Pull back the curtain and see how a suspense writer puts the thrills and chills together.


Hello Dear Readers,

Please bear with me. I had a cutesy, fun blog post all planned for today about delayed gratification. But I’m just not feeling it. (I’ll post it next week, I promise.)

Today I’m wondering where my confidence went. I don’t seem to have it about anything these days. (Well, not exactly true–I’m confident I can do my day job well, but that’s about it.) My editor sent me a note about my novel the other day. He’s not quite ready to send me his comments on the manuscript, but he wanted me to know how much he loves the book. He referred to it as a “career changer”, and this isn’t a guy given to effusiveness. But instead of puffing up with pride and thinking, “I knew he’d love it! It’s a great book and I worked hard on it,” my first thought was, “Really? I didn’t think it would be his thing.”

I’m even having my doubts about kickboxing. I feel like a bit of a fraud, because I’m encouraging another student at my club and telling her to have more confidence in her abilities, when I don’t have confidence in my own. I know I’ve been away from it for awhile, so I shouldn’t be so hard on myself, but every Level 2 class shows me just how far I have to go this year and how many bad habits I’ve picked up. Pardon my French, but I feel like a dumb ass. Every time. Don’t get me wrong–I value the criticism, and I obviously need it. I really want to get better. But sometimes I can’t help thinking, “do I belong here?”

My kru wants to make sure that I am really, really serious about training for the green prajioud and the fall fight camp before we begin. I can understand that. If I seem all gung-ho but then wimp out halfway through, I’ve wasted a lot of people’s time–not just mine and my kru’s, but all my training partners’ as well. And I’m sure it’s not great for morale to see a teammate simply give up. Objectively, I can completely understand his concern.

But then that niggling self-doubt starts whispering in my ear. Is he trying to talk me out of this? Is this his nice way of saying “quit now, before you kill yourself”? And if so, is he right?

When I was a kid, my mom was fond of saying that I could never finish anything. I would start plenty of projects, but always grow bored with them and quit. Now here I am, an adult with multiple long relationships in her past, jobs that she’s stayed with for at least several years, a few finished novels, and a red armband. And I still worry that I’m the girl who can’t finish anything, who doesn’t have staying power.

My kru warned me that to enter into this training lightly is to literally take my life in my hands. And I get that. I really do. I’ve read about the woman who was permanently brain-damaged during her very first fight. And worse. It’s stories like that that deterred me from fighting all these years.

I’m not sure where my confidence went, but I’d sure like to get it back…before it’s too late.

Has this ever happened to you, Dear Readers? If so, how did you find your inner strength again?

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  1. Chris

    It’s happened to me in the past. Luckily I’ve had an understanding, supportive girlfriend who’s helped build me up again. 🙂

    There are two kinds of confidence crises: ones related to a specific skill/job/etc., and ones of an overall nature. As much as other people can help with the first one, I think solutions have to come from within. If you have doubts about your ability to do something well or stick with it, the best way to get your confidence back is to remind yourself of previous successes and then practise until you can do it well.

    For overall issues of confidence, it’s often others who make us doubt ourselves in a fundamental way, often back in childhood. That’s a lot harder to escape, but a supportive network of friends can make it easier.

    You, Holli, are awesome. You can accomplish any goal you choose. You are an exceptionally strong person. You will kick ass, and you will get your green armband.

    The next time you hear a cowardly voice inside you tell you that you can’t do something, tell it to go #%*@ itself. Who’s stronger: that weak voice that hasn’t accomplished anything, or the beautiful, brilliant, powerful woman who has written multiple novels, kicked butt at her day job, and successfully trained for the red armband – and passed on her first try!

    You are awesome. Accept it. 🙂

  2. Story Teller

    @ Chris – thanks so much for your kind, loving comment, which had many helpful insights, too.

    I’m not sure why I’m feeling so down these days, but I can’t imagine how much worse it would be if you weren’t in my corner. Love you.

  3. Julius Csotonyi

    I’m with Chris on this one. And I think there’s often a connection between being successful or talented on the one hand, and doubting ourselves on the other. You’re one of my most successful and active friends, Holli! Your diverse adventures are inspiring, from kickboxing to writing novels, to going on writing retreats and meeting interesting people, to maintaining a blog, which are only the few with which I am familiar through your blog. That’s pretty awesome in itself!

    I have seen in others and experienced this kind of doubt that you describe, and it’s a terrible lashing that it can exert on our self image. I know whet it’s like to feel like I’m secretly advising others to “do as I say, not as I do”, or to feel shriveled and uncertain about my future success (or rather, certain about its failure!) in the shadow of another person that I consider to be more impressive than myself in some skill (paleoart in my case). It’s a nasty feeling, but now that it’s happened repeatedly, I’ve begun to attempt to treat it with a detached objective observation, with the knowledge (even if I don’t truly believe it at the time) that it WILL pass, that it is simply a “disturbance in the force” (insert heavy mechanical breathing for dramatic effect) whose ripples I must stolidly ride out until they diminish.

    Along with this, I find that it’s really important to listen to those who care for you (e.g. Chris!), because they remind you of those peaks that you have climbed but that are temporarily behind the fog from your vantage point. It’s amazing how easily those mountains can hide at times.

    I think that really exceptional people often experience an arms race of sorts with their own expectations, which can make one a little disoriented about one’s own abilities. But don’t doubt them. If you feel enthused about something, plunge in after it. When I feel doubtful about trying something that I would really like to do, it helps to remember that this is THE life I’m living, and dammit, nothing will get in my way of enjoying it! 🙂

  4. Wayne

    I agree with Chris that was very well said.
    You know you want the green arm band, don’t let that voice or anyone else talk you out of it. You can do it, I have seen you train you are more than capable of passing the test.
    I think that everyone has had their moments of doubt in their life, but if it’s something you truly want do not let anything discourage you.
    Don’t worry about the test, you will have a great training session ahead of you, by the time the test comes you will be a completely different fighter, and will be ready for anything. Once you pass the test, which will be the hardest test of your life, you will know that nothing is capable of stopping you.

  5. Story Teller

    Your comments mean the world to me, Julius and Wayne. Thank you!

    @ Julius–you’re pretty accomplished and adventurous yourself, Dr. Marine Biologist/Paleoartist! You give good advice. I hope I get to the point you’re at, when I can shrug these feelings off as just a disturbance in the force. 🙂 Welcome back to the blog–I’ve missed you.

    @ Wayne – I am so honored that you think I am up to passing the test, and I really value your encouragement that by the time the test comes, I will be ready. Thanks so much for posting.


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