Wednesday, February 5, 2014

IWSG: I'm not the brightest tool in the crayon box

I was putting off this post, hoping the insecurity would go away by the time I got to it, or at least another would take it's place, but nope! So I'm about to do something extremely scary for me. (Alex, I blame you for starting this ;))



Everyone has experience with labels. In high school, I was labeled as a ditz, the dumb blonde that wasn't blonde, the "without a care in the world" girl, head in the clouds, not much going on upstairs, light's on-no one's home, etc. You get it. I actually took that Mean Girls quiz and got this:



It actually got to the point when I was told that I was pretending to be dumb to get attention, because despite my label, I had excellent grades. Well, that just made things worse because I wasn't pretending anything, so the insecurity weighed down on me. I felt unsure about anything I said, worried when I was just trying to have fun and I'd come off ditzy. I knew I was naive in a lot of things of the world, and so instead of admitting to jokes I didn't get, I'd laugh anyway, or pretend I knew what people were talking about when they told me their life experiences I didn't understand. I wanted to hide the fact that people were RIGHT. My label... was right.

Even after graduating, after getting married, having kids, holding jobs that aren't easy to understand, I've carried the label with me. I do feel stupid. I feel inadequate and immature and uncomfortable in my own brain. I try to joke it off (since that's my go-to when I get uncomfortable) saying it's mommy mind, but the reality is, I've ALWAYS been dumb.



I don't know what possessed me to sit down and write a book that one day. I suppose I've always had so many characters and story ideas and no outlet. The thought of actually writing them out didn't cross my mind until that day because I wasn't good at translating thoughts to words. When I took that chance, I had to force myself to learn the ins and outs of writing. I studied and poured over blogs and books and anything under the sun because despite my lack of vocabulary, I loved writing out the characters who had been living in my head for so long.

Everything in writing is a learning experience. I get that. But once I published, I was not prepared for this insecurity to rear its ugly head again. My characters are often labeled immature and stupid. My books are not peppered with beautiful prose or deep, meaningful dialogue. I sit on the surface of fluff, and it was never my intention to write anything more than that because those characters seem very real despite the shallowness, but it still hits me hard. That maybe I'm not smart enough to write any deeper than what I am.

My vocabulary is that of a twelve-year-old's. My prose includes the phrase "What the crap?" and words like "super" and "awesome." Because that is how I talk. And when you become a published writer, you put yourself out there for criticism over pretty much everything. From what words you use to even what names you choose for your characters. I think slowly I'm growing a thick coat of armor whenever a book of mine comes out, but there is that one open nerve. And it often gets poked at, making it hard to write the next one because I constantly think, "Am I smart enough to do this?"

So, there it all is. I don't even have an uplifting thought, yikes! I'll just leave you with the spell for the day, and hope that now that I've admitted this it goes away. That is how it works, right? ;)

Spell for the day:

Obliviate!

64 comments:

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

You are anything but dumb! You are the joy when we all need it.
I'm sure my writing level is somewhere near yours. I could use big words (I have to at work) but writing is my time to relax and talk normal. People relate to normal.
You have a husband and kids and get get to stay home and write awesome books. I'd say you're pretty smart.
(And I don't know anyone who can type words with a baby's butt that can never be removed. That takes skill!)

Rachel Schieffelbein said...

Cassie, you are brilliant! It takes guts to write very real characters like you do. And if people aren't getting the deeper things going on in your books, then they're dumb.

Kyra Lennon said...

People who review books rarely think to look deeper than exactly what is on the page in front of them. That's their issue, not yours.

I don't need to explain the depth of your characters to you, you know them. And the people who "get" your books know it, too.

You're more than smart enough. <3

SLC Hallyu said...

Oh honey, you are brilliant!! No one who writes like that can be dumb. Seriously, you're just like me... you have a big imagination! My head's always in the clouds too. Are you surprised?

Chrys Fey said...

You are NOT dumb!! I repeat . . . YOU ARE NOT DUMB!!!!

It actually hurt me to read your post and to see you say you're not smart. I know what it's like to be weighed down by our high school selves and our level of education, but that doesn't make us less than any other writer out there. We use our experiences and who we are when we write.

