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positive affirmation

Monthly Wrap: Faking Confidence

by Susan Henderson on May 9, 2008

Just want to mention quickly that today is Mr. Henderson’s and my 16th anniversary. Twenty-one and a half years if you count the high-drama dating.

He’s so skinny here. I think the stress of wedding planning far outweighed any stress that came after it. (And if he disagrees with me, our Thai dinner is off.)

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I liked reading your answers to this month’s question and having a look inside a single drawer or pocket of yours. The tiniest corner of your home can say so much about you, and it was fascinating to see you through the lens of what you hold on to. I think this is why, when I visit someone, the first thing I do is poke around – I see what’s on the wall, in the candy dish, on the bookshelf. It’s like cutting right to the heart of someone, where all the interesting stuff lies.

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I was tempted to come here today and talk about the process of editing this book. I could show you the piles of things left undone – letters I have yet to respond to, phone calls I meant to return, blood tests I didn’t follow up on, prescriptions I never filled. The piles around the house show the practically insane focus I’ve kept on my book.

I started typing a little something about what my edits were like, but it was hard to know where to begin. This latest round of edits only scratches the surface of what I’ve done to this book and what this book has done to me. And as I typed, I could feel my throat seize up and my rib cage squeeze tight – because, right now, even remembering hurts.

Instead, I’m going to show you a corner of the bulletin board in my office.

For me, confidence is a slippery thing. I can’t hold onto it for long.

But it’s key because my writing is no good when I’m hesitant or criticizing myself as I go.

So how do you sustain a belief in yourself and in your work when it’s not your nature? When you’ve collected more rejection slips than acceptances? When, despite working day after day, you just can’t get it right? How do you not get eaten up by self-loathing?

This was at the root of my struggle throughout. And to finish this book, I had to find my will to fight, to believe I had something to say and that I was the one who needed to say it.

Back to the bulletin board. Every day before I went to work on my book, I pinned something up that would keep me going. Some days it was a fortune from a cookie, some days it was a horoscope that said everything I’d been working so hard to achieve would soon materialize. Some days, I pinned up nice things that big-shots said about my writing.

An important book. ~ Sessalee Hensley

A literary masterpiece with commercial appeal. ~ Kirkus

Some days, I simply put up notes like, You’re closer than you think.

I suppose it would be better if my confidence came from within. But for now, it’s mostly external. Mostly fictional, too. I made up every quote that kept me going. But whatever gets you through – right?

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Thanks so much for everyone who played here this week, for a great literary discussion between Lance Reynald and Anthony Tognazzini, and for all of you who linked to LitPark: Koreanish, Lynn Alexander, Making It Up, Lance Reynald, Five Star Literary Stories, Wish It Were Fiction, Anthony Tognazzini. I appreciate those links!

See you first Monday of next month. Write your heart out until then.

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