Monday, October 26, 2009

Overconfidence And Other Such Things

Today is an important day for me. I won't bore you with the details, but suffice it to say that I've been waiting for October 26 for a while now. During this wait, I've relied pretty heavily on those around me to keep my spirits up.

But as I was thinking the other day, something hit me. Not like a brick or anything, but you know, a deep thought.

I can't remember what sparked it. A blog or an email or a comment somewhere. But I remember thinking, "Oh, I'm gonna make it. That, I'm not worried about."

And as soon as I thought it, my next thought was, "Are you being overconfident?"

And that new thought has been somersaulting in my brain for while. Now, before you think *I* think I'm all that and a bag of chips (ooh! Chips!), I've also had a few emails from people who are just starting to get to know me. One particular email basically said that I'm a tad intimidating. Me! This is not the first time I've heard this, although I'm unsure as to why.

I swear I'm going to link these two random thoughts. So I've been stewing over my confidence issues: Am I overconfident? And the email: You're intimidating. 

And I wonder if they're related.

Does confidence spur intimidation? A dear (dear dear) friend of mine told me that she believes some people may be intimidated by me because I put out the attitude that I will make it in this business. And you know what? She's right. I absolutely 100% believe that I am going to make it. At the same time I don't intend to put people off by acting arrogant or overconfident. I just happen to think I've worked hard, learned a lot from the successes of others, applied what I've learned and that, yeah, eventually, I'll make it. This is something my dad taught me that I'll never lose: If you work hard enough, you can do anything you want. (Thanks, Dad.)

What say you about confidence (too much or not enough), intimidation or anything else?


Unknown said...

When I first started delving into the world of writing a year ago, your name kept popping up everywhere! Seriously! I think people are intimidated by you because of your renown. I don't think it's a bad sort of intimidation. You're not scary. You're just sort of a celebrity.

You're knowledgeable and you're sharing what you know. And not only do you believe you can make it, you believe it of anyone who works hard at it. That is the best kind of confidence! :)

Abby Annis said...

I guess confidence plus talent backing up that confidence might make you seem intimidating. I never got that from you. You might be super kewl, but it's not like you use that to lord over the rest of us. :)

I think it's awesome that you 100% believe you're going to make it. You have to develop that confidence in yourself or you never will make it. And I'm sure you have periods of doubt, just like the rest of us, so don't stress. :)

Stephanie McGee said...

Nice post! Hope today goes well for you!

Unknown said...

I love your confidence. Knowing we are going to succeed is almost as important as good storytelling.

When my cousin and I were just old enough to begin to go out to the "clubs" she used to prep us as we walked towards the bouncer:

"Head up, shoulders back, chest out. Here we go girls!"

I still say it to myself everyday.

I'm glad this day arrived! XO

Unknown said...

Intimidation is a perception. We all lack confidence in one area or another. Some people lack it over all and anyone with any confidence reminds them of that and thus, they feel intimidated. Take me for example, I have been a nurse longer than a writer (though I've been writing for as long as I can remember). Nurse leaders do not intimidate me but many writers do, even 'aspiring' writers. It's all in how I see myself.
I, too, have experienced what you are talking about!

Lizzy Mason said...

I totally believe that, Elana! Not that you're intimidating, that is, but that you're going to make it!You're a fabulous writer, a terrific promoter, and you've definitely got the guts to make it in this tough business!

When I first started querying, I never once thought "This will never happen for me." I'm still slogging through the process, but I think it's really important to have that positive attitude.

I hope all goes well for you today and I can't wait to hear whatever the details are!

Scott said...

Confidence is a good thing. Over confidence is a good thing. Over confidence with a tad too much arrogance is a not so good thing.

Let me relate this all to my favorite reality show - Project Runway. I love this show. This current season, delayed because of a lawsuit, is good. But . . . there's one person I cannot stand. Why? Because her over-confidence, w/a healthy dose of arragance, in her abilities makes her come across as an absolute Witch with a capital "B"! Now, there are other designers, just as confident in their work and abilities that don't irritate the crap out of me. Why? Because they haven't let their arrogance overwhelm them.

I think we all have to believe in ourselves and our abilities. It is when we cross the line and start treating others as lesser individuals (something I haven't ever seen you do on this blog, your other blogs, or the few emails we've exchanged do). It is at that point, where confidence goes and hides in a corner while arrogance takes over.

If you don't believe in yourself, if you don't exude that confidence . . . somewhere along the way, an agent/editor/publisher is going to sense your lack of belief. Again, Project Runway, the winner this week could have been someone totally different. The reason she didn't win - her lack of confidence in her abilities, in the dress she designed, was evident in her comments. The judges specifically told her that her lack of belief in what she created cost her the win.

So, go forth with confidence!!


p.s. I haven't been intimidated by you . . . yet, though I am in awe about your blogerific multi-tasking abilities. : )

Unknown said...

