On Confidence...Or the Lack Thereof

Writing is a funny thing.

Sometimes, I feel like Superwoman. On these rare days, I can look at my manuscript and think, Hey, this ain't so bad! It might be sort of good! Maybe!

Other times, I feel like the Worst Writer to walk the Earth. This is when I shut down my laptop and refuse to open Word for days because just looking at my book makes me cringe.

In the past two months, I have been both Superwoman and the Worst Writer Ever. One week, I'd walk everywhere with a little bounce in my step, because I loved my book and I was proud of the work I put into it and---gosh darn it---I was going to send it to my agent right this minute!

But then, in the next week, I'd slump into Slumpy McSlumpsville. I'd stare at my manuscript until my eyes blurred because I had no idea how to fix this mess of words. It got to a point where I had to take a break from it and work on something new because my brain was a confusing place to be.

(Off topic: Would anyone like to swap brains?)

What?! You don't want to swap brains with me?

It's strange going from a place where I had buckets of confidence to a place where I couldn't squeeze a drop from it from my body.

And then came the Email of Hope:

My agent read my book! And he didn't hate it! In fact, he seemed to even like it!

So, for the past few days, I've been walking with that same bounce in my step once again. I can do this! I tell myself. I'm not an awful writer! Let's eat some cake to celebrate!

*Commences eating of cake*

Evil murderess or cake aficionado?

But...this whole experience has got me thinking.
Will I ever reach an equilibrium of confidence? As in, will I ever reach a point where I won't need an Email of Hope to make me feel confident in my writing?  
Or is this roller coaster of emotions simply a part of the writerly journey? 
Right now, I'm leaning toward the latter. As much as I'd like to believe that my confidence levels will go up the more that I write, I can't help but suspect that I'll make many return visits to the Pit of Despair with every novel I pull out of my brain. (Poor Brain.) Part of this is because of me. See, self-confidence doesn't come to me naturally. It's something I have to strive for continually and more often not I lean on my friends for that extra boost.

But I don't think I'm alone in feeling this way.

On blogs, on Twitter, I've been amazed to read about other writers---many of whom have published multiple books---who experience a similar confidence roller coaster. I read their happy posts when they've finished a draft, and I read their frustrated tweets when they just don't think they're any good.

And this surprises me because, when I started to write seriously, I sort of thought that my confidence levels would simply go up and up. I viewed the whole process like a stepping stone: I'd get a little more confident when I got an agent, then more when I got a book deal, then more with every subsequent success. Yet, what I've learned from my published friends is that there's always something new to worry about. Like sales numbers. Marketing. School tours. Writing sequels under tight deadlines. And selling more books in a tough marketplace.

Sometimes you just need a hug.
Go hug a writer already!

This post is getting pretty long, huh? Haha. And I don't even know if it has a point! But I guess what I'm trying to say is this....

In a crazy world like publishing, you have to find some level of confidence within yourself. You can't rely on your friends or your agent or your editor to do that for you. You have to believe in your work and you have to believe in you.

At the same time, confidence will ebb and flow. It's the nature of this competitive business. Sometimes we're going to feel like amazingly awesome writing warriors who can conquer publishing with each competitor we behead. I mean, with each book we write. But, sometimes, we'll feel like Slumpy. And we'll wear pajamas for weeks. And we won't brush our hair. Okay, maybe we'll brush our hair.

It's just all part of the business.