Alien Invaders and the Art of Self-sabotage

Hello Children’s Writers and Friends,

Today’s post speaks of one of the more unpleasant aspects of being a writer. Along with writer’s block and writer’s guilt comes the subject of this post. Self-sabotage, specifically for writers. Perhaps posting this is in itself an act of self-sabotage, although I hope not. Regardless this blog was always designed to be a log of my journey to publication and like it or not, this is part of the tempestuous road we travel.

I have ‘met’ (in person, online, via telephone and email) exactly ten editors during fourteen ‘meetings’ several of which I paid for, at Conferences etc. Of those fourteen times, there have been a grand total of three where I can honestly say, I was happy about how it all progressed. Of those I was happy with; one, was my first where everyone and everything was new and exciting and one was with someone I was unaware was even an editor until much later. Of the rest; one of the editors wasn’t even with one particular publishing house anymore, but no doubt has clout and contacts. Like many emerging authors, I find these meetings, calls, emails very exciting. Also like many emerging and aspiring authors, I find them extremely nerve wracking.


When I meet an editor, especially if it is in an unexpected way or place, self-sabotaging aliens completely take over my brain! They have made me follow an editor who said, ‘Wait here’ while she went to get something for me, show a lack of interest in another who said they liked my ms, but nothing more, give limited contact availability times and create an email train with yet another editor interested in a different ms and most recently tell another editor that I gritted my teeth when I heard that other writers received contracts from one of the publishing editors already mentioned, while I waited (un)expectantly in the wings. What I neglected to mention was that the person I was gritting my teeth at was myself! Not my colleagues, with whom I genuinely celebrated. After all, the more successful Aussie Children’s authors there are out there, the more there will be. Success breeds interest, which breeds further success and so on and so on.

Why do I let these aliens take over? Simple, if they’re there, I don’t have to be. Yes I hear you, ‘Bwak bawk bawk,’ but in my defence this was all happening sub-consciously. As it turns out there are reasons we self-sabotage. Here are the top five.

1. Inadequacy – fear of success. What happens if I do get what I’ve been hoping for? Everything will change. Can I handle that?

2. Desire for Control– fear of failure. What if I give it my all and still fail? What does that say about me? It says I’m no good. Can I handle that?

3. Feeling Like a Fake– imposter syndrome. What am I doing? They’ll see right through me, I’m no good at this and soon everyone else will know too. Can I handle that?

4. Excuses excuses– for when we fail. I sent that ms in too early. I wasn’t chatty and outgoing enough. I was obnoxious. (Aliens took over my brain. Hmm? Hey!) At least there’s a reason I failed, not because I might actually not be good enough. It’s hard, but I can handle that.

5. Better the Devil You Know– sure I want to be successful (gain a contract, respect, sales, whatever success means to you) but you know, I’m really quite comfortable as I am. So what if I never get published (again) lots of people don’t. I can handle that.

I suffer from all of these at various times, some visit more than others. Which ones are yours? Please comment below, so I know I’m not the only one (linked to at least one above)

Now I know these aliens are out there ready to take over my brain at the mere mention of the word editor, let alone publi-

‘Hey! I see your game, get out of here alien being’

Now at least I can recognise them and try to be brave enough to shoo them away!

Farewell fellow travellers,

Savour the quest,


About Artelle Lenthall

Hi Fellow Children’s Writers and Friends, I am a published Picture Book author as well as a wife, mother and Primary School teacher. I am loving the new 'sites' on the continuing road to publication. I belong to the Fellowship of Australian Writers(FAW) Creative Kids Tales(CKT) Jen Storer’s The Scribblers and although I'd love to belong to more writing related organisations, I have found friends, support, critiquing and general encouragement with these, for which I am truly grateful. I also subscribe to Tara Lazar's specialist Picture Book website; How to Write For Kids While Raising Them, Buzz Words and The Duck Pond where I am one of the moderators. These inspire me in the development of my craft. Worth a look if like me, Picture Books and Children’s Writing are your passion.
This entry was posted in Networking, Professionalism, Road to Publication, Writer's Conditions. Bookmark the permalink.

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