One of the traits of being a writer (at least for me – I’m not sure if it holds universally true) is that you spend an awful lot of time wondering if you’re any good. I heard someone say that “all good artists constantly doubt themselves” and I hope that’s true, because there are times, when the words feel like they’ve tied themselves up in knots, that I honestly think I have no business being in this industry at all.
I suppose to someone who doesn’t write, it can all seem a little narcacistic, but in this industry affirmation and re-affirmation of talent are incredibly important. It might just be that most writers are quivering wrecks of self-doubt and self-loathing – I seem to do both of those very well – but it might be that good writers push themselves well beyond reasonable expectation, and as a result the finished result can feel like a disappointment.
This is why those little moments of validation are important. Whether it be a personalised comment on a rejection (One on mine that said “You can obviously write” is still a source of validation when things get tough), or a nice comment about a story you’ve put online, it all helps with those days when you just feel you have no place being a writer.
So with that in mind, I’d like to thank those of you who nominated Sci-Fi Art for a British Fantasy Award. It was a tremendous shock when it was announced (I think Sam Sykes might have had to verbally slap me) and whilst I genuinely knew it would get no further than a nomination, just that was an incredible validation.
And then last week, the BFS announce some little web badges for those that won, were short-listed and were nominated. It’s a little thing, just a little made up web graphic, but it came at a time when I was deep in edits and wondering whether I was just fooling myself with this “writing lark”. Needless to say, it snapped me out of my depression and put a smile on my face. More importantly it made me dive back into those edits with renewed vigour.
So thank you. Seriously, if you nominated the book, I really, really appreciate it. It’s taught me that if you are able to vote or nominate in any awards, you really should. Yes, it may be that whatever you personally liked won’t get further than a nomination, but those nominations mean the world to a writer who’s knee-deep in work and having one of those periods of self-doubt. I’ve made a point of nominating books and stories I’ve really enjoyed this last year and I hope that any nominations that come the authors’ way give them the same lift I got when I got mine. It’s simple to do and it can mean the world to those of us who try and push and stretch ourselves.