Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Insecure Writer's Support Group

Alex J. Cavanuagh is our host for the Insecure Writer's Support Group which post on the first Wednesday of the month. To read what other writers have said go here.

Last month I discovered the Insecure Writer's Support Group on Alex J. Cavanaugh's blog and decided to participate. At this stage in my writing career I am published via the e-format and I am also offering writing classes. Some of you may ask; what do you have to be insecure about?

I'm certain that a person never completely outgrows their insecurities. (Unless you are among the few people who don't have many insecurities in the first place.) This writer's support group is a way to share my own insecurities and hopefully encourage others. Just my cup of tea, to quote a great cliché. So, with no further delay here is the major insecurity of my life.

When I was a child, I was switched from my left hand to my right hand by my teacher. To compound this problem, the school system adopted the 'whole learning program,' the same year. If you aren't familiar with the 'whole learning program' it basically states if you read to a child enough they will learn to read. No more phonics, it confuses children. BIG MISTAKE! This program continued in the American public school system even when my own children were in elementary school. I think they are now offering both phonics and whole learning, since children learn differently.

When my siblings brought home their report cards every subject was an A. (For those of you who don't know, that is the best grade you can get.) When I brought home my report card it was all D's & F's except art class. That is the worst grade you can get. Fortunately my parents didn't punish me but they did have lengthy discussions about what was wrong with me. Many of those conversations I overheard.

By the time third grade came along the school had decided that I was brain damaged and should be institutionalized. (1950's mentality.) But that summer my mother had had me evaluated and learned that I had been left handed and switched. She told the school that no brain damaged child could draw as well as I did. Then she taught me phonics herself. In 4th grade I received my first ever 100% correct spelling test. I ran all the way home and jumped into my mother's arms.

So why does this translate into insecurity? Because it was openly discussed that there was something wrong with me. Because I never understood English Grammar and I still don't. Because my siblings were given an intelligence test and were told they were geniuses and I was not allowed to take that test. Because to this very day my family treats me as if I am stupid. No kidding.

There are moments of clarity that occur for me in my writing. When I finish a chapter or a short flash fiction piece and think; man I'm good. But it is short lived. I could receive 100 fabulous reviews on my book and it will always be the one terrible review that will eat at me. I'm pretty sure most writers are the same way with reviews. I would love to overcome this insecurity. It would mean less stomach upset. But I am human, and flawed. The best I can do is to acknowledge this insecurity and press on regardless of it. I love to write and I hope you all enjoy my writings.

For more insecure post go here.

Did this help you? Do you have a similar insecurity?


Empty Nest Insider said...

Thanks for sharing your amazing story! I'm also a lefty, but no one ever tried to force my right hand. I like how your mother stood up for you and taught you how to read. I'm sorry that your past still causes you so much pain. You should be proud of all of your accomplishments, but I know it's easier said than done. Julie

N. R. Williams said...

Hi Julie
thanks for your kind words and welcome to my blog. It's a little late here so I will track you down in the morning.

mooderino said...

That's quite a traumatic sounding childhood. I'm glad your mother figured it out before it was too late!

Moody Writing
The Funnily Enough

Theresa Milstein said...

I feel for you. My husband had some alternative program, and he's always struggled with spelling as a result.

As for grammar, I'm taking a short course through the school I work at because somehow I didn't absorb all the rules in high school.

And as for being left handed, I am too. In kindergarten, my teacher tried to make me write with my right hand. The same thing happened to my mother, and she didn't want it to happen to me too. She raised a fuss and even bought a left-handed scissor for me to use.

We all have insecurities, especially because the writers who seem to have made it seem to have it all down pat. I'm sure they don't.

Liza said...

Oh my gosh you have broken my heart. What an awful experience for a child to go through. Thank goodness for your mother, and for you! Be proud of your strength to persevere in spite of this negativity. I am proud of you.

Jules said...

I was a lefty too and changed but I still retain my lefty ability. And you know I like you. :)
Jules @ Trying To Get Over The Rainbow

Deniz Bevan said...

I'm so glad your mother stood up for you!
As a leftie, I'm always appalled to think what might have happened if someone had forced me to switch. I wouldn't be a right-handed writer for anything!

N. R. Williams said...

Hi Mood
Looking back as an adult I realize how traumatic it really was. But in the middle of it all I just made up stories and played with faeries.

Hi Theressa,
I'm glad your husband survived all that.

Hi Liza
Thank you.

Hi Jules
No wonder we gel so well, we share a similar experience.

Hi Deniz
I am afraid I am pretty much a right handed person. But I do believe I still have the sensitivities of a left handed person.

Thanks everyone for coming by.

