My sister’s actions may have seemed harsh, but they have laid the foundation for the work I am doing now and given me the confidence necessary to succeed.
For all of those who believe in me, thank you endlessly for that belief.
And for my dear sister who pushed me off the plank, thank you for believing in me and giving me a reason to believe in myself. I couldn’t have done it without you.
Project Status: I am working on re-vamping the outline.