The Secret of the Poor Loser

Why do we second-guess ourselves? Why do I? There’s this online writing class that I have been debating with myself about signing up for. One minute I’m clicking on the link to sign myself up and the next minute I’m up out of my chair and walking away from the computer. Because I’m scared to commit to this class. So why am I doing this?

I tell myself that I’m worried that I won’t have the time to complete the assignments since I’m home all day with the kids. It’s true, but there are a few hours in the day when my husband is home and I can sneak away to write.

I tell myself that I will have major writer’s block and sit in front of my computer with a brain empty of ideas. Or that any ideas I have will be lame or over-done or clichéd.

I tell myself these things, but they aren’t the reason I can’t bring myself to commit to this class. I don’t want to suck. That’s the reason. I always try and play it safe and do things I know I will succeed at. Because I’m a poor loser. As my husband can attest to when we played Russian Monopoly together the first time (yes, I said Russian Monopoly) and I upended the game board in his face upon losing. Since he has done this as well, we laughed about it later. Still doesn’t change the fact that I hate to lose.

I’ve never taken a writing class online. I’m old in regards to the Internet since it was just gaining popularity while I was completing college. But I’m not blind to the way the Internet has broken down communication. This idea is an entire blog post waiting to happen. Another time. But I’ve received peer criticism of my writing in person – as in face-to-face – and it wasn’t very pleasant. I can only imagine the horror of hearing what people will have to say now that they will never have to look me in the eyes while they are ripping my stuff to shreds.

That’s losing to me. Being ripped to shreds by your peers. I know I’m smart. I’ve been known to even have a good idea or two. I know I’m a decent writer. I have some confidence in these areas. That’s the secret of the Poor Loser, though. S/he can make you second-guess yourself. “You’re good, but what if you lose this one time?You know you hate losing! You might embarrass yourself royally. Don’t do it!” It’s the Poor Loser whispering in my ear, making me want to walk away without trying.

There is, however, one thing the Poor Loser hasn’t quite figured out about me. There is one thing I hate even more than losing. Being told what to do.

So tell me not to do it. I dare you! (Please?)


4 thoughts on “The Secret of the Poor Loser

  1. Do it! You should see how nice it will be not to look them in the eye. If you don’t like something- you can delete it. You don’t have to look them back in the eye. Do it! Do it! Do it!!!

  2. Umm, so I’m with Goldie up there. I went to an author signing recently and I asked her, in a round-about way, what one needs to have done before writing. She said that there’s no one way; that everyone’s different. The only thing she hates to see is people who spend years building backstory of characters and setting and religion and social system and on and on and on, and never get to writing. Scared is okay, but if you’re ever going to get it out there, as writers we have to know that there will be people who won’t like it. Critics are always there, and you cannot ever please everyone. One piece of advice to consider, as you well know, is that the writer writes to please herself.
    I know what you mean by the peer feedback bit; it can blow. I know of drafts that I send a writing group and they come back bleeding. At the end of the day we know that there will always be critics, and our drafts will always bleed. And we’ll never be perfect. In fact, it brings to mind a wonderful quotation by Churchill, who said, “The maxim, ‘Nothing but perfection,’ may be spelled ‘paralysis.'” Perfect doesn’t exist. It’s a false ideal that we all stupidly spend inane spurts of time trying to achieve. The more we try to be “perfect,” the more we cripple ourselves.
    This I know you’re aware of, but little nudges from friends never hurt. Stop making excuses. You’re going to join the group, you’re going to submit stuff, you’re going to critique and be critiqued, and your writing and your comments are both going to suck and be great. Let it go. Just write.

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