Nerves and Nerve – The Writer’s Life

So, I’m having this recurring nightmare. I’m at the CYA Conference in Brisbane ( 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?