Some people like deep stories, but plenty of people like lighter stories. Those stories are actually more enjoyable to read, so be proud of your characters! The people who say anything bad about them or your books don't have an inkling of what it takes to write and publish a book.

You are BRILLIANT!

Jolene Perry said...

I adore you to pieces, Cassie ;-)
Seriously.
Writing funny is probably the hardest thing to write, and it just HAPPENS for you.
Also, I looked up how to put gifs on my blog, and was like - uh... I'm not going to take the time to figure this out right now... So, yanno... There's THAT ;-)

Elisabeth Kauffman said...

Your voice is strong and authentic. There's nothing dumb about that! Big vocabulary words do not intelligent/eloquent prose make.

Gail said...

You were strong enough to talk about your weaknesses and that takes a very smart person.

David P. King said...

Of course you're smart! And all that that implies! :)

Mara Rae said...

YOU ARE NOT DUMB! Just adding my two cents. But I understand where you're coming from to an extent. I don't think I'm dumb, but I do think I'm...strange. And maybe the reason I haven't succeeded in YA is because my characters are strange, just like me. Unfortunately, I don't know how to write teens the way you do - funny, authentic, NORMAL! That's a gift and you are smart enough to share it. :)

Robin said...

What you are talking about here is an illogical belief. We all have them. (Does that make you feel any better?) They are those beliefs that we decide on (usually when we are kids) that 1 + 1 = 3. One thing happened, followed by another thing and we reached a conclusion. We didn't reach the correct conclusion, but it sure felt correct. So we kept it. And it has shaped our lives in crazy ways.

All of the evidence of your life indicates the "wrongness" of your belief (if you choose to look at it). Your book netted you a publisher. Stupid books with bad writing and lackluster characters don't get published. And they certainly don't publish more than once.

I think that your Life Experience has been different than many of the people that you know. Ergo, their stories and jokes don't affect you in the way they do with others who have a similar story. And that is okay. It doesn't make you less. It doesn't make them less. Just different. And no one is stupid.

Maybe you can use this Illogical Belief system that adds up the information incorrectly in your next novel. Because we all do it. Every one of us carries around a Belief About Others or Ourselves that doesn't serve us because we interpreted events incorrectly. Instead of allowing yours one more minute to bathe you in insecurity, use it and write another Awesome book.

Sheena-kay Graham said...

I overuse the word awesome as well. I too have felt inadequate but you need to know that feelings are just that sometimes and don't always mesh with reality. Glad you shared with us Cassie and that you write, blog and a are truly hilariously awesome. Yup, used it again. Awesome.

Johanna Garth said...

Nope, I agree with everyone else. Definitely not dumb. But I relate because I went through the whole airhead stereotype thing in high school too. Don't let it get you down and don't feel like you need to prove anything to anyone!

sydneyaaliyah.com said...

I bet the way you are and especially the way you write is more relatable to the masses then you think. And, you selling books, so people get you.
Keep doing what your doing. The insecurity may not go away, but you prove them wrong every day you write.

sydneyaaliyah.com said...

I bet the way you are and especially the way you write is more relatable to the masses then you think. And, you selling books, so people get you.
Keep doing what your doing. The insecurity may not go away, but you prove them wrong every day you write.

sonia said...

When I was a kid I had the same thing happen to me. So much so that my 6th grade teacher would joke to the class, 'Sonia missed the bus again.' Meaning, of course, everything went right over my head. I admit I can be ditzy but it's usually because I can see the argument in every situation and little is black and white to me. So what comes off as dumb is really just me seeing the other side of the coin. And a big pet peeve of mine is writing that does not ring true to the character. If your character is a teenager she needs to speak like a teenager. Right now I'm reading Marian Keyes and though her prose isn't flowery it's very true to life (and hilarious). Don't beat yourself up. As a writer, I know how easy it is to do, but in the end I'd rather read an honest tale than writing that falls flat.

Carol Riggs said...

HUGS to you! I'm SO glad you were brave and determined enough to write a book--you've done more than other who start and never finish. I don't think it matters that your stories aren't (supposedly) deep and meaningful and poetic--not everyone likes to read books like that. It'd be a boring world if everyone wrote the same way, or if we were all the same kind of people. You're you, and that in itself is awesome. :)

Britney Gulbrandsen said...