Some people might be intimidated by your confindence becaseu they don't believe in themselves - and they're maybe a tad jealous (even if they don't know it). I find this in a lot of situations - especailly when folks aren't used to me yet. Heck, I'm intimidated by a very good friend for the very same reason - and I'm not bashful about telling her either!

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Elana the Intimidator. Take no prisoners, girl! Without a healthy dose of confidence I'm not sure anyone can make it in this business. But believing in oneself doesn't equate to bullying others, which I don't think you do at all.
I hope whatever awaits you today you wear that confidence proudly.

PJ Hoover said...

I'm right there with you on the confidence. It is so important to believe you are going to succeed!

Jen Chandler said...

It's funny how people view confidence in the same light as intimidation. Confidence (healthy, balanced self confidence) is necessary to get anywhere in life. It's sometihng I wish I had more of. I grew up with horrible self confidence and I battle self deprication every day. I think we all need to believe in ourselves a bit more and let go of the thought that confident people are some how out to get us!


~Jamie said...

I've been thinking about you and your special day all weekend. Ha! It was probably ME you were talking to when you said you were sure you were going to make it.

Let me say this... I have never once thought you sounded overconfident in your goals. Instead I've just always thought of you as someone to emulate in this business. I got a lot of rejections on my way to agentness, and more than a few times--I said Elana got rejected this much, and she is one of the most professional people I know.

That's just it, this business is all about timing, who you know, and the right thing hitting with the right person at the right time. You got this, because you exude awesomeness. Awesomeness=Agented.

Loretta Nyhan said...

Like anything, it's all in the presentation. There's obnoxiously overconfident and the admirably confident. From your online presence I'd definitely say you fall in the latter group.

Best of luck today!

L. T. Host said...

I'm not intimidated by you. Your confidence is inspiring, not scary.

I've had people say the same thing about me, and it's always puzzled me. Me? Intimidating? It's kind of a shock, because I don't think of myself as some powerhouse type of person. But perhaps it does come down to confidence.

At any rate, I hope today is everything you want it to be and more!

B.J. Anderson said...

I think as a writer, confidence is everything. You have to know that you're going to make it. If you work long and hard enough, it's going to happen. If that's intimidating to other people, then I guess they are the ones who have to deal with it. Great post, Elana, and it sounds like you're going to get some good news today?! :D I'll be thinking of you!

Danyelle L. said...

I don't think you're scary, I think you're awesome. :D I don't think you're over confident either. Over confidence stems from believing you've got it in the bag due more to luck than hard work. You work hard. A lot. You're the right kind of confident. :D

Windy said...

Confidence and arrogance are completely different and I've learned that it isn't difficult for them to translate into the written / blogged word. You do not come across arrogant, so don't worry about that.

Being knowledgable, friendly and approachable are so anti-arrogant, I don't even know where to start.

And I don't think there's anything wrong in confidence. You have to have it in order to survive, especially in a business like this. If YOU don't believe in yourself, what is going to make someone else want to believe in you?

Carrie Harris said...

Confidence is a good thing, chica. The people who don't have it? They're the ones that give up.

Sending all kinds of good vibes to you today!

Jessica Nelson said...

You're famous??? LOL Glad I didn't know or I might've been intimidated too. *snicker*

Actually, I think you're onto something. Being confident is not the same as overconfidence. In fact, sometimes I wonder if overconfidence is actually insecurity prettied up? I don't know. But real confidence can be intimidating, I bet.
When I was a teen I used to be bemoan the fact that no guys liked me. My mom said it was because I was confident and smart (her words here, lol) and that I intimidated them. Harumph. Not my idea of a good thing at the time.
But because of her comment I've always linked confidence and intimidation, but not in a bad way. Your confidence doesn't make you intimidating, imo. But some people might feel intimidated by your confidence. Does that make any kind of sense?
Publishing the comment now before I write anything else that might be odd....

ali cross said...

Hmm. Okey dokey, let me see if I can address this: My first impression of Elana Johnson upon meeting you in the lunch line at the Storymaker conference was that you were wicked fun (the hair, the quick laugh) and that you were INTO this stuff (writing.) I immediately thought "She's so cool and REALLY wants to be published. Just like me! (well maybe not the cool part, but ...)" And so I liked you and was NOT intimidated.

My second thought after spending our first crit group meeting together was that I was scared out of my pants by you. LOL YES! It's true!

You seemed way smarter than me, and way more into this stuff (writing) than I was. Funny, eh, that the very thing that I admired about you later became what intimidated me about you? Hahaha. Anyway. I was scared. Yes, yes I was.


After spending the last year and a half criquing with you, I can honestly say that you ARE confident and you DO KNOW what you're talking about and those reasons are part of why I LOVE being associated with you. Your belief in yourself, your hard work, your struggle to educate yourself and put your new-found knowledge into action are part of what inspire me to do the same.

*I* have more confidence in myself as a writer because I reflect off of you. Your confidence inspires my own.

