Running from insecurity

forest run

A few things happened this week.

On Monday, we flew back to the Netherlands with a little girl who had a temperature. She lay in bed for twelve or more hours, listening to Charlie & The Chocolate Factory and generally feeling horrible.

A day later, the other little girl lay in bed, waking up every couple of hours to vomit. I sat next to her writing, and building a website for a new writing business.

When not look after sickly children, I ran through the forest, and around the forest. Running, I felt good. My mood lifted and inspiring thoughts flooded my mind.

I think I was trying to run something off. An icky feeling. It wasn’t a temperature, and it wasn’t a vomit bug. It was a sort of… insecurity… bred from being out of my comfort zone, living in a foreign country. Bred also from lack of consistent work, and a general vague feeling of uncertainty.

I wrote last week about self-doubt, and how self-doubt is a regular friend of mine. I think, in truth, this self-doubt, and ongoing insecurity has been manifesting since my book came out last year.

And it’s not that the book hasn’t done well. It has. It was well-reviewed, and I have received so many lovely messages about it. I know that mostly people who buy the book like it, and that’s such a lovely feeling.

But there is an unexpected feeling that comes with sending a book, or any major creative project into the world.

It’s like everything you’ve been working towards, and dreaming about has happened, and… life goes on.

As you know, I made as big a song and dance about my book launch as possible. I tried to avoid the feeling of a slow fizzle by making my own bang. But the month of the book launch took a lot out of me, and I definitely experienced a comedown, coming home to a quiet little sunshine house.

I filled the gap with new manuscripts, booking tickets for overseas and a fantasy search for real estate in rural north coast. But the vague feeling lingered.

Earlier in the week, I read an article by my bloggy friend, Jodi Gibson on Huff Post about the other side of living your passions. Life goes on, Jodi says. Kids still fight. Laundry still piles up. Nothing major changes internally or externally. Yes you are living your dreams, but that doesn’t necessarily make you feel different.

I chatted over email with a friend about this recently. She too has a book out, and hers has done really, really well. And yet…that insecurity chases her too.

Is this the payoff for living a creative life?

The trouble with insecurity is that it seeps into other corners of my life. In school, I worried so much about whether people liked me or not. It’s something I grew out of, on the whole, feeling confident and secure in my adult friendships. Taking things less personally if a slight does occur. Having more perspective.

When generalised book insecurity seeps in, though, I start doubting all aspects of myself. Suddenly, I am reading too much into Facebook interactions, or lack of. I am suddenly worried when a person or two drops off my author page in search of better things. Have I said something wrong?

I leap out of bed every morning to consult my email, because news comes in from Australia overnight, and if I am going to get an exciting, newsy email it will be in the morning. When my inbox is quiet, I am trawling Facebook, looking for something to feel that particular gap.

Life is funny, isn’t it? I am living overseas. Living a sunshine gypsy dream, and here I am complaining about things; running around forests in a hope to run away from myself.

In the last few days, I have been building a website for a copywriting business. I told my friend about it, and I told her her about my insecurities.

‘Build your website. Put it out there. Act. God’s Dumb Waiters,’ she said.

God’s Dumb Waiters.  Standing around you are people holding the things you need to make the next move. They can’t hear you though. They don’t know what you want until you get up, and start moving around. They don’t know what you want until you act.

Running around the forest is one solution. Getting on with it, putting insecurity and doubt aside is another. Launch that website. Submit that manuscript. Enjoy the time you’ve got here, not working. Make the most of every second. Be grateful. And act.

  • I think that you put so much of your heart and soul into writing a book that it must indeed be a comedown once it is out there, and even though it now inhabits all of these unknown spaces on bookshelves and in laps and the homes and hearts of strangers, yet still your little books wandering are unknown to you now, whereas once it was so close. Much like it must be to have your children grow up, I imagine.
    I am sure that many beautiful things will be built from your insecurity, and your ever unfurling creativity. Thanks for writing, it is always a pleasure to read your words x

    • Thank you. That means a lot Dani. Yes – putting yourself out there continuously does have a payoff. But it’s still a positive thing! It’s so nice to imagine the life of my little book, doing stuff without me. Books are wonderful things like that. xx

  • Rach

    Zanni, I am in a similar position. Exciting news is sporadic and there is a lot of waiting and rejection in between (for me). It’s challenging to not allow self-doubt creep in when it all is so slow and nobody is in a hurry to get back to you. I guess the answer is in appreciating all the little moments in the day (something I haven’t mastered yet). You are on a beautiful adventure. Enjoy it all!

    • I think that is the very nature of publishing Rachel. Maybe it’s a good lesson for us, in such a fast world, to be patient, and allow good things to happen over time. So exciting your career is happening. Can’t wait to read your book. xx

      • Rach

        Oh thanks lovely. I’m just thrilled to be able to bring Hamish to the lots of people (hopefully). x

  • Is that the payoff for living a creative life? Yes. Its just something we need to accept and let sit as comfortably as possible next to it. Don’t let it steal the good times, and don’t let it take over the mundane times. Move forward and keep moving but still see,the beauty in every moment, every day. Look forward to watching your copywriting business grow, I know you’ll be fine,

    • Oh thank you Jodi. For your wisdom. For your generosity. Both my husband and I woke up this morning with a decision “Don’t let it steal the good times,” just as you say. xx

  • Love this post, Zanni. Love it xx

  • Tigerlilly

    Thinking of you lovely. Years ago my friend & I used to repeat an old saying to each other when we needed to remember, it kept us in the moment and reminded us the washing still needed to be done regardless of personal achievements. “Before enlightenment – chop wood, carry water … after enlightenment – chop wood, carry water”. Chop wood, carry water my friend.

    • Thank you lovely. That is so true!! That is going to be my mantra I think. Love it xxx

  • Anna Pignataro

    Isn’t it funny? Friends say to me , “Oh you are so lucky painting and writing all day….doing what you love, living the dream” Sometimes we don’t feel so lucky do we? We feel like we’re being left behind or doing things much later than everyone else because things are tight. The in between times are hard, sometimes they seem to go on forever but without them we wouldn’t reboot our consciousness or understand that they are just as important as the crazy happy days when you hold that fresh new book in your hand, or meet that great person that reminds you , “hey deep down I’m insecure too, but not all the time” thanks Zanni this post makes me feel connected when I’ve been feeling so ‘ not good enough’ I know now I’m not alone and it reminds me that something wonderful and exciting is just around the corner.

    • People probably find it hard to imagine that after all these years, and all those books, you could feel insecure. Look at all the beauty you’ve created! But like everyone seems to say, that sensitivity and insecurity comes part and parcel with creativity. Maybe it’s a gift? Can’t wait to see your next wonderful exciting thing xx