Yesterday I shared the link my first ever Contributoria story, one that I am beyond thrilled to see published. But at the same time, my stomach has been in knots all day waiting for ... something. Some sort of backlash, or snide comment on a Tweet, or anything else that will promptly pop my little happy bubble.
If I'm being honest, I worry about this with every single piece that gets published. Whether I'm writing about Iranian policy on extremism or Audrey Hepburn movies, my heart is in a tangle. It's not something I worry about until the night before I know it's going live or, if I don't have a date ahead of time, the first full day after it has been posted. My pride is tempered by this rock in the pit of my stomach, convinced as I am that every comment will be a troll letting me know that my writing and my existence is entirely unacceptable.
I know that isn't true, and I've dealt with negative feedback without any repercussions. Most of my work is well received, albeit without a whole lot of engagement from readers. My writing is shared on social media, I get good feedback from editors, and my pitches continue being accepted regularly. There's no rational reason to think that, suddenly, one rude comment on one piece is going to torpedo my career, as if editors will see it and cry out in unison, "My God! How didn't I see it before? This woman is just a pile of gerbils in a trench coat hitting keys at random!" And yet, the fear remains.
I'm a self-conscious and anxious person by nature. If you ever speak to me in person, I apologize in advance for tripping over my words, turning bright red, and possibly making no sense. I get nervous. I get tongue-tied. I hate confrontation, and I'm usually convinced that whatever is about to come out of my mouth will cause grave offense, even if it's just a casual comment on the weather. I know that I write much better than I speak, but I can't help getting the same nervy twisting in the pit of my stomach when I know a piece is going live. It's like walking into a room and very loudly saying, "Yo! Listen up! Here's the way I feel about some stuff!"
I love writing, and I believe it is important to be honest about the challenges of being a writer. For me, a natural introvert, my confidence in the written word only waivers momentarily, but it waivers all the same.
Bridey is a freelance writer living in Washington, D.C.
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