Fears and Self-doubting in the Creative World

Hi all!

Short blog post is short, but will be leading into a longer one. If you read this blog, you’re probably a creative person. Or my mom. (hi, Mom!) and if you’re a creative person, you’ve probably felt doubts. Fears. The ever lurking shadows of failure.

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The rejections and bad feedback that makes you feel awful. The people who look at your art and say “I don’t get it.” The review of your band that calls it worse than drunks at karaoke. You know, the non-fun part of being creative.

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But those insidious whispers are WRONG. You are talented. You are amazing. You make good art and you make the world a better place. Everyone is cheering you on, and the world is waiting to meet you. There are so many good things ahead in your creative journey. Keep going. You can do it!

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Here’s the thing. We all get those feels. And I’d like to think, just maybe, if we talk through them, together but anonymously, maybe we can get some things off our minds, and go back to making beautiful art.

To me, Rumple is beautiful art. Disagree, fine.

To me, Rumple is beautiful art. Disagree, fine.

So, on my tumblr, http://writercarrieann.tumblr.com/ask I’ve opened up to anonymous asks. I’ll leave it that way for about a week, and in that time, share your fears, your doubts, your moments of “OMG, I’m a fraud,” your cat’s name, your belief that Rumple/Belle is the best thing ever… okay. Maybe not the last two. But please, share your fears-no matter where you are, published, just starting out, a dancer or a knitter. I bet someone else is feeling the same one. All the fears will be condensed into one post, so you will be totally, totally anonymous.

Unless your fear is that Belle will never forgive Rumple. Then everyone will know that one’s me.

You’re not alone, and in a follow up post, I’ll try and address these fears. We are stronger together, and even stronger when we talk.

A Thank You to the Writing Community

I’ve always been a writer, but aside from classes, I’ve never shared my writing with anyone other than my long-suffering best friend.Then, a little over a year ago, I realized the story I’d been drafting was something I really, really loved, and wanted to share with other people, maybe even see in print someday. It had been years since I’d declared myself “a writer” to anyone, but, it was time.

So, I hit up Google  for writing sites. Absolute Write, Ladies Who Critique, and Maggie Stiefvater’s annual CP love connection. I met amazing critique partners, who encouraged me to keep writing. They saw potential in the messy, plot-less draft I’d created.

As summer turned to fall, my writing picked up steam, and I was selected for the Pitch Wars mentoring contest, and gave me a whole new network of awesome writing friends. Between that, joining SCBWI, spending (too much?) time on twitter, and crashing in on Nanowrimo meetups, I met even more awesome writers. Seriously, if you’ve ever considered doing any of those things, try it out. You never know who you might meet.

Then an amazing thing happened. The more I interacted with the writing community, the stronger my writing grew. Even more valuable than the editing and writing tips is the sense of fellowship, that bolsters  me on rough days, and cheers with me on great days.  I ‘m not alone anymore, writing stories for only me  and my cat.

This is a thank you to all the writers and creative folk I’ve met so far. Loyal critique partners who will brainstorm plot twists and listen to my rambling tangents, incredible beta readers who offer feedback on the manuscript as a whole, and the hundreds of people I’ve interacted with on Twitter and Tumblr.

I’ve even been lucky enough to meet a few of you in real life.

Your kind encouragement helps me through days when writing a novel seems impossible. Your thoughtful feedback sharpens the story from the vague draft it was into something sparkling. The way you fangirl (or fanboy )over my characters re-ignites my own enthusiasm for them. Your sympathetic ear when real life explodes and writing seems impossible makes the struggle to get words on the page easier. Your joy at my success makes it ten times more awesome.

You have no idea how much you matter.

Risk and Reward

So, this is one of those businessy posts, but I’ll be applying it to creative endeavors. I also promise fun Disney metaphors and gifs at the end.

In the business world, you’re taught most choices can boil down to a simple formula. The greater the risk, the greater the reward.

To simplify, you stand a better chance of winning the lottery if you spend the money on a ticket (please note, that’s not financial advice to place the lottery.) But, your risk is that you’re out the cost of the ticket.

Similarly, if you want the reward of feedback on your creative work, your art, your knitting, your sassy cross-stitch, your writing, you have to risk getting it rejected.

And if you want the reward of growing your craft and achieving your dreams, you have to risk a lot of rejection.

A lot.

You can only show your work to your best friend and your grandma, and never hear a word of negative feedback, but you’ll never have a fan you’ve never met gush about your work, or meet someone who challenges you to Art Harder as the awesome Chuck Wendig says in his post here.

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Risk versus Reward applies to everything.
 

Publishing options? Self Publishing is All the Risk. All the Reward. If you succeed, you’ll basically get all the financial reward of the work, But you also take on all the risk. The risk of marketing, the risk of editing and not misspelling the word “public” in the most tragic way…

Traditional publishing is on the other end . You don’t have as much risk. Someone else is editing your work, spell-checking your typing, designing your cover, all so that you don’t have to take on that risk. But you do lose some of that reward, both financially, and in the sense that you can’t point to the cover and say, “Me. I did that!”

Neither of these approaches is wrong. There’s no perfect risk/reward level that everyone should work towards. We’re all different people, and we all have different risk tolerance levels.

Disney metaphor, as promised!

Some people aren’t risky, at all. They  know what they like, and they’re happy with that. They might create art, but they also may never share it with anyone. For them, big rewards, aren’t worth the risk.

