I've had a few visits from friends of late who are in various stages of the publication process. One is a friend and past student whose first book (a memoir) is due out in a few months. His has been a long road, which began in TAFE and continued through academia. We started off as students together, became friends, and then I became his editor and I suppose in a way one of his mentors.
His has been an interesting path and one that should inspire any writer who is struggling, because he has had a lot of knockers along the way -- a lot of people who have told him he's not good enough, he's never going to make it, he should discontinue his studies because he wasn't a good enough writer. Lots of things along these lines. Each year, he seemed to take on another, another who said: drop out now. Fortunately, there have also been a few who have believed. Fortunately, because no matter how strong your fortitude, no matter how determined you are, it can be hard to go on in the face of such relentless criticism.
He's not one to fall easily though. He has spirit and guts, and when he gets knocked down, he gets up with an I'll-show-them attitude. And he has shown them. As I've said, his first book's coming out soon -- much sooner than the would-be manuscripts of some of his knockers. Sometimes vengeance is sweet.
So, there's a lesson in this for all of us. Many writers struggle with that self-confidence demon. A hard crit session can see egos pinned to the board like dead butterflies. But writers who will make it unpin themselves and rise again. They keep writing. Their confidence may swoop and dive, but this doesn't stop them. Writer's block may cripple them from time to time, but they get over it. They get over it because they're driven to write. That's what makes them writers.