As writers we are own worst critics a lot of times, and to make matters worse, there are individuals out there that will get in line to help us with that. Sometimes it can be the ones closest to us and who mean well like family and friends. Sometimes it can be someone off the street we don’t even know.
Self doubt and limiting, destructive beliefs are the killers of every dream known to man. Every artist in every art form gets a case of it now and again, but the successful ones are the ones who can shake it off, pull up their boot straps, and reinforce the alligator or gar skin. Crocodilians and gar fish have some of the toughest skin on the planet–natural armor if you will that can withstand animal attacks and gunshots. There is only a small vulnerable spot, and it’s not easy to get to whilst trying to avoid the business end!
This means to be able to keep on going and not sell ourselves short in more meanings of the phrase, but not to flaunt ourselves in arrogance. Take the criticism and fire and keep going. No one said it was easy. Even when the alligator takes an attack to the back and keeps going, doesn’t mean it didn’t feel any pain. It’s resilience and survival instinct. This is just one of the secrets to why it’s nature’s top predator that even man has fear of! Even a bear doesn’t stand a chance to an alligator!
Some of life’s hard lessons have taught me a thing or two about dream killing doubt and beliefs before professional writing, but I had to survive somehow. We have tussled with this in other things we have done in the past, even at our first job when we had our confidence tested by the petulant customer who couldn’t be pleased no matter if we could walk on water to correct the problem. The one who could make you quit and never return to your job, but you had to keep trucking on or else never work again. Then what after that if we did?
That is not to say anyone cannot improve. That is the case with any craft; writing is simply one of the few where there is really no such things as “masters” of it. Even great art can be improved, but you must have substance and belief in something if it will be improved. You can’t improve nothing; a potter can’t make a vase out of thin air; he needs clay.
Knowing your worth will also keep you from selling yourself second best when there are better options out there in today’s maze-like publishing world with pitfalls to boot. It is just like playing Pitfall. Did Pitfall Harry sell himself short and allow himself to hop across crocodile heads, run across tar pits, and swing on vines to collect the little rewards before hitting the motherlode? I doubt it. Doubt and limiting beliefs would have made him a croc’s midday snack. The end.
Sometimes the road can be lonely and the hike is like that of Olympus Mons, the largest mountain of the solar system (Mount Everest is 3x smaller and yesterday’s news)–why am I doing this? One can only find out by not quitting. No one ever said success of any kind was a bed of roses the entire way. Everyone has had their beds of thorns along the way.
Believing yourself and your talent and the resilience to carry on and stay true to your vision are the secrets to your alligator skin, but you must take care of it. Reinforce the weakness and bolster the chinks. The alligator doesn’t “let it go” or else it would fail when it needed it’s armor the most!
Here is also something else we can learn from the alligator–cannibalism. We shouldn’t be using our strong jaws and death roll to cannibalize and rip apart other authors just so we can be the alpha gator. Don’t use the greatness to tear others’ limbs and jaws off. The water is big enough to swim together!