Nerves and Nerve – The Writer’s Life

So, I’m having this recurring nightmare. I’m at the CYA Conference in Brisbane (www.cyaconference.com) and it’s time for the prize winners to be announced. It starts the same way every time. They’re announcing the winner for my category, and I hear my name called. I’m shocked and pleased and excited, and I go up on to the stage to collect my certificate. This is where the dream changes from time to time. There are three main variants:

  1. I get on to the stage and I’m in my PJs. Everybody laughs.
  2. I get on to the stage and they tell me it was all a mistake – I haven’t won. Everybody laughs.
  3. I try to get on to the stage but the steps just keep going on forever and I can never quite get there. Everybody laughs.

Now, obviously I’ve got issues. That goes without saying. But what I really want to talk about is the WHY – why do writers feel compelled to put their work out there at the same time as we’re thinking “I’m not good enough”? My manuscript is shortlisted in its category, so I should feel reassured that there is something special enough about it that people might want to read it. I had no qualms about entering the CYA Conference Competition – the first major writing competition I’ve entered since I started writing in the young adult genre – but as soon as I clicked “send” on my entry, I was wracked with insecurities. It’s a theme I hear repeated over and over again from writers, both emerging and established. We’re quite possibly the most insecure people on earth.

What’s with that?