Fear, failure and fraudulence at the Wheeler Centre blog

I was very happy to be asked to springboard off my recent post Stella, and a digression on envy, work, inadequacy for the Wheeler Centre blog. Authors Krissy Kneen, Alan Baxter, Max Barry and Mel Campbell kindly and honestly responded to my probing questions about writerly anxieties and feelings of inadequacy, and some of their responses are included in the piece. I thank them very much.

It begins:

A writer’s life is fraught with fear, anxiety and feelings of inadequacy. These feelings cluster around desires and ambitions, arise at the desk itself, hover about at festivals and events, attach themselves to advances, grants and prizes, lurk in one’s inbox and on social media, and pop up in one’s daily life. Even Sylvia Plath wondered about whether both her and Ted Hughes’ writing was ‘good enough’: ‘We get rejections. Isn’t this the world’s telling us we shouldn’t bother to be writers?’

Read the rest here.

3 thoughts on “Fear, failure and fraudulence at the Wheeler Centre blog

  1. Oh, good post Angela. I think I’d label (but gently so), Krissy Kneen an ageist! Think Elizabeth Jolley, Olga Masters and Amy Witting to name just three Aussie writers who didn’t have their first books published until their 50s or even 60s! Life doesn’t end at 40 – in fact, it does end until it ends, so you just keep on going, finding your own way. As for that male writer, I sure hope he’s not someone I admire! We all know stories of great books that nearly didn’t come to light. How many, then, really didn’t?

    I will just add though – just raise a little flag for the non-creatives among us – that it’s not only writers who suffer from performance anxiety, who fear being a fraud. Anyone who cares about what they do can feel this way. I know! (I do appreciate however that with creative people the criticism, if it comes, can be very public and I do admire you all for that).

    I am just reading Steeplechase now – just past her exhibition where she feels unconfident. Interesting book and I hope to finish and write it up later this week.

  2. Great post. I have to say that your post echoes everything I’ve ever read about writers – the anxiety, sense of inadequacy and self-doubt seem to go with the territory. I take heart from the fact I feel the same way as famous, published writers do! But there’s something else that none of the writers mention that I think is important. They all talk about ‘needing’ to write, which I understand,. but few seem to mention doing it because its enjoyable and fun. I made a decision when I started writing a novel that no matter what happened, I would do it because I enjoyed it. And I still am – loving every minute of it. Maybe my mindset will change if/when I ever get to the publication stage.

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