Education / Work / writing

A Spring Break of Self-Doubt

I’ve not gone anywhere over the break this week, and I’ve no plans to do so, really, as it’s a week in which I’m steadily querying publishers and agents. In other words, I’m Getting Shit Done. I don’t like the fact that my job, ironically one in which I have to teach writing, keeps me away from writing and attempting to publish. I don’t get that. I ask my students that quite often: how on earth can I possibly be an effective WRITING teacher if I’M not writing, too?

Instead, I spend hours upon hours reading and assessing other people’s writing. By the time I’m finished, I’m too mentally exhausted to even consider writing anything worthwhile at all, let alone querying.

So my spring break, such as it is, is dedicated to the novel. I’ve not been through the whole constant-stream-of-rejections in so long, I’d almost…ALMOST forgotten what it’s like to experience it. I’ve sent out a total of 12 queries (some with synopses, some with the first 10 pages) and one full submission, and I’ve already received three rejections in the span of less than 2 days. I’m sending out another round tonight, based on further market research, so maybe I’ll at least get a much more promising “Send along something else in the future” sort of rejection. When I was writing screenplays, pre-equery days, the waiting would always put me in a sour mood UNLESS I had another project going on. Funny enough, I always seemed to have a few screenplays generating interest while I was in school, concentrating on research. If I wasn’t doing anything though, my queries (or treatments, or full scripts) were rejected. I guess if one’s sidetracked away from thinking about such things, the good vibes/karma/whathaveyou come forth…? I don’t know.

I’ve also been thinking a lot about where my skills, talents, actually lie. I’ve a good friend/colleague who insists I’m a great teacher so much so that he’d led the department in nominating me for a fellowship to a “master teaching” state seminar. His letter was positively glowing; it was so complimentary, detailing my strengths and (minor) school involvement, and I don’t get it much. I don’t consider myself a good teacher at all. I’ve written on this before (it’s the “patience” thing, and I think I’m losing a little of it every day). My students think I’m either “mean” (the highly unfair word du jour students use when evaluating female profs who teach a required class) or just plain nuts. I have quite a bit of difficulty getting them to retain what I’ve presented to them in class. I don’t think that’s effective at all.



At any rate, I’ve been granted the fellowship, and I do hope to learn some necessary skills to Get The Job Done Well, especially in this era of truly disaffected learners. I also hope that at least other faculty from other schools have some sort of makeshift, decent solution to the state problem involving the virtual elimination of requisite developmental education classes.

When it comes to writing, I don’t know where my talents lie either. I WANT to be a good creative writer. I love writing about popular culture, and I’m okay at it, but it’s still analytical writing when done even reasonably well, and I’d rather be creative. I’m suffering from heavy creative envy right now. I’ve friends and acquaintances doing all of these amazing projects, ones I’d love to try out too, but my fear of failure and own sense of self-doubt and lack of self-worth suffocate me. I’m hoping the anthology my friend and I are editing goes well, but I feel as if I don’t know what I’m doing. When it comes to writing, I feel like I’m a total fraud, like I should leave it to the professionals, the ones who Do It Right. I can’t even pitch my work without doubting everything. I seriously blame my upbringing. My parents made us girls feel like we were constant creative failures, until we were adults. Even when there was ample evidence to indicate, perhaps, otherwise, there was always that sense of doubt.

It would help…even a little…if I had some direction, anything at all. At 42, my patience in myself is waning.


5 thoughts on “A Spring Break of Self-Doubt

  1. Teaching and writing are both crapshoots. Together? I always found that to be a rather blissful life most of the time. 🙂 Just don’t give up on writing. Chances are that, at some point, you will give up on teaching. I did it after 33 years which is hardly “quitting.”

    Liked by 1 person

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