Second Guessing Myself: For Better or Worse


A week has passed since we returned from Sleuth Fest. The excitement is slowly ebbing away and I’ve begun to start all of the second guessing.  Why do we do that?

Go confidently into your dreams!

Yeah, yeah, yeah…I know the “experts” tell us that we are supposed to exude confidence on our marketing platform, but this started out as a blog to socialize and get to know readers and writers, and you’ve learned, by now, that I’m about as candid as they come.

I’m trying my best to stay positive, but Doubt, the raven, keeps flying around overhead. (Thanks a lot Craig. Could you keep him in Idaho for a couple of months?)

It’s not that I have no faith, it’s that I’ve been living on faith for a couple of years now.  My faith is much greater than my fear. And yet, I second guess myself.

I shouldn’t have repeated myself about my character’s dynamics. “I got that already,” the agent said. (ie. “Let’s not waste time here.”)

When asked about my experiences with the LGBT community. In my effort to avoid saying, “I have friends who are trans,” (You know, that’s like a white person saying, “I have friends who are black.”), I stumbled all over my experiences with the transsexuals I’ve known in hospital settings and their struggle with transition, both physical and psychological. I totally forgot to mention the joy we find at the Footlight Theater at the Parliament House. We have a large LGBTQ community here in Orlando and they are an integral part of my everyday life. I’ve heard their stories. We’ve laughed and cried together.

Stereotypes: There are so many negative connotations associated with that word. Why, oh why, did I mention stereotypes? You all know how I feel about stereotypes. I’ve written about them on this blog and in guest posts, and how we can use the hardwired images to introduce them, yet show how a person breaks out of the stereotype in our fiction writing, or by giving an antagonist a stereotypical thinking and showing how it contributes to his demise in the end. But did I really need to go there with an agent? Was what I was trying to say received clearly? IDK.

Okay, it was a short meeting, and he DID ask for the full manuscript, and I was thrilled.

I couldn’t decide whether to send the brief one page synopsis or the more detailed three page synopsis. I sent the detailed three page one to the agent who asked for the full manuscript, and both to the agent/editor who asked for partials. Have absolutely no idea why I did that. Probably should have sent the brief one to the one who asked for the whole manuscript, and the more detailed one to those who asked for partials.

And now I wait with the anticipation of a child at Christmas who has just been told, “There is no Santa Claus.”

We were told to expect anywhere from two weeks to three months to hear back from an agent, and yet, I find myself clicking send/receive a dozen times a day, just to see if, by chance, there is any word.

On the brighter side, in an effort to block my anxieties, I’ve thrown myself into reading. In as much as I’ve decided not to worry myself over Amazon’s review dropping, I’ll be posting some book reviews here in the near future. I’m reading both craft books and fiction.

Things are getting back to normal. There are a few diversions on my calendar; the grandbaby’s birthdays, a week-long trip to the Gulf Coast in April, another minor surgery (it sucks getting old), and I have a HUGE surprise to announce soon about something that will occur in August, if all goes well.

Have you ever second guessed yourself?

How did it turn out?

59 thoughts on “Second Guessing Myself: For Better or Worse

  1. I second guess myself all the time. Seems to be part of my nature. Though I think that ‘exude confidence’ thing is more about outward perspective. Show that while being a nervous wreck inside. Kind of like ‘never let them see you sweat/bleed’. Wonder if anybody ever considers that someone could be a great author, but verbal communication is terrifying to them. That’s a big factor that tends to get overlooked.

    • That’s exactly what’s at play with my social anxiety. I feel all panicky inside when talking to people. I never did in nursing. I taught large classes of people without batting an eye, but this writing thing is new. I haven’t been doing it for thirty years. I’ve gotten comfortable with my video image by doing Google Hang Outs with my ecf friends. I would never do a video interview because of my anxieties. Now it seems easier.I’m hearing on other social media that short video clips are where it’s at in marketing these days. So I guess it’s a good thing that I’m getting more comfortable with it.

      • I have issues with large crowds until I get going. There’s like a discomfort barrier that I have to get by, but that never goes away with one-on-one. Smart use of Google Hangouts in getting used to things.

        • I’ve always been camera shy. My kids are annoyed that there are not more pictures of me in my youth. “When you were young and beautiful,” my well-meaning daughter says to me. A lot can change in five or ten years. My grandmother was one of the most beautiful people in my life, and I didn’t meet her until she was in her sixties. I regret not having more photos of her (and she was camera shy), so I’ve chosen not to do that to my grandkids, embracing my image and making the best of it. I had a photo shoot yesterday and felt really weird posing. We’ll see later this week how that turned out.

  2. Sorry you’re having a rough time of it. I bet we never get over second guessing? o_O A lot of help I am. Sorry.

    I second guess myself all the time. I can’t help it. The trouble is, when I do–though it might be past the point of no return–I have a better idea than the first time. See. How can I stop?

    • Guilty as charged. Like Don Mattingly’s quote says, it’s one way to improve. I have always had a habit of running over my past to see what I can learn from it. That’s actually a good thing, or at least, it has been for me.

  3. Oh yes, indeed I have. I often rehash things I said and wish I had said them differently, not just in relation to writing, but to other things too. Some of that’s human nature, some of it’s being an overthinking introvert. I don’t have much useful advice other than to stay busy. Distraction works for many things.

