I wrote a short story entitled Answering the Bell about a fatherless girl in high school training to be a boxer. She has all the problems of a typical student-athlete; mom, school, boys. I submitted the story to an anthology entitled, Shatter Your Image, by Thomas A. Fowler’s Nerdy Things Publishing. The story was accepted and is now available on Amazon in paperback and e-book.
All proceeds will go to a lovely charity called Realize Your Beauty, which teaches healthy body image to girls of all ages. (www.realizeyourbeauty.org)
I’m proud of this story. It’s my first attempt at writing a female protagonist, as well as my first attempt at a literary story. (I guess I define literary as not having an obvious genre hook to hang on to.) Check it out. Thomas Fowler is planning a Denver book signing party. When it happens, I will let all of you know!
Artists have a reputation for being quite emotional. You’re either perceived as being high strung, histrionic, or bipolar. All of which may be true at one point or another. (I tend to be histrionic, myself.) I think these perceptions come from two main areas. The struggle of trying to make money from your art, and the struggle to earn the title of artist. Whenever you try to take that title for yourself, up pops imposter syndrome.
You know what I’m talking about.
That little voice in your head that says your art is a joke. It tells you that you don’t belong in this rarified world. You’re worse than an amateur, you’re a fraud. Real artists will laugh at how bad your art is. They’ll pretend not to see you in public because you embarrass them.
Imposter syndrome. It’s real. I suffer from it. Other artists I know suffer from it. It’s very common.
For me it strikes when I tell people I’m a writer and they give me that quizzical look. Like, I used the wrong word in a sentence and they’re wondering if they heard it right.
“What? You can’t make money at that.”
“Aren’t you the dreamer!”
“Oh (uncomfortable silence,) that’s interesting.”
I immediately get defensive.
I tell them I’ve been blogging for over a year now. That I was editor-in-chief of an online magazine. I tell them I’ve been traditionally published four times.
None of those things matter. And they shouldn’t.
The truth is that I shouldn’t care, but I do. I want the respect and (if I’m being honest,) adulation of all around me. When I don’t get it, Imposter Syndrome rears its ugly head. Why I get upset about what a passing acquaintance says about me, I’ll never know. I think we’re all wired to want, at some level, the approval of our community, of our tribe.
The problem is that these people don’t matter. I could publish a book, invite them to my book signing, track them down when they don’t show
up, and give them a free, autographed copy and they still would be skeptical. In addition, their opinion of me still wouldn’t matter.
I define who & what I am. The same should be true for you, too.
Look, I have a secret to tell you. There are no gatekeepers anymore.
I don’t have to have a book deal with Penguin or St. Martin’s Press. I don’t have to be interviewed by the Today Show, or MSNCBC. I don’t need any of that to call myself a writer. All I need is to give myself permission to be a writer. The rest is about the work.
It’s about getting up, every day, and finding time to write, edit, & market. You gotta do the work. Eventually, people will see the work you do and acknowledge you as the artist you are – or they won’t. Either way it doesn’t matter.
Walt Disney once said “We don’t make movie to make money. We make money to make more movies.” It was always about the art.
As you explore the art you love, dig deep into to it, immerse yourself in its workings and craft, you won’t care what people think. You’ll begin to reshape your vision of yourself. You will shatter your image, pick up the shards of your former self, and recast it into something you recognize, something beautiful.
That will be all the recognition you need.
You can like Jason’s Facebook Author page at Jason Henry Evans
or, follow Jason on Twitter @evans_writer