best books 2018

Success and self-doubt.

As I look back on this remarkable year, I realise how often my goal posts for success shifted and how this was determined by the demon of self-doubt who continually rose up to undermine my confidence. I always thought being able to hold my book in my hand, to see my words in print would be the pinnacle of success…and at the time, it was. My heart burst with joy at the sight of her when I pulled her out of the box – opening pages at random, stroking her cover, sniffing her like a pervert. This was soon followed by paralysing anxiety as we waited for the reviews. I believed the book would be vilified and I would be ridiculed. For the first time, I found I couldn’t write. I couldn’t even concentrate on listening to an audio book in the car. When the reviews came, I was overwhelmed with tear-filled relief, until the demon of self-doubt began to dance in my mind again – undermining my confidence, filling me with the thought that ‘people were just being polite.’ When random readers began to send kind messages, part of me danced and sang in ecstasy, while another part had her eyes narrowed, arms crossed, never quite believing. To top the year off, my book made it onto a top Australian fiction reads for 2018 list, making me want to hire a sky writer to blaze across the endless blue – ‘Heaven is on earth.’ Until the green-eyed demon of self-doubt began to whisper her sweet nasties in my ear. ‘Your book only made one of those lists. Most papers didn’t review it because it wasn’t good enough.’ Etc, etc and so forth. How I would love to kill her, this demon who always tears the edge off my bliss. I want to drive a stake through her heart. All I can do in the face of her is write.

And as I return to the daily act of placing one word after another, it dawns on me that this is success. It lies there in the process – the outcomes are irrelevant. I am doing what I love…the rest all falls away and is actually not important.