  4. I don’t think there’s a writer alive who hasn’t second-guessed themselves. I’ve also never met anyone who has heard back from an agent in two days. Oh, I’ve heard the stories, but they’re rare. The normal turn around is 1-3 months, and when the manuscript is from an event like SleuthFest, it’ll be more toward the latter of that range. Stop driving yourself crazy. Easier said than done, I know. Boy, do I know. But I’ve had friends who waited six months for a rejection letter. It sucks, it’s hard, and there’s no way around it. Try to stay positive, Susan. Believe in yourself and in your dream. The best part is, before an agent or editor will offer representation they’ll Google you. So they’ll see this post.

    • Yikes! I hadn’t though of that. Well, if he does, he’ll see how important he is to me and how much I value his opinion. They all told us that they push manuscripts forward if they received them from people they had actually had face-to-face contact with at events, but said two weeks to three months, and to let them know if another agent makes an offer, so they have opportunity to counter. Wouldn’t that just be thrilling? Hope springs eternal. Rejection always sucks, and I’m bracing myself for that, too. I have a long list of agents to query, but it just makes so much sense to me to work with someone I have personally met and feel comfortable with, after all, we’ll be partners in this endeavor.

  5. These days I always second-guess myself about anything to do with my talents. I second-guess everything I write. Even when my first book hit some bestseller lists, I doubted it. So I think it’s part of being a writer, my dear. Hang in there. You’re doing the right thing – read! Just don’t go comparing yourself with those authors, you hear? You are uniquely you.

    • Thanks, Cynthia.My first book was soooo different in style, genre, character, tone, themes. I threw it out there without much thought. Then, I got a blog and began doing all this research on writing and book selling and marketing. In so many ways, ignorance is bliss. With every promo, my book hits best sellers lists, and still I doubt. I know it’s artificial and it really takes dozens of successes to become a master. I recall my first CPR experience. I was a terrified kid. After three or four years in critical care, it was like tying shoelaces. I can do this!

  6. You’re in good company, Susan. I think all of us are guilty of second guessing ourselves. My worst time of day, is the early morning hours, when I wake up and can’t fall back asleep. My mind races with self-doubt. I suppose it goes with the territory.

  7. You need to forget the agents and editors. If they want you, they will call you. You won’t miss their e-mail and as much as I hate to say it you are not the only thing they have going on. It all sounds positive now have fun on something else.

    • Yeah. I read a post about how one editor cuts her scripts. The agents at Sleuth Fest let us know they each get 140-200 manuscripts a week to sift through. I’m staying hopeful that mine will shine bright enough to make the next cut.

      I’m in reading mode for the next few weeks. Lots of catching up to do.

  8. The Don Mattingly quote says it all as far as I’m concerned. There’s nothing wrong with doubt, as long as you don’t let it control you and prevent you from experiencing all that you are capable of.

  9. Second guessing yourself is just part of being a writer. You’ll drive yourself batty if you dwell on it. When I send off manuscripts I try to put them out of my mind. For me, that means immediately focusing on my next project. Sure, I still think and wonder and agonize as the months drag on, waiting to hear back. Even as a contract writer for a house, I still have to go through a 1-2 month waiting period and face the same rejection as anyone else. But focusing on something new keeps me productive and moving in the right direction. It sounds like you have plenty of good things you can focus on while you wait. Before you know it, time will fly. Wishing you the very best success!!!

  10. Send the raven home. I’ll get my beta reads in order and will need him for the next step. That dissenting voice has it’s uses, then I’ll buy him another ticket to Florida.

  11. Setting us up with the Mattingly quote was a good way to get us thinking. I can usually distinguish between when I’m running something over in my mind as a means of improving and when I’m just obsessing. Right now I’m working on a new novel. I feel that plotting is one of my weaknesses. So I do need to consider whether I’m moving the plot forward. But if I second guess myself too much, I’ll lose faith in the story and get bogged down. It’s a balancing act.

    • Don’t let that happen. When I wrote Naked Alliances, being a crime novel, I kept wonder if I was revealing too much or too little to my reader audience. Having the necessity to plot it out and outline to keep up with details, and already knowing the outcome, made so hard to decide. I ultimately just wrote the darn thing and let beta readers make the call.

      • Oh, I’m so sorry. Can you resubmit to this agent? if not, it’s just a shitty agent and you have yet to find the right one. (easy for me to be positive, I know . . .)

        • She was very complimentary polite and pleasant in her personalized email, though vague about why she felt the story elements “Didn’t equal the sum of their parts.” ??? It was as if the chapters she read didn’t quite meet her expectations. But I submitted to two more agents and have yet to hear back from two others.

  12. All the time, Sue, all the time! It’s how we grow and develop and improve. Otherwise we’d stay static, and never improve. So don’t feel bad about it, it’s just part of your development as a writer. And I hope you don’t have too long of a wait, and that it’s good news. Its so wonderful to hear of another authors newfound success, gives the rest of us hope. I admire you. You get out what you put it, and you certainly put a lot in for this! Be proud! 😊

    • I needed to hear that today. Thank you, Ali. Whenever I go up, I am bound to come down. Today, I’ve been in a funk. Oh, it’s not the book…well, yes, maybe some of the anticipation there. What I really need is a dependable, energetic housekeeper…and her, I am not.

      • Oh lol! I know how you feel! You ought to try it with 2 muddy sporty boys, a dribbly messy little girl, a dirty dawg and an untidy husband! Housework is the most unrewarding job ever! I feel your pain! But if you don’t mind me saying, I think your anxiety over your writing is feeding into other areas of your life, and I would be just the same. What helps me is burning sage or incense sticks to get rid of negative energy, and Reiki. Reiki is fantastic for promoting relaxation, wellbeing, positivity and healing, so if you can get yourself a session I strongly recommend it. Hope you don’t mind my suggestions, I don’t want to annoy. Hope you’re feeling happier soon. Xxx

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