It's like the whole "you are what you eat" thing. I think the more I hang around with writers who BELIEVE in their abilities and in their futures as authors, the more I TOO will become one of those writers.

So, yes you are confident. So am I. Yes, sometimes you are intimidating--but only because you have already started to climb that ladder to success and some of us are scrambling to catch up. But that's okay. We need to aspire to something, right? Why not to you?

((love ya!))

Paul Greci said...

Elana, I enjoy your blog. Here my few off-the-top-of-my-head thoughts regarding confidence.

I think confidence is a personal thing. For me, I'm confident that I'm going to do whatever I can to succeed as a writer.

Right now that means giving my agent manuscripts that will sell. Not too long ago that meant writing a query letter that would get people to actually want to read my book.

There are no guarantees that this path I've been traveling for a while will work out. But I'm confident that I'll do what it takes to give myself the best shot. For me that means continuing to push myself as a writer.

Whenever you put yourself out there publically you are going to get a variety of responses. I've just started a blog about a month ago and I am trying to post things that are true to me about the writing process and how my life experiences are tied into my writing. I'm not sure how my style and content will be perceived. However, I am confident that I'll do my best to post in a thoughtful way what is true to me.

XiXi said...

I don't think that believing you're going to make it in the business makes you overconfident. I think it makes you the right amount of confident. There's nothing wrong with believing in your potential. I mean, that's the only way it will be realized, right?

For the record, I didn't find you intimidating when I found your blog several months ago. You're not scary at all! :-)

Unknown said...

I've never felt intimidated by you - but I would guess that those who do feel intimidated feel that way about others too (so not just by you). You need confidence in this crazy business. :)

Anonymous said...

I've noticed that confidence is the first thing to go, and so I make it one of the most important things to hang onto. And anyone who is confident can intimidate another, especially if their confidence level isn't as high as it could be. It's all relative.

Don't let a comment like "you are intimidating" intimidate you!

Rebecca Knight said...

Now I'm all excited in case this *news* is something you can share with us later on! BEST OF LUCK with whatever it is :D!

I fully agree that we have to be confident: we CAN do it if we work to constantly improve and never give up!

Tana said...

Hang on to confidence like a life raft. Always come from a place of knowing, in the most humbling manner possible. I hope it went well!!

Anonymous said...

Confidence is essential to success. Luck and skill are needed too.

Thanks for following Secret story Time!

lisa and laura said...

Heck yeah you're going to make it. We have absolutely no doubt in our mind. And...eek! BIG DAY. We want an update asap. We love you Elana and think you're going to kick some major butt regardless of what happens today.

MG Higgins said...

Keep being yourself--keep being confident. If other people find that intimidating, then they aren't ready for success. You're a good role model!

Little Ms J said...

A confident girl leaves a self-conscious girl in her wake every single day. Embrace it (the confidence, not the narcissism). I also believe I will make it in this business because my dad told me the same thing when I was five and every single day thereafter. You go after the things you want and if you don't put a time table on them it isn't as tough when they don't happen tomorrow. It may just be the next day.

Hope the 26th rocked your world, whatever it may be.

Tess said...

I'd much rather hang out with someone who was confident than someone who was always needing reassurance. That wears on you after a while, you know? I think confidence leads to success. We think it, we plan it, we work it and it eventually happens :)

L.T. Elliot said...

I don't think you sound over confident for knowing that you'll make it. I think you sound smart. If you decide in advance that you'll make it, the odds are on your side. You're just smart. =]

Intimidating? Well, I'm intimidated by beautiful people. So yes, I guess I'm intimidated by you.

Unknown said...

You're intimidating? That's too funny. You have to be confident (most days) when you're a writer; otherwise, you'd be curled up in a ball, sobbing, wondering why the hell you're even bothering to write. Rejection happens. A lot. Books get published and you can't figure out why. Characters and plot don't always coorporate. Some even storm off the pages, How would anyone reach his or her goals if we all just gave up because of a lack of confidence? And the more confidence you have the better. You don't have any you could, like, toss my way. ;0)

Melanie Hooyenga said...

I do think confidence can be intimidating to some people. In your case, when the only interaction a person has is through blogs, you come off as very confident (which is good!!) but a lot of writers are the complete opposite and may be intimidated to even befriend someone like that. I admit, I was pleasantly surprised the first time you commented on my blog because you just have that... something that makes people want to be around you.

Personally, my dad once questioned if he'd raised me too independent (and therefore confident) because I couldn't keep a boyfriend and he thought they were all intimidated by me. I thought that was crap, but there is some truth to the idea.

Carolyn V. said...

I really think in this business you need confidence. The writing world is a difficult place. Sometimes confidence can pull you through. And yes, I think I will make it too. You and me, we'll make it. *fingers crossed, looking up at sky with hope*

Kristen Jensen said...

I'm so glad I started reading your blog!

I wrote a long response to this post but deleted it because it's late and it sounded stupid. But I love what I've read!

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