This post is part of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group blog hop. The first Wednesday of every month is Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. The awesome co-hosts for the January 7 posting of the IWSG will be Elizabeth Seckman, Lisa Buie-Collard, Chrys Fey, and Michelle Wallace!
I recently filled out a long and complicated questionnaire for my publisher’s marketing department. This form contained about a million questions, but boiled down to “tell the class a little about yourself.” Only in this case, the entire class seems smarter, more well-read, better educated, and more prolific than me. Some of the questions I had to put a big fat N/A next to because they didn’t apply to me in any way, shape, or form. I felt like I stood up, talked a little (very little) about myself, and the rest of the class is going to be like “who let this unwashed peasant in here?”
A lot of writers come to the publishing industry with writing-related kudos already under their belt: they have a degree in the arts or literature, they taught classes, they spoke at seminars, they helped another writer out with their book, they know people, they won awards. Their bios are long and illustrious and read like a Nobel Prize winner’s list of accomplishments. Their names have lots of official letters behind them. If you are one of these writers, great job! And also, you intimidate me.
I am, for lack of a better description, a self-taught writer. That doesn’t mean I never took a class, but I didn’t take many classes. I’ve read a lot of books. I’ve learned a lot about storytelling, structure, and grammar on my own. My hunger for the art made me seek out knowledge (free knowledge, because I’m broke). I’m going to admit something that will make most published authors gasp, probably: I never went to college. I barely graduated high school. I’m a bartender. That’s my day job. I’ve also waited tables and done a lot of other crap jobs over the years. I am not ‘educated’ in the traditional sense, but I know a lot about the world. And I think I’m pretty smart, darn it.
Still, despite the lack of letters behind my name, I have a three book deal with a New York publishing house. I have multiple short stories and novellas published. Universe willing, this will be the year I can maybe, possibly, quit my day job and make a living off my writing. Not rolling around in money mind you, just paying the bills. And I did it by 90% just learning how to on my own. Does that make me better than anyone who went to college, taught classes, and conducted seminars? Goodness no, it makes me feel like a piece of gross, dried-up gum on the bottom of their shoes.
The form I filled out seemed a little unfair. It felt like they were asking me to prove how smart I am. Show off my non-existent awards. Prove I’m worthy. It’s enough to make me crawl in a hole. However, I’m not going to crawl in a hole. I’m an author, even if I didn’t get there on the same road as most other authors did. I got there still, dammit. I’ll fake it until I make it, as I’ve done throughout my entire life.
So, here’s to those of you who don’t have kudos and awards to show off, who don’t have the education to back up what you do, who feel inferior. I’m not going to feel bad. I’m going to be myself, because being myself got me here.
I’m just gonna shrug and say, “Hey, you guys contracted my books. Wanna know my skills? I make a mean Bloody Mary!”
(A bit of self-pimping before I go: if you like urban fantasy, you can currently sign up to win one of two copies of my upcoming urban fantasy The Wicked City on Goodreads! Contest closes January 31st.)