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Some people are driven and brave and perhaps just a little bit wild. They’re willing to work hard, create art, and make a market for it. They’re aiming for big rewards, and willing to take on big risks.

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And there’s the people who might need a nudge. They art. They art well.  They dream of big rewards, of Hollywood lights and hardcover books, but they’re so afraid of the risks that they can’t even think about sharing.

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Their fear of the risks has grown larger than the risk itself. If you find yourself in this category, maybe…just maybe, take a leap of faith. Put one toe outside your security bubble. You might like the reward.

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I wish you best of luck (and lots of rewards) in all your risky endeavors.

Why I YA

I’m not a young adult. Shocking. I’m kindasortamaybe a new adult? I suppose? Although that term makes it sound like we hatch adults out of eggs, rather than the stumbling, chaotic, unavoidable slide toward adulthood that actually occurs.

But I love young adult literature.

I love reading it, I love writing it, I love being part of the YA community.

I’ve been reading young adult lit since before I was a teenager, and I’ll probably still be reading it when I’m in a nursing home. I don’t write t for a high school do-over. My high school career, although mixed and full of some truly awkward moments, made me who I am today. I don’t need to redo it.

Look at TEEN ME! I don't need to re-write that smile.

Look at TEEN ME! I don’t need to re-write that smile.

 

I don’t read it because I refuse to grow up. Honestly, I’m pretty good at this wine-sipping, business clothes wearing, grad-school attending adulthood thing. And I l enjoy being an adult! (Mostly. Except doing the dishes. And the taxes)

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ADULTING! Why would I give up fancy drink time?

I love young adult literature because it captures the core of our emotions.

Even as adults, when we’re set off kilter, freed of adulthood type rules, when we’re tipsy or tired, stressed or in love, we act…well, like teenagers.

Our teen years are when we’re a confusing, exciting, contradictory, tragic, ecstatic mess.  We laugh for hours over dumb inside jokes, and we’ll cry for days over a cruel off-handed comment. We’re not afraid of so many things because we don’t know enough to be. The future is open and bright and terrifying.

To me, YA lit captures all of that, those core moments that shape us for the rest of our lives: first kiss, first heartbreak, first hope, first failure. It’s the comet flashing neon-bright against the unchanging night-sky of adulthood.

 

So, tell me, why do you YA?

What I’m Working On

In the last few days, my to-do list and email accounts have been on fire with all sorts of cool things. If there’s one thing you should know about me, it’s that I’m happiest when I’ve got a few different projects going on.

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DYS-PUNK-TIONAL

This has been my baby for over a year now, although it used to be called FATHERS, FENDER GUITARS, & OTHER F-WORDS. It’s my young adult contemporary novel,  and it totally rocks. If you’re curious to learn more about it, click on the link above.

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(art of DYS-PUNK-TIONAL characters by Giles)

PROGRESSION: a feature-length narrative film, set in Lawrenceville, the hispter-est neighborhood in Pittsburgh.

From the Website: Dubbed “a gentrification farce,” this film features arty young professionals colliding with the fourth-generation locals who watch bemusedly as their neighborhood transforms under their noses.  This film features three soups, two salads, and culminates in a raucous single entree where secrets are revealed, true love is conceived or destroyed, and a baby is delivered on the dining room table. The filmmakers pay stylistic homage to the great screwball comedies of 1930s American cinema, as well as the mannered farces perfected by French New Wave auteurs.

I am the Marketing and Social Media intern for Progression, and I couldn’t be more thrilled to work on such a cool project! Stay tuned for more!

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BROODING YA HERO

photo 2 What began as a procrastinating silly twitter account has morphed into… a silly twitter account used by many people to procrastinate. He’s a cool guy, and far funnier than me. Check him out above, (he’s already been gazing at you with his cerulean, vivid, intense gaze, so you might as well) or find his broken-hearted, lovelorn tweets on @broodingYAhero

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Hail to Pitt! Hail to Grad School! Hail to Coffee!

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So, those are all the things keeping me busy and mostly out of trouble. What about you, folks? What are you working on?

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Storytellers

I love books. Obviously. But what I love more than books, are stories. It’s in my blood. My grandpa could weave a story better than anyone else. As a little kid, I’d love when he’d sit down, his brown eyes sparkling with mirth, and launch into a story of the time he threw fireworks in the river, or the time he won the island of Guam in a card game, or the day he met my grandmother by almost running her over.

The stories, of course, like all the best stories, had a hint of exaggeration, of larger than life details, but only to enhance the emotions of the already wonder-filled parts of life.

And I’d tell stories too. I’d spin little tales of days at school, retellings of books I’d read, adventures I’d had.  Once I learned to write, in grade school, and we were given prompts, I was ecstatic. A new avenue for me to tell my stories. Fantastic.

A week of prompts, focusing on our summer vacations. Day one, Packing for our Trip to Scotland. Day two. Arriving at Loch Ness. Day Three. Meeting Nessie. Day four, bringing Nessie home, letting him swim free in the Allegheny river.

Day five, a stern lecture from the teachers about things like “Lying” “Journals are Nonfiction” and other very boring things.

Truth doesn’t come naturally to me. Not because I’m malicious, but because I want to entertain. If you ask me, “What happened on your flight?” and I said, “Nothing, I slept the whole time,” Well, that’s boring. Can’t I paint a new tale, combining half-experienced moments from the past into one interesting story?

Well. No. That’s lying.


But, I can write stories.