Catherine Stine's IDEA CITY

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Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Indie Life--Confidence, that Crucial Element, plus Ruby Tour Continues

Today for Indie Life, sponsored by the fabulous Indelibles, and which posts once a month, I’m talking about confidence. About moving forward with authority, without doubting oneself, and how I developed this… skill, really, over the years. As an indie author, one needs a sense of sureness. Yes, we all have trusted colleagues that we run big decisions by. That said, anyone in the arts must have a strong sense of intuitive intelligence about their own work. Is it well written? Is the characterization true enough? Is the piece done?

In my former career, as an artist, specifically as a painter who showed work in galleries in Manhattan, I had that in spades. I was raised to be an artist, expected to be an artist, and I always had that gut strength that I knew what I was doing, where I fit in, in terms of genre, whether what a random gallerist said was BS or not. I sent my slides around everywhere, and landed great shows. I also got rejected from some galleries, but it slid off my back because intuitively I knew that opinion is subjective, and part of the process. I rarely took it personally. Tearing myself away from a fairly lucrative career where I sold work and got reviewed in good art magazines was like tearing out part of my heart and sewing up the gash with crude rawhide. But I needed to move on to my second love: writing!

Fast forward to my present career as a novelist. When I started to send out manuscripts I didn’t have that same sense of sureness. When editors pointed out flaws in story I was devastated. I asked for direction from way too many writers—some who were not good mentors. It’s taken me years to reach that place of authority—trusting in my gut, knowing whether a piece is solid without having to ask dozens of people.

But I took those lessons from my art career along inside me, and I did rely on my previous learning experiences to talk myself through rejections, through periods of insecurity. It helped me immensely. Of course, your latest novel often seems like your truest love--perfection. But I can really say, with the completion of Ruby’s Fire, my new YA fantasy, that I’ve reached that point of intuitive authority that I had as an artist—knowing it’s good no matter what anyone says, knowing that I’ve created deep, amazing characters and crazy plot twists. I remember how it felt to have that inherent sense of knowing, and it’s a relief to feel it again. I know I’ll have future moments of insecurity, but I’ll think back to my art career, and remember those life lessons. Oh, and Ruby and Fireseed contain my interior illustrations, so I've been able to blend my two careers!

The Ruby’s Fire Tour continues 'til week's end. Here are the hosts for today, Thursday and Friday (Links go live on the day of). Stop by and say hi! For the entire lineup click here. Enter the Rafflecopter below for big prizes. Here's the link to read more Indie Life posts.
What helps give you confidence as an author?

August 14
Fae Books: Guest post: What Inspires me to Write?

August 15

August 16
Marked by Books: Sneak Peeks & BONUS mini-review!
a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. Perfect timing for this post, Catherine. I've been battling self-doubt a lot lately. It's tough to know you wrote a good book despite the fact that not everyone will love it or want to read it.

  2. Building that sort of confidence can be so difficult! But I love how you took your artist confidence and finally found it in your writing too. :)

  3. Congrats on reaching that point. I'll admit that I go up and down as far as confidence. :) I do understand that stories aren't for everyone and everyone won't enjoy mine - that's just part of the biz. :)

  4. I think the confidence for me comes in believing I have the talent and skill to do this well--or that I can at least get there with enough drafts. :D A lot of people do things okay, but for me that's not the goal with my writing.

    Realizing that not every type of storyteller will connect with every type of reader, I still want people to read my stories and feel I've got some level of ability. If that makes sense.

    You also hit on one of the things I love most about writing. Literally any experience or training you've had can play a big part in your identity as a writer. My master's degree is in counseling, and I have some unique insight into human psychology. That has helped me immensely in creating characters people can identify with--no matter how over the top they are on the page. LOL

    Great that you're bringing your artistic skill into this!

    As for the Rafflecopter entry... What I love about writing and reading speculative fiction is that anything goes. I know my readers are going to allow me to throw in an alien or werewolf at any juncture if that's where my imagination takes me. And I love reading stories where there's no telling what you'll find in the next chapter. :)

  5. We all stumble in the beginning and lack that confidence. I was proud of my first book but I didn't gain total confidence until my second.

  6. I think time and a lot of practice go a long way towards building confidence.

  7. For me, the most helpful thing has been addressing negative mindstates like envy and self-judgment through my meditation practice...ridiculous definitions of "success," etc. Oh, and developing a quiet discipline in my writing schedule! Great post.

  8. This post is right up my alley. It took me awhile to find that self-assuredness as a writer, and maybe I didnt feel it cuz my writing/stories weren't there yet. But I'm feeling it with my latest, and know it wont be every reader's cup of tea, but only concerned with finding the ones who WILL connect with it.
    Glad to hear your experience as both an artist and a writer. :)

  9. Once I write something I like, I don't worry about the rest.

  10. It's hard in the beginning to have that confidence, especially when writing comes with so much built-in rejection (same with art I would imagine). I do think if you're meant to write, and you stay at it long enough, you gain authority over the work. Knowing you can finish multiple novels is a great confidence booster too. :)

  11. I sometimes still need a thicker skin. I quit reading reviews. They do me no good. And you're right, it is subjective. I do know what I'm doing most of the time. It's a weird mix of confidence and not.

  12. Some rejections still hit me harder than others. Though it's a big improvement on my early 20s when one rejection chased me away from letting anyone see my writing for ten years!

  13. Great post. A thick skin is important as is confidence. And it is a "skill" that takes time to develop. =)

  14. "It’s taken me years to reach that place of authority—trusting in my gut, knowing whether a piece is solid without having to ask dozens of people." Artistic work takes time. A longer time than other careers. I'm still not here yet ~ that place of authority, but I can feel my trust building. Bit by bit, huh? :)

  15. Yes, Caludine, bit by bit!
    RaShelle, a thick skin is essential.
    Alex & Christine, yeah, I cringe when I think of those first rejections in my twenties.
    M, so true that it continues to be a "weird mix of confidence and not."
    Sandra, practice & more practice!
    LG, yes, completing a novel is a landmark for sure.
    Helen, banishing negativity is key.
    PK, it is important to know that certain folks will love your stories and others won't. So, yeah, being realistic.
    Andrew, good quality in not worrying!

  16. I have a team of cheerleaders who promptly smack me over the head if I start doubting--one of whom is my fabulous editor. Everyone needs that, right? In fact, I think that's one of the essential ingredients before you can head out on your own.

  17. Personal cheerleaders are always good. I have a great writing group and we've been through a lot together.

  18. My writing group are definitely great cheerleaders, and challenge me when I slack off because of self-doubt.

  19. Katja, too bad you're "across the pond", you'd be a great writing group addition!

  20. It takes a while to build that confidence and those cheerleaders are definitely a help along the way.