Welcome to Following the Whispers blog

Thank you so much for taking the time to visit. Hope you enjoy your stay. I blog here whenever I feel the need. This blog was created at the time my memoir came out, in February, 2009. Its motto was: creating a life of inner peace and self-acceptance from the depths of despair. Now, my focus is sharing this journey we call life.

“Only one thing is more frightening than speaking your truth, and that is not speaking it.” Naomi Wolf

“We are called human beings, not human doings.” Wes Nisker, Buddhist teacher

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs…(And) if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.” Theodore Roosevelt

Monday, October 26, 2009

Self-confident or Conceited

As writers, if we want to be successful, we have to learn to promote ourselves. Even though I spent 30+ years marketing others, this part is difficult for me. I finally decided to ask myself why. The answer is complex, but at the core, it feels like bragging when I talk about my book, or my writing, or my upcoming workshop.

Not content to leave it there (you guys know by now I never leave anything without pulling it apart first), I remembered my mother telling me not to win at games--others would feel bad. I remember being told it was conceited if you said nice things about yourself. And talking about successes, well, that's just plain bragging.

Self-confidence, on the other hand, means one has faith and trust in who they are. There is a knowing, deep inside, that they have worth. There is value in who they are and what they do.

After years of hating myself, I finally have a healthy self-esteem. I know I am a good person. I know I bring love and joy to those in my life. I even know that I wrote a....oops I was about to write that I wrote a good book when the fingers stopped typing. I can't write that. That's bragging. That's conceited. That's just wrong for me to say that about myself.

But is it? I don't have a pat answer for this one, folks. I'm still struggling with it. I wouldn't take offense or think you were conceited if you said good things about your books. I might get annoyed if you pushed me to buy it, however. I want to make that decision myself after getting to know you. Ah, maybe that's the key. I don't have to say the book is good. I have to share what it's about. And I have to share me. But I do have to know, inside of myself, that my work is good. Otherwise, why would I want anyone to know about it.

What are you thoughts about self-confidence versus conceit? Are you comfortable talking about your writing? Curious minds want to know...



Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

Great post on a topic that's very interesting to me! And...what workshop are you doing? :) Inquiring minds want to know!

No, I'm not at all comfortable introducing myself as a writer and mention it only begrudgingly in conversation if I'm pushed to answer the "what do you do?" question. I think it's because I'm an introvert and absolutely hate drawing attention to myself. I'd rather be listening to the other person I'm talking with (and maybe jotting down some mental notes on a new possible character!) But I also don't want people to think I'm acting like a big shot.

When I was an aspiring author, I *never* mentioned it. It was *absolutely* a self confidence issue. You've hit the nail on the head.

Mystery Writing is Murder

Tabitha Bird said...

As usual, you have me thinking :)

I think it is important to back ourselves and our work. If we don't first back ourselves then how can we ever expect anyone else to back us? And I love a quote that I once heard which talked about this very thing. It went something along the lines of, "It is our light and not our darkness that we are most afraid of. Your playing small does not serve the world." There was more to the quote than that, but I cannot remember it. Basically though it was saying that we are most afraid of what might happen if we succeed and have to back ourselves as success. so many times I think we say we are less than what we are because we don't want others to feel bad. I don;t think we should go around big noting ourselves, but I want to get to a place where I can own my abilities and say it like it is. How do I serve the world with my skills if I cannot even own the fact that I have some?

I don't know... that is what I think anyway :)

Suzyhayze said...

I guess I know something about this from the outside in... (A degree in Sociology can be useful!) So it is very true that a good sense of self confidence can be tempered down off the vanity step if infused with a great sense of humor. Does that make sense?

Great post!

Joanne said...

Writing is such an extension of our selves, I can understand the reluctance to talk it up. But I don't really think of shop talk as conceit; it's more a sharing, a communication, of that which is so close to our hearts.

Crystal Clear Proofing said...

