Sunday, January 16, 2011

Uncertainty and Certainty

This weekend has been perfect for unwinding from the first couple weeks of January. Yesterday, I went to an adorable hole-in-the-wall restaurant with two girlfriends. We talked until the restaurant closed! The conversation went in so many directions and one theme that kept unearthing was uncertainty.

I realized that at one point, I used to take so much pride in having a plan:

Oh, I will be married to this guy at this age
I will choose this career and start it right after college and love it forever
I will have 2.5 kids and live in a suburb

But the past couple of years have taught me how to be uncomfortable with uncertainty, to appreciate its transience, its fickle way of emerging and playing peek-a-boo.

Being uncertain can maybe even say more than being certain.

If I know why something rattles me or just doesn't sit well with me, then maybe that's a loud scream for reflection. It can be difficult to also understand the future weight of our decisions. Sometimes, certain things seem like such a big deal, and then a few years go by and we realize that they weren't that life threatening at all!

Now, after reading a lot of your wonderful blogs, I'd also like to bring up the issue of certainty. Or rather, confidence.

Another girlfriend of mine was talking to me about her career aspirations. At one point she said, "I know I'm smart."
I found it quite liberating that she was aware of her own intelligence. She did not compare herself to anyone else or say a single word beyond that. And well, she is smart. Very smart. I'm glad she knows that.

As writers, we have to be our own sources of confidence. I know we're always looking for constructive critiques and ways to cultivate the craft but....

why don't we give ourselves some credit for how far we have come?

There is no need to always downplay!

So, my questions today are,

What do you like about your writing? What is your favorite thing about the last piece you wrote?


What is a positive quality you know you have?

P.S. Hello to new readers :) I love all of your messages, comments, and links and cannot wait to come visit your blogs!


  1. Good points! I think that there is so much rejection inherent in the writing process that sometimes we lose faith in our own abilities. Sure, there are always things in our work that can be improved, but it is important to also treasure our strengths.

    What I love about my book: It is beautiful, sad and unique. It makes a horrible, hopeless mess, then cleans it up in surprising, unpredictable ways. It has small people asking big questions and the characters are overwhelmingly human in places. I like it. :)

  2. Uncertainty=adventure! I love it...usually. :)
    I think writers need to remember that taking the time and energy to write is like investing. I mean, people take huge risks investing in the stock market--but shouldn't we have more confidence in what we know of ourselves?
    What I love about my book: it surprised me by being more beautiful and meaningful than the book I set out to write. And there are some sentences I am very proud of. :)

  3. This is a lovely post. It's important to recognize and remind ourselves of our own strengths.

  4. Ahh. Confidence. Success breeds confidence. The trick is how to have confidence before you have success. Inspiring post.

  5. Have you ever gone back over your current WIP or something else you've written and thought to yourself "I wrote that? Dang, that was good!" I love those moments...

  6. uncertainty certainly keeps life interesting...

  7. First things first. I loved the bit about the "I know I'm smart" friend. Really. It made me stop there. Think.

    Incidentally, I've been going through a phase in which I gotta decide whether to quit my job and go for an MBA. Now you know how did your smart friend helped.

    About my writing, last two fiction pieces of mine had a lot of heart in it. I guess that's what I like about them.

  8. I love that my life is sometimes interesting enough to write about. The more personal the story, the better it reads.

    As to your post, I remember once standing up in a circle of strangers, and saying something to the effect of " I am beautiful, smart, talented, funny, blah blah blah" and it was the most uncomfortable thing I think I have ever done (it was a 'growth exercise', if you will) I was shaking, and I didn't believe much of what I was saying. And then people started to comment on what I had said...calling it brave and a bunch of other lovely, positive things. That felt equally uncomfortable, maybe moreso.

    I find the line between confidence and conceited is so fuzzy. A boy I was once crazy about had dumped me after telling his friends (yes, it was sixth grade) he thought I was conceited. What a terrible thing to extinguish the light of confidence in another person.....or is it worse that we let other people extinguish our confidence.

    Yes, as you said, what a beautiful, and liberating thing to find that confidence again.

  9. You seriously just described my "old" perfect plan - the one where I'd meet someone at this age, get married at this age, find the perfect job here, build my career, buy the perfect house, etc.

    And I had that plan for YEARS... probably since I was a little girl, and let me tell you, I took it hard (some days, still do), when I realized things wouldn't work out as I'd planned.

    But it's true.. there's certainty in that uncertainty... my plans not working out led me back to writing... something I'd pretty much abandoned during university, but was something that was as much as part of me as that plan.

    I like how writing lets me escape, but I really love how it allows me to be "me" again. :)

  10. Favorite thing about my writing? That I can create believable, in-depth characters. Favorite thing about the last thing I wrote? From the piece I'm currently editing - I wrote a kick-ass action scene right in the middle of the story. No saggy middle for me!

  11. Oh, I love this post! I think it's important to remember why we write, and that we all have strength! It's so easy to doubt yourself, especially when you get a bad review or critique.

  12. This was a great post!Very inspiring!
    Hum... there are so many things I like about my writting its impossible to list them here ; )

  13. I must say this is one of my favorites posts on your blog. I think my positive quality has to be confidence. As for uncertainty, I think the minute you embrace it, it becomes the most beautiful thing in the world.

  14. What a positive post! Love it!

    Favorite thing about my writing: I like to use my poetry muscles in my prose here and there.

    And about myself? I'm good at sensing subtle emotional changes. I can tell if someone is worried or a bit unhappy from a mile away.

  15. I'm so glad that everyone can say things they love about their writing and themselves!

  16. I remember making all those silly deadlines about what would happen at certain ages and for a long time beat myself up about doing them later than I expected. The one thing I have confidence about now is that good things don't happen on my schedule, but they will come eventually.

    BTW, I have a gift for you on my blog.

  17. A wonderful blog.. I was just surfing around and happen to come over here. I read few of your posts and indeed you have a great writing skill. Keep doing the good work.

  18. When I was younger I had a plan too, but uncertainty rules in life!

    I think my favorite thing about my writing is dialogue. I'm not really a talker, but I can craft a great fictional conversation!

    The last piece I wrote has a really tacky love scene between a villain and a bad girl. I had fun writing it, especially after receiving feedback from my critique group.

    A positive about me, I'm compassionate.

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  20. Oh, I love this! It feels like I just stepped into a warm ray of sunshine during a bitter cold day. Thank you for balancing uncertainty with confidence.

    I know my writing is good because I can come back years later to stuff I wrote even when I hadn't studied a single book on writing craft... and I still LOVE it. Okay, the writing may not be good. But the ideas were GOOD and full of passion. and the writing can catch up to that. It takes work, but all worthy things take work.

    I LOVED that picture you had at the top - of the girl dozing in the meadow with her typewriter. I might have to steal that picture!

  21. Also love the picture up there. This is a great post. When you get your publishing contract, you're full of confidence. Then the book comes out, and some people love it, and confidence flows. And then some people don't like it. And more people don't like it. and they are way more vocal about it than those that do.

    And confidence ebbs.

    That's totally where I am right now, and trying hard to be confident in my ability.

  22. Haha, I love that picture too. I wish I had a vintage typewriter...sigh.