I hate labels for this very reason. They stick with you forever! When I was in third grade, I joined a softball team. I'd NEVER played sports before. Ever. So it was a new experience for me. Everyone on my team had been playing softball for at least a couple years. So, needless to say, I was the worst on the team. They taunted me and called me names. And the girls were so mean to me about it that I decided I'd never play softball (or sports) again. And I haven't really. I get SOOOO terrified anytime I'm even around a ball. It's ridiculous.

So I get this.

That being said...you're NOT dumb! I haven't read any of your books yet (I have 3 on my kindle and I'm hoping to start one this month!), but just by reading your blog/facebook posts it's clear that you're anything but dumb.

So let's get over these labels we were given! They don't define us!

*virtual hugs*

mshatch said...

If you got excellent grades then I doubt you're dumb. Just sayin'
:)

Loni Townsend said...

I think you're awesome (and yes, that's how I talk too). Labels suck. People who don't see the genius of your writing and creations are the dumb ones. :D

Michelle D. Argyle said...

I knew I liked you. :) I've felt this way my whole life and have always considered the only thing that has saved me is that I'm a hard worker and determined. I'm pretty sure if I took an IQ test, I'd come out looking pretty stupid. I think you're brilliant, if that makes any difference. :)

Patrick Stahl said...

Eh, society has need of many different types of people. If your behavior isn't on purpose and you do all you can to succeed overall it doesn't matter much. As far as writing goes, there will always be a place for that sort of prose, as there is for most sorts.

ilima said...

I would call your characters refreshing, and your stories definitely have substance. Tell me anyone who calls you dumb...I'll punch 'em. Seriously, just look at your success. You are REAL and I love that about you!

Suzi said...

I use words like what the crap and awesome too.

And I've been on that end too, where I'm trying to figure out what the joke is. Probably happens with everybody, but like you, we just laugh along.

And I've had those thoughts when it comes to my real job--am I smart enough for this. Especially cause I haven't worked full time in engineering for almost 10 years.

So you''re not the only one. And yes, you are smart enough. And I won't repeat all the reasons why cause everybody else did that above. So just go re-read their comments. :)

Rena said...

A) Don't change a thing (I know you weren't thinking about it, but don't). We love you the way you are.

B) you're smarter than people give you credit for. So you don't come off as a super organized egg head? big deal. People thought I was a dumb blonde until I wore glasses to school. Literally, one day I was an idiot, and the next day, they were asking my opinion on science stuff. (for real). Which means people are prejudiced and not that bright. So your books use the vocabulary of a 12 year old. Most 12 year olds have better vocabulary than most adults. You're smart. You are not a ditz. Yes, people perceive it that way, but that's just a matter of image, and that's something that can be faked.

(and if you want to seem smart, wear glasses, it was the difference between Clark Kent and Superman)

Mark Koopmans said...

Hey Cass,

With all your published books and success, I'd love to be as *dumb* as you.

'Nuff said.

Brandon Ax said...

I can see where you are coming from. I have a friend and he has been labeled dumb quite often. Not even the ditsy kind, like the slow kind. The thing is he processes information in his own way. He is actually very deep. Everyone is different and the fact of the matter is you are an author and a reader. You are talented and have the courage to put yourself out there. I think you are a shinning example of creative intelligence.

Trisha F said...

I've seen some of the reviews where your characters are labelled thus - but I never for a second thought YOU were dumb! And I don't think your characters are either, to be honest.

Anyone who writes like you do is a far cry from dumb. And surely getting good grades in school should be proof of it as well?

Debra McKellan said...

There is a difference between dumb and naive, and while no one wants to be called naive either, for people to label you because your experiences were different...grrrrr. Now I'm mad for you! lol

Just remember that you were SMART, but you just weren't like everyone else, and that's ok. You don't have a big vocabulary? That's alright, too! You're fun and quirky, and we love you!

Nicole said...

The way you've written this post, (insightful, honest and anything but dumb!) kinda counteracts your doubts. :)

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