Monday, August 8, 2011
To Not Feel Worthless
I had a different plan for today, but I changed my mind and decided to write something I kind of need to hear.
The further I get into a writing career, the more I come up against interesting and unexpected challenges. One that I didn't expect to hit me as hard as it has is the perspective of other people on a writing career. There are certain careers or paths that are automatically seen as admirable or successful--doctors and lawyers, for instance. A beginning writer, working on no one else knows what, as yet unpublished, working at any kind of day job to make ends meet while they write, does not fit in to this category. The romance and excitement of that kind of life is shared by those in the same situation, but not by many others.
Even if no one says anything directly, there still seems to be this sense that they don't have the confidence in your hiding away in front of your computer that you do, that they don't understand why you're not more independent or working towards a more obviously stable job, and an occasionally hurtful general air of disappointment. They seem to expect more of you, and what they don't understand is that you expect much much more from yourself too--it's just going to take a while. When others around you are taking noticeably quicker paths to success, comparisons are unavoidable. It can't help but deflate or even invalidate the fact that you're working hard and doing the best you can.
So here's what I want to say to the world, myself, and anyone else who sometimes feels this way:
We ARE working hard, and what we're doing is just as legitimate as other work. Yes, that includes the blog posts about Harry Potter and random YouTube videos. It all serves a purpose. Just give us time.
And besides. Who's place is it to judge?
Don't flatter yourself that no one else feels this way. Probably everyone does at some point. That's why writing groups and blog communities are great, because you meet people who do see the value in what you're doing, even if it hasn't fully paid off yet.
Rome wasn't built in a day, and J.K. Rowling didn't become J.K. Rowling overnight. Give yourself time.
And whose to say J.K. Rowling or Stephanie Meyer still don't feel this way sometimes? I doubt anyone is safe from sometimes feeling like a disappointment to someone.
So really, we should just get over it, right? The only people we need to prove ourselves to is ourselves. Much easier said than done, though. It makes the work a little harder when the validation is mostly internal. But keep going. We know that what we're doing is worthwhile, and eventually more and more people will see it that way too.
And I'll leave you with an amazing song that I think makes this point beautifully. It's called 'Wanted' by the stunningly talented Rachel Diggs.
Happy writing! What you're doing is important. By you I mean YOU.