My name is Sheryl and I’m a writer, and I lack confidence.
I was somewhat insecure before I started trying to get published. Even now, after two published books under my belt, and a third being looked at by an editor, I seem more insecure than ever. For example, what would you call it when an author stays up half the night surfing the net for a glimpse of her book titles? (Besides self-absorbed, narcissistic, or someone with much too much time on her hands?)
The paradox is, despite all the insecurity, a writer’s fondest wish is to be read. It may not be the entire reason one puts words on a page, but it is up there with, “I write because I have to. Even if nobody reads my words, I have to keep going.” For me, the desire to be read is above the “have to write” reason. I can go days, even weeks, without putting one word on a page. I guess that means I’m more of a commercial writer, the kind that, well, let’s be candid, needs a reward for the effort. Not necessarily a financial reward, although that’s not to be taken lightly; no, I write because I want my words to be read.
There. I’ve said it. It’s out in the open. I write because I want readers. I realized it the minute my sister first quoted something I had written in my high school diary. I never kept my diary locked up with the key around my neck. I left it—just a school scribbler, really, but filled with my teen angst — lying around the house, with big black letters scrawled across it—Personal Diary, Keep Out! If that’s not the best way to get somebody to read your diary then I‘d like to know a better one. (No, seriously, tell me.)
So, now you know the sad truth. I’m hooked on seeing my name in virtual lights. The thrill of knowing my book is in a library catalog from a place called Shenandoah is exceeded only by seeing the date it is due back. That means it’s actually in someone’s hands, being read! If the book is still earmarked, available, my heart droops. I picture my little book squished between bigger, fatter, more popular ones on that library shelf, pining for someone to reach out for it, take it home, and sit up half the night to finish it.
I want it being read, people. (Hear me roar?) On the other hand, if you do read it, please don’t tell me if you think it’s awful. I’m too insecure. But if you happen to have nothing better to do on a sleepless night, why not Google, Out of the Shadows by Sheryl Leonard, or To the Wilderness and Back. Be my guest!