Chez l'abeille

Culture. Travel. Writing. My world in words and pictures



I’ve started to notice a curious feeling recently. About a year ago when my slush-pile winning text, “Where’s that tiger?” found me a place on the Golden Egg Academy picture book programme, I was on a real high. After several years of trying, things were finally moving in the right direction.

Once I was accepted onto the Golden Egg programme I knew I wouldn’t be doing any serious submitting for a while. I had stories to hone and editorials to be ready for. But lately as this fantastic year is coming to an end, I’ve realised I’m beginning to feel sendy! This is the term coined in my critique group when you just want to be sending your polished texts out into the big bad book world of submissions; where the dream could, just maybe, if I’m really lucky, come true. But there’s also something else. Something I can only describe as a HUGE fear of missing out, of needing to be THERE…in the right place, the right time, where that one agent will chat to ME and realise what a fabulous all round writing star I really am…

#FOMO. Fear of missing out. Something that gets bandied about on social media, almost as a joke. Yet within the writing world I’m beginning to wonder if it’s more pervasive than we may imagine. Recently I’ve been trying to analyse where this sensation comes from and how it can impact on the unpublished, or even published author.

I’ve used Twitter and other social media for a while now. It enables me to keep in touch with my writing peers and hero/ines all at the touch of a finger. What I have come to see, however, is that a constant feed of Woo-Hoos and celebratory huzzahs can start to dent the confidence of those whose moment has not yet arrived. It’s all too easy to begin to compare yourself to all those successful authors and illustrators and feel, well, not quite good enough!

At moments like that I turn to my trusty critique group. They know my writing very well and provide a healthy perspective on what I am achieving. We also share and discuss the realities of our personal writing journeys, both the highs AND the lows and this helps maintain a more balanced view. Yet it can gnaw away at your confidence when all about you are apparently getting signed to agents or having their fabulous publications splashed across the book world and somehow you begin to feel that you are being left behind. In moments like that, the most important thing to remember is that no one ever posts their failures and rejections in the same way they share their success! Behind each and every wow moment lies just as much pain and fear of failure that will accompany anyone who calls themselves a writer. You are not alone!

It’s also easy to feel that you have to be at every event, workshop, critique event or conference that comes along. This year I was able to visit the London Book Fair as the timing coincided with the school holiday period. I remember last year feeling rather jealous of all the book people who were able to go, as if somehow they had progressed an extra step up the ladder. I had to go…I had to be there to be a part of it, as all proper writers must surely be.

This morning, before I headed out to travel to the fair, I scanned Twitter and this comment made me stop and think:

In the interests of balance, I am NOT at the London Book Fair. So if you’re an author (aspiring or published) and you’re not there either, don’t be panicked by FOMO and a timeline full of tweets. It can be fun, but it’s really not an essential part of the process.

And they were right! I had a thoroughly pleasant time looking at all the books but would I rush back? I could possibly achieve the same outcomes by visiting my local bookshop or library!

Yet, given the array of things that are available it can become increasingly difficult to say no! The annual calendar starts to fill up with workshops, conferences, competitions. Again social media buzzes: Are you going? Are you entering? What will happen if you DON’T? Agents are found, deals are made…you have to be in it, to win it, don’t you? Yet in reality choices must be made, and budgets managed. Planning ahead and focusing on events that will develop friendships as well as my writing has become a more meaningful approach for me.

During my year of no submissions, I have developed seven stories and they are all the better for the time I have taken to let them sit and percolate. I have now written out a tentative plan for the next steps as I re-enter the world of rejection and hope! I’ll be working hard not to let FOMO deflect or defeat me. Writing is a journey not a destination.

©Chez l’abeille  2018



6 thoughts on “FOMO!

  1. If I posted all my failures you would need a spam filter.


  2. Great blog Cathy! But I must be really ignorant because I don’t know what FOMO stands for …😬


  3. WTF FOMO? Fiona Orders Mountains Of…. Fell Or Mountain Or…..? Feelings Of Mad Origami….

    Also, your observation that all the social media crowing makes those still aspiring to make it in the writing world feel inadequate is equally true in pretty much any sphere. My feelings of inadequacy and utterly crushed self-confidence (in life in general) rose in tandem with the rise in my social media use. In the end I made a concious decision to only use it as a keeping-in-touch tool – mainly through private message – or for doing silly music theme thingies which were open to all and sundry. I closed my Twitter account, never got started with instagram and used Facebook only in the manner outlined above. My feelings of adequacy and
    self confidence are slowly coming back. And I am proud to say that I am playing a huge part in resurrecting the art of old-fashioned letter writing. There is nothing quite like an envelope with friendly, familiar writing dropping on your doorstep. My friends and I write anywhere we have time – waiting for the bus/on the bus, have a skinny decaf double soya mocha latte datte in a poncy cafe, just before going to bed, halfway round a walk perched on a rock…. And we write on anything we have on us – napkins, paper bags, cardboard wrappers of snacks – literally anything. (sometimes we use actual notepaper torn out of a notebook. Or even a card or postcard!) And then it gets popped in the postbox. If it gets the last post in time it arrives on the doorstep the following morning. It’s not cheap – sixty something pence for first class – but the delight it delivers is inproportional to the cost. Which is digressing massively from the point you made and which I wanted to comment on. But you budding authors might like to to consider writing notes to each other rather than yelling out to each other via social media. I guarentee your feelings of inadequacy will diminish 🙂

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