Sunday, January 29, 2006

seeds of self-doubt

The limited feedback I have been getting from "Year of the Dog" has made me all a-bloom. The garden of my ego has blossomed to new splendor-- my work might actually be loved, appreciated and respected. Heck, I might even be a successful, well-known author/illustrator.

But, small things, like frost in the night, creep in. A patronizing message on a message board. A tepid review calling my book "comfortable." The disinterest of relatives because it's "kid's things." An innocent e-mail asking where to get my book as it is not stocked anywhere. These small things water the seeds of self-doubt, encouraging them to grow into dominating weeds.

The balance between pride and humbleness is hard to accomplish. As satisfaction fills me and the feeling of self-importance does not seem so unreasonable, the whispers begin. "Who do you think you are?" it scoffs, "You think you're all that? Please don't make me laugh."

For low self-esteem and insecurity has plagued me and pushed me. You'll never get published. You can't make a living on children's books. No one is going to like your books. You're never going to make it. Fear of failure made me want to prove that I could do what was doubted. Yet, the same impetus that pushed me to work harder is the same force that won't allow me to feel peace or pride with my endeavors.

Robert, of course, has been the great equalizer. Whenever the secret demons push me to dejection, he shines a light on them. "When are you going to be as proud of yourself as I am of you?" he says to me and the tears burn in my eyes. And, I realize that the demons are just rabbits sneaking into the garden. I'll probably never get rid of them, but I can't stop trying to grow flowers because they steal a bit of lettuce.

3 Comments:

Blogger karmabeatrice said...

Be careful of the "disinterest of relatives" comment. We promote your books to everyone around us and give them away as presents. Even though we don't send you a telegram about every time we promote your books or every comment that gets made, know that your family is very interested in your success.

Like you, we are very very busy people. It's not like we hear from you every time Lily hits a milestone or Ki-Ki finishes a webpage.

Anyways, if you are writing/illustrating books just for compliments and approval from everyone, then you need to rethink why you're in the business.

We we always love you and be behind you - even though you can't see us.

12:28 PM  
Blogger Grace Lin said...

I didn't say I was talking about YOU, my goodness!

But you are right, compliments and approvals are pretty superficial and shallow--not why I am doing what I am doing. I was trying to convey how no matter where I am or what I have accomplished the insecurity never goes away, something that I thought would happen after I was published.

I guess it's like people who have low self-esteem about their appearance. They get plastic surgery, but still feel ugly. It's something internal that you have to come to terms with.

1:03 PM  
Blogger Book Voyages said...

The Year of the Dog is a delightful book. I recently reviewed it for episode 12 of my podcast about children's literature, Book Voyages. I've also sent it to the members of the adoption agency my wife and I are using, because many of the children from that agency come from China and feel like Pacy. It's hard to find a book about kids that feel a little different, especially one that deals with the subject both positively and with humor. I'm hoping the best for the sales of your book because I want it to be in print when my daughter is old enough to read it!

Art

9:27 AM  

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