Gillian Harvey: If I don’t start believing in myself, the fun will pass me by

Read the latest column from freelance writer, author and mum-of-five Gillian Harvey.

Today I was interviewed for BBC local radio. I’ve rung the odd radio show in the past (I’ve got a particular talent for remembering song lyrics and used to regularly scoop free CDs in my teens for taking part in a phone-in quiz).

But this time I was asked on to talk about my book.

It mattered.

In the hour before the interview, I could feel the tension build in my body – a stiffness and tingling of limbs. I remained calm on the surface, but was paddling like a duck underneath. A socially awkward duck. A self-conscious, introspective anxious duck who’s putting a brave face on things while having a minor panic attack.

It went okay. The presenter was nice. I only said ‘um’ and ‘er’ forty or fifty times. The only faux pas was when I forgot the name of my favourite book. Whoops!

Part of me longs for the days when authors could live the life of a recluse; when I could have stayed in my drawing room, written with a quill and handed the manuscript to my butler to post without having to Tweet about how excited I was.

But let’s face it, the world we live in is crowded and busy and you can be great at something, but if nobody knows, then it could all be for nothing.

On some level, I must believe in myself, right? Because I wrote about seven novels, had about eleventy-billion rejections but kept on going. So I need to harness that part of myself and bring it to the fore.

I had a confidence coaching session with Natalie Trice this week, who helped me to realise that I can self-deprecate until the cows come home, but that actually if I don’t start believing in myself all the fun of this situation is going to pass me by.

She encouraged me to step outside of myself, think of what I’d achieved and look at it as if I was someone else. And she was right – what’s happening right now is pretty cool.

Take a moment to try it for yourself. If you feel afraid to shout out about yourself, or that you’re just not good enough. Be someone else looking in and get a whole new perspective.

As for me I’m going to try calling myself an author – however fraudulent that feels. I’m going to try to enjoy this moment in time, no matter what comes next. Because if I can’t celebrate the realisation of a dream, there’s not much point having one in the first place.

Gillian Harvey is a writer and mum-of-five. Her debut novel Everything is Fine is out with Orion in May 2020.