I’m just a little bit excited to share this Guest Post with you today (my first) by Australian Author Kate Belle .
First up though, I’d like to thank Kate for contributing this post about self doubt messing with an author’s head.
Kate is a multi-published author of dark, sensual love stories that will mess with your head. Her interests include talking to strangers, collecting unread books, and ranting about the world’s many injustices. She writes regularly about women, relationships, sexuality and books on her blog, The Ecstasy Files. She is also the creator of the Eros in Action writing sex workshop.
Kate lives, writes and loves in Melbourne with her small family and very annoying pets. The Yearning was released in 2013 to rave reviews. Being Jade is her second novel.
One of the biggest challenges a writer has to tackle – at any point in their career – is self doubt.
It’s a nasty little sucker, sneaking in between your ribs, squeezing its way into your brain, boring into your confidence like a torrent of termites, until one day you sit down to write and feel as though the whole story is collapsing around you. It causes you to question everything. Words you thought sang yesterday now sound hollow. Your characters seem weak, tiresome, dull and the plot drags and clings like wet clothes.
Self doubt leads us into the frightening and murky territory of self judgement, self criticism and comparisons with others. It’s hard not to do, given we live in a culture where we are bombarded with images of what we should look like/be/do/feel in order to be acceptable. There are so many others out there who are better looking, better writers, better at self promotion, more visible, more important, more articulate than we are – right? Who are we to think we can participate in that world? Who are we to even think we have something to contribute?
Succumbing to self doubt is as suffocating as drowning in quick sand. The more you struggle with it the deeper you sink, until you realise fighting is fruitless and you give up and slowly descend into despair. Every person who has embarked on pursuing their ‘dream’, has taken a risk and dared to do something they’ve always wanted to do, has been there. But those who have managed to achieve incredible things in spite of it show the rest of us self doubt can be beaten.
Throughout the writing of Being Jade Self Doubt was a constant companion. Anyone close to me during the last few months of 2013 will tell you what a struggle it was to write. Ten years ago I would have given up, but now I’m a little bit smarter now and have a few tricks up my sleeve I’d like to share. These little gems are old as the philosophers who came up with them. They might not work for everyone, but they certainly helped me achieve something that seemed unachievable twelve months ago, so I hope they will help others.
Feel the fear and do it anyway
This is the title of a book by Susan Jeffers I read about 15 years ago and the title really stuck with me. The old adage – there is nothing to fear but fear itself – isn’t always true (especially if you find yourself down a dead end dark alley surrounded by rabid rats) but is a useful reminder that we often magnify our fears beyond what the actual risk or threat is. Fear is a natural human emotion. Sometimes its function is to protect us from danger. Often it’s preventing us from taking a perceived risk which really isn’t a risk at all. Fear can create pressure, and under pressure we often discover qualities and capacities we never knew we had.
It’s only pain – let it hurt
This I learned from my Iyengar yoga teacher in the 1990’s. Yoga can be extremely challenging to both body and mind. Part of the practice is to learn to overcome the mind’s tendency to avoid discomfort. Once I got myself into a strong pose the challenge was then to hold it, in spite of my mind saying ‘Let go, this is uncomfortable, this stretch hurts, LET GO!’ The more I practiced the more I understood how my mind controlled me, instead of the other way around. Yoga taught me to have a different relationship to discomfort, to not waste time avoiding it, especially if it was preventing me from doing something new or difficult. I learned that difficult experiences are part of life and that living through them, working with them, can reap enormous rewards.
You’re not on fire
One of the consequences of self doubt can be panic, a debilitating sense of being out of your depth and beyond your skill and comfort levels. Three months after my daughter was born I was consumed by this feeling. Having been a capable employee and person for many years, the chaos of a baby threw me completely. I lost confidence, became anxious and developed post natal depression. At my worst I was ringing a hospital psychologist every day afraid I was going to fall apart completely. After putting up with these calls for a few days she finally said (very firmly I might add) ‘You’re not on fire, Kate. Nothing terrible is happening. There is no disaster. You are safe. Your baby is safe. You can get on top of this. You just have to want to.’
I’m a firm believer in tough love and this was exactly the kind of tough love I needed. ‘You just have to want to’ put me back in charge. Until then I thought the panic and the depression was in control. Realising it was me holding the wheel gave me the sense of power and determination I needed to battle my way out of the depression. Ever since, if I feel panic seeping into my consciousness, I remind myself who’s the boss and take charge.
Kate likes to connect with her fans, and you’re welcome to do so by following the below links:
About the Book
A tragic death. A family divided. One truth can set them free.
Banjo Murphy is killed on the night he finally musters the courage to walk away from his wife Jade after twenty five years of repeated infidelities. In the aftermath, Banjo is bewildered to discover he still exists, but death has placed an invisible wall between him and his beloved family. In despair he watches Jade collapse into deep depression and his daughters, Lissy and Cassandra, struggle with their unexpected loss.
Lissy is tortured by guilt and the mysteries surrounding her father’s death. What compelled Banjo to leave the night he died? Why won’t Jade speak about what happened? In spite of their volatile relationship, Lissy believes her parents’ love to be enduring, but sensible Cassandra sees things differently. When Cassy discovers a sketch book chronicling Jade’s extra-marital affairs, the truth of their parents’ relationship begins to unfold and Lissy’s loyalties are divided.
Searching for answers, Lissy contacts Jade’s ex-lovers, unaware her father’s spirit watches as they visit. Unable to let go of his one true love, he aches to know that Jade loved him above all others. Banjo is taken on a journey of discovery through Jade’s memories as the lovers unveil long hidden secrets about her affairs. But the mystery remains, frustrating Banjo and Lissy, until Lissy’s questioning leads her to an explosive truth. One that will finally set her family free.
READ THE FIRST CHAPTER FOR FREE HERE.
Being Jade is available for purchase from the following links: