The last month or so has been a real exercise in insecurity for me.
In the five weeks, I've entered five online contests, some with positive outcomes, some with virtual crickets. The waiting between entering and judging was grueling (though I'm told the waiting only gets worse the closer you get to publication).
Anyone who subbed for Pitch Wars (or who knows someone who subbed for Pitch Wars) gets this.
But the experience has overall been a positive one. I got feedback on my query and my opening pages, learning what worked and what didn't. I met other writers: including lots of very talented writers who remind me that I need to put everything I can into my writing in order to compete at that level. And who also remind me that the writing community is a pretty cool place to hang out.
Hitting send on that first submission is hard. I know submitting to agents is hard, but somehow putting things out in the open is even harder. (At least with agents, if I'm rejected, no one has to know besides me--this insecurity kept me out of the Write on Con forums. Maybe next year I'll be braver).
But I'm really glad that I put myself out there. I'm more confident in my story, knowing that other people loved it besides me and my critique group (who are wonderful, but they also like me . . . ). More importantly, I'm more confident in me. Because I did hard things and survived.
I kept writing (well, rewriting if I'm going to be scrupulously honest).
And I got lucky: I made it into Pitch Wars and get to spend the next 6 weeks polishing my MS until it's blindingly beautiful. (I hope!)
Then I'll get to put myself out there.