Southpaw said...

Wow, that was so sucky. How wonderful it must have felt to get that 100%.

I do have the same fears. It's like I just know if someone finds a typo or something sloppy I forgot to fix they'll thing I'm an idiot.

Tara Tyler said...

the stupidity of geniuses astounds me!
and now you're scarred for life.
the education system is always behind, but tries to learn from its mistakes.
so glad you are using your artistic writing skills!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Forcing you to write with the wrong hand was so wrong.
Remember, it's not those reviews that validate your worth as a person, Nancy!

N. R. Williams said...

Thanks Holly, boy that 100% still thrills me. And, I rarely have to rely on spell check.

Hi Tara,
You're right about the education system. Parents have many more choices today than they previously did.

You're so right Alex. Still a negative review is hard to take. guess I'm just sensitive.

Thanks everyone for stopping by and leaving a comment.

Kay L. Davies said...

My horror story doesn't sound as drastic as yours but it sure had dire results. I started school young and skipped a grade. I was in Junior High at the age of 10, and was totally unprepared emotionally. So much was expected of me that I simply fell apart and didn't accomplish much of anything at all except in English class, especially in grammar class.
I was the eldest, and my parents were sweet and loving but clueless. Their other offspring avoided a similar fate because they did the trial-and-error bit with me. I am still insecure about my writing, and you're right, one negative comment can still put me into a tailspin if I let it.

Kay, Alberta, Canada
An Unfittie’s Guide to Adventurous Travel

L.G.Smith said...

What is it about needing to please that one person who disapproves? I'm guilty of the same thing. I can have five people say they like my story and one who doesn't, and all I can do is fret over the one I didn't win over. We gotta get over that.

And yay for moms who stick up for their kids!

N. R. Williams said...

Hi Kay
that sounds awful. Children just aren't equipped with the maturity to handle these adult situations we are put in.

Hi L. G.
You're right, we must get over the negative comments. There are people out there that just feed off of that stuff.

Thank you both for coming by and leaving a comment.

Mike Ruchhoeft said...


It's unfortunate that we can't keep idiots from the important stuff like teaching.

Took guts to post all that. Thanks

N. R. Williams said...

So true Mike. I have always been too honest, so guts or stupidity, I posted.

Tyrean Martinson said...

Wow! Thanks for sharing your story. That takes courage. I also had a mom who believed in me, and "taught" me all my lessons after school. She also highly encouraged my reading. I didn't have the same kind of experience . . .and I was terrible at art class, where my art never matched the teacher's expectations. I often threw my art in the trash before anyone could see it.

I think we all have insecurities deeply rooted in us. My teachers made me choose a hand to write with - I wanted to write with both - guess what? typing is natural, writing is not for me. I still switch hands while writing, drawing or painting, often without noticing.

Why do schools feel they have to put kids in a box?

Ty Johnston said...

I tend to be more insecure about my novels than my short stories. Not sure why, except that with short stories I'm usually more involved with them emotionally and can tell more readily when something is working or isn't. With my novels, I tend to get into a sort of blue-collar working mood, just trying to get the story written, at least on first draft.

N. R. Williams said...

Hi Tyrean
A box is right. I think the world in general operates that way.

Hi Ty
short stories used to be hard for me until I started blogging. It's interesting how we each have different strengths.

Thank you both for coming by.

Lynda R Young said...

My brother had to switch using his left hand too. It seems kind of a barbaric practise. No my brother's handwriting is illegible. Crazy.

N. R. Williams said...

Hi Lynda
It is barbaric. The fear dates back centuries when people believed left handed children were possessed by the devil.

Thanks for coming by.

Laila Knight said...

I'm so sorry you were put through all that. I'm glad we don't make kids switch from left to right hand anymore. There's a reason we are as we are. I hope you do realize you're not stupid. Heck, just because I'm the youngest in my parents' household, they still don't respect my opinion. :)

N. R. Williams said...

Hi Laila
I do realize I'm not stupid. My friends consider me to have a brian. LOL Respect is a difficult thing that I think we struggle with all our lives. Thanks for coming by.

LTM said...

Nancy, I just can't even imagine your family treating you like you're not smart and it makes me angry to read it. When I was a kid, we were taught that whole language way to read, too--I think they called it "sight reading," and to this day, I'm the worst speller. You're a brilliant person with great insights and clear talent.

Anyone who thinks otherwise is the idiot. :D <3

N. R. Williams said...

Wow L. G. I am flattered beyond words. You know what the Bible says? A Prophet is without honor in his own city. (That would include family.) Not that I'm a Prophet, but I think that can apply to many things.

Thanks so much again.