I just found this through Elegance Icy’s post! (Yeah, I am that far behind on all the blogs I follow. It’s… one of those months. Again.)
The purpose of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group is to share doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak, and encourage each other. There’s a new question on the first Wednesday of every month, so here’s July.
What’s the best thing someone has ever said about your writing?
This is not difficult to answer. A college friend of mine who I followed on Tumblr did one of those “give me a number and I will publish a compliment directed anonymously to your number.” What she wrote was beautiful, and I was smart enough at the time to take a screencap of it.
First, I should say that these days I struggle with the feeling that I was a much better writer in college than I am now. I haven’t really written and completed any original fiction since graduating six years ago. (My NaNoWriMo novel does not count, because even though I hit the 50k word mark I didn’t actually get to the end of the story.) I still haven’t gotten anything published. I haven’t even tried to enter any writing contests. Even when I sort of make some progress on my novel, I still feel like I’m merely treading water.
So every once in a while I pull this out and read it again for a self-esteem boost.
“Oh my god, have I ever mentioned that you saved [that writing class] for me? Because you did. You were a huge part of why I didn’t pointlessly cause conflict in that workshop — I might’ve been closer with [some of our other classmates], but you were one of the standouts in that class, because you didn’t just kowtow to [the professor’s] definition of ‘acceptable’ fiction, and her habit of erasing sci-fi, fantasy, and supernatural-themed stories with stuff like, ‘I don’t even think this IS a fantasy story.’
I was actually going through some of my collections from old classes the other day and found an old copy of [one of your stories from that class] and remembered just how much I fucking loved it. If I haven’t mentioned it before: I love how uncompromising you were about the fact that people can write ‘genre fiction’ and have it be amazing, even if it doesn’t fit the strictest definition of ‘literary fiction.’
You can be really shy and kind of quiet, in person, but anyone who thinks you’re just that is dead wrong — you’re feisty, your sense of humor is absolutely killer, I love your brain and how unique your perspective on things are… You’re one of the people who makes me proud to have gone to [our college]. You’re a great example of what our alma mater’s system can produce, when it’s paired with someone who has all the talent and insight, but also has a drive that some people lack. It’s not like, drive in a stereotypically Slytherin-esque, ‘I want to take over the world’ sort of way; it’s this quiet determination to make yourself and your work the best that it can be, and I admire that in you.”
… That’s probably not only the best thing anyone has said about my writing, but the best, most well-composed compliment I’ve ever received.
My first thought upon rereading it was, “No… I wasn’t that uncompromising.” And then I remembered some of the
arguments heated discussions I got into with that professor. Mostly they involved fanfiction and whether or not it was a valid writing exercise (I still think it is), but although I can’t remember specifics I’m sure there were more topics besides that one that we clashed over. That example statement is something that would make me cranky enough to say something, especially if I’d been hearing it on a regular basis. If you wanted to consider a sci-fi story more in terms of the human elements than the setting it’s placed in then fine, but it is still sci-fi because you could do that with just about any story.
I’m already itching to find the story she was talking about and reread it, maybe edit it a bit and try to get it published somewhere. The reason I never had before is because I always sort of wanted it to be longer, possibly novel length. But I’ve also read a fair amount of novels that were originally published as short stories, so why not. Might as well work on my follow-through.
To all insecure writers out there (insecure anybody, really), I recommend going to your most eloquent friend and asking them to write down something they really like about you. Then save it and keep it for any gloomy moods you have in the years to come.