I’m Worse Than A Seventh Grader Hiding In A Bathroom Stall

Junior high was a painful time for me. Incredibly painful. Like, braces-and-glasses-and-bad-shag-haircut painful. I would post a picture, but seriously, I just wouldn’t sleep tonight knowing that kind of image was on the loose, flying around the internet for all to see. And if I’m totally honest, you probably wouldn’t sleep either. Not with something that frightening burned into your retinas.

Eesh.

So anyway, I was insecure in junior high. I realize I’m in good company here as everyone suffers from some degree of hideousness during their tween years, but I really think I might have been one of the worst. I used to go to the bathroom during class just to get away from my classmates because I worried so much about their opinions of me. I hated P.E. because I felt like my shorts and tennis shoes highlighted my flamingo-like legs and clown-sized feet. And dances?

Oh, don’t even go there.

I spent most of my time on the dance floor laughing too loud at someone’s joke in an attempt to look relaxed, or lingering by the punch table because I wasn’t sure who to talk to, or – you guessed it – hiding in the bathroom stall just to get a break from the stress of the whole thing.

And you know what? Not much has changed.

Oh, I’m not nearly as skinny as I was then, which is actually a very good thing (no more flamingo legs!). I no longer wear the ugly gold-rimmed glasses I wore back then, and I don’t have braces anymore, and my hair doesn’t look like a cross between Carol Brady and Hermione Granger.

(I know that kind of hairstyle cross-breeding doesn’t sound possible and is probably very difficult to imagine, but just trust me on this one. It happened.)

No, there aren’t nearly as many body issues now as there were then, but still I find myself suffering from sometimes crippling bouts of insecurity. Especially now, as The Clearing will be coming out in a few short weeks. Questions bounce all around inside my head: Will everyone like it? Will anyone like it? Is this part too boring? Is this part too cheesy? What about the voice? Will everyone think it’s stupid?

I started writing The Clearing in August of 2008, and I’ve just read it through for the first time since I finished it sometime in 2009. I’ve grown so much as a writer, which is both a good and bad thing: Good in that I’ve improved so much, but bad in that a part of me wants to go back and rewrite the whole thing.

Sure, there are things I would do differently now if I were writing it for the first time. But I can’t go back and do it all again. There’s no time, and anyway, as soon as I finished rewriting it I would read it again and think: Nah, this isn’t good enough. I’ve grown as a writer again.

If you’re a writer, you know it’s never good enough. We can edit and revise and rework until the day we die, and it’s never good enough. Every time you read it with fresh eyes, you see things you want to change. I’ve got two pages of small edits I want to do before the book is available for purchase, and believe me when I say, those two pages? Tip of the iceberg, my friends.

Don’t get me wrong; it’s good. It’s really good. I say that not to brag, but to show you that I do have some confidence in my work. I absolutely love the story I’ve crafted, and deep down, I know a lot of other people will love it too. It’s just that I suffer from the same doubts as anyone else: How will other people judge my work?

What about you? Do you find yourself feeling slightly embarrassed at the thought of other people reading your stories? Does part of you want to go hide in the bathroom stall until it’s over? Or are you that enviable person with no qualms about it whatsoever? I’m interested to hear your thoughts!

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21 thoughts on “I’m Worse Than A Seventh Grader Hiding In A Bathroom Stall

  1. TERI REES WANG says:

    Yes.

    I think it comes down to interpretation.
    I know my mind, I manage my ideas the way I choose, and my thought process is proudly my own. I appreciate my own creative genius, but that does not lend proof that others will see it, feel it, live it the same as I do.

    Still, thanks for saying what you feel about you.

    Cheers!

  2. J. Koyanagi says:

    I hear you loud and clear on the bathroom stall lunches. That was high school for me, especially after having moved to a new state my sophomore year.

    Amazing how those insecurities can linger. For what it’s worth, I’m genuinely excited to read The Clearing and don’t doubt it’s going to be fantastic.

  3. Alexandra Shostak says:

    I don’t think I’ll ever 100% give up hiding in the bathroom!

    I was an ugly duckling in middle school, too (though 6th grade was the WORST) and I didn’t grow out of it until I was… probably like 18. Speaking of confidence, I just had a self-pity fest over missing out on a chance with a guy because I’m too shy, so it comes and bites you no matter where you are.

    If you do need to hide in the bathroom, I won’t blame you. But I hope I get to walk in there, knock on the stall, and pull you back to the dance floor because everyone loves THE CLEARING! 🙂

    1. Anne Riley says:

      Haha thanks Alexandra! And ahhh, that shyness, it’ll get you every time won’t it? Oh well. Next time, honey.

  4. Alissa says:

    Authors seem to be naturally insecure people. I’ve yet to meet one that doesn’t have major doubts about their work on a regular basis, and that includes me. Revisions are a good thing, but there comes a point when you have done all the revising you can do and you just have to let your book be.

    1. Anne Riley says:

      Yes – and I think that’s what I struggle with the most. Letting my book be. I still want to rip it apart with a machete and start all over. Ugh.

  5. Lisa Potts says:

    Hey, we could have been stall buddies, talking to each other while perusing the lovely graffiti above the toilet paper holder.

    Between acne and moving around a lot I pretty much felt like a pariah until I turned seventeen and had my first “real” boyfriend.

    If it makes you feel any better, I’m like 99.9999% sure the book is great and I plan on finding out as soon as possible.

  6. Dana Elmendorf says:

    I’ve read on many published authors blogs that this phobia, fear and intense need to re-edit never ends. Get used to it now my dear. It’s a dreadful state and you know what, some people will hate it and others will dream of it. Just like you have, on some of the books you’ve read. But with heart like you have, it can’t fail. Good luck. I’m marking my calendar.

  7. DL Hammons says:

    I’m beginning to think that if the bouts of insecurity ever disappear, that’s when arrogance takes hold and your writing goes stale. Trust your instincts and let the rest take care of itself. 🙂

    1. Anne Riley says:

      Ooooh interesting thought. I like it! And really, I think you might be right. A certain degree of insecurity is healthy.

    1. Anne Riley says:

      YES! It’s terrifying. Completely. It’s like putting on a bikini in front of a bunch of strangers and letting them point out all your supposed “flaws.”

  8. Alicia B says:

    Once upon a time I could have called myself an artist. I know the feeling about the insecurities and the need for tweeking. It comes in all forms. I can still to this day look at a work I spent days or weeks on years and years ago and find all the things I would keep changing in it.

    It’s not very helpful but at least you know you’re not alone! Besides, if you were able to settle then you wouldn’t be the creative genius you are!

      1. Ann Best says:

        I have to look back 55 years to those days you describe here!! I remember them, but they ARE long ago and far away. Seems like a different world ago. But I feel some trepidation as you express with my own book soon to be published. I think I would have been terrified if I were younger; now I’m just mildly anxious!!!

        I appreciate your sharing your thoughts and feelings. They have taken me back….
        Ann Best, Author

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