Karen, I'm on the other side of this fence, and I'll tell you that I have yet to meet a writer or an author who is comfortable promoting their own work. They learn to become more at ease with it, but I think there's always that niggling little doubt, or fear of coming across as a braggart.

I don't think it's simply a matter of a person's career either. Most of us are taught at an early age all about conceit and bragging. It's ingrained in us and who we are and how we act - and it's a very difficult trait to change, or alter.

You have done an excellent job, however in this post on very aptly addressing this issue. I commend you on your progress in this particular area. It's obvious that you have a good understanding of YOU and how you feel.

Donna M. Kohlstrom said...

I'm still having trouble telling anyone that I am a writer. When I do tell, I make lots of excuses for myself. I feel like I can't tell anyone I'm a writer unless I've written a book that is on the NY Times Best Seller List.

One time when I won an award for a story, I called and emailed everyone I know. Yes I was bragging, but I felt I earned it!

L. Diane Wolfe said...

People confuse ego with self esteem as well. Confidence is good! It's belief in yourself.

And I have a hard time praising my own books to others, expecially at signings. There's a line between enticing and overhyping!

The Old Silly said...

Knowing and having confidence that you are good at what you do is healthy. Conceit is born of overblown ego and not healthy. Talking up your product with confidence in its merit is good and fine. Bragging as if you are the elite and unique gift from god above all others is just being a boor. My two cents. Well, three - taking inflation into account.

Marvin D Wilson

Jody Hedlund said...

Oh Karen, I struggle with this all the time! I hate to feel like I'm boasting! But we are required to do more and more of our marketing these days! So when we promote ourselves as writers and our books, it does feel like we're standing up tooting our own horns! I'd much rather a marketer do that for me! Because as you said, we don't often trust those who say "buy my great book!" It just feels too subjective! But is someone else says that about us, then it feels more legit!

Karen Walker said...

I'm oh so glad I'm not the only one who struggles with this.
Elizabeth, I'm doing a workshop on "Tuning in to Intuition: A Practical Appoach" based on some of the issues in my memoir. I've decided the best way to market my book is to write articles and do talks on the things I write about there. Way out of my comfort zone, but wish me luck!

Elspeth Antonelli said...

I think this is a problem common to everyone who works in a creative field; it certainly is the case with many actors I know (me included). On the one hand, you think you're fairly good (or you wouldn't be attempting it in the first place) but on the other hand you don't want to sound conceited. It's a tricky balance because it all boils down to ego.


Galen Kindley--Author said...

I think you hit on a nice point, Karen, when you talked about explaining the book, answering questions about it and about writing and how much you enjoy it and enjoyed writing the book. I see nothing wrong with that at all. Then, if the person you’re speaking with wants to followup with you about where to buy a copy or what not…that’s golden.

Best Regards, Galen

Imagineering Fiction Blog

Sylvia Dickey Smith said...

I find it quite difficult to talk about my writing or myself. I attended a writers conference this weekend and after introducing myself to a woman I'd never met before, and chatting with her for a few minutes, she looked at me, smiled, and said, "What a find, you are." Those words bowled me over. That old teaching of humility rushed forward. I am humble--because I know me well enough to judge myself as missing the mark, yet when the woman said that, I thought--maybe I cut myself short. Maybe I can be thankful to be 'a find' and still know where I miss the mark. Good discussion question!

Jane Kennedy Sutton said...

I am still not comfortable talking about myself as a writer or promoting my book. Like Elizabeth said, I hate being the center of attention. However, through necessity, I'm getting better at handling it - I think.

N A Sharpe said...

Wow, what a great post. Marketing is not my strong suit because I have issues with this very thing. To promote your work you ultimately have to promote yourself. That's a bewildering situation for me - after all, throughout our lives we are taught humility - not to draw attention. Of course only a couple of years ago I was naive and thought writers, well, wrote the book and there were "people" to market it. I never knew I would need to be my own "people", lol.

Nancy, from Realms of Thought…