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I’m not one of the cool kids.

IWSG badgeThis 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.)

Megan Morgan View All

Urban fantasy and paranormal romance author.

20 thoughts on “I’m not one of the cool kids. Leave a comment

  1. I think you are awesome, and I’ll take a very tame Bloody Mary. I’m a lightweight.

    On another note, I am well educated and went to well-respected schools. That doesn’t mean anything, though. I learned nothing about life (or writing) in the class-room. I still know nothing about writing, structure, grammar. I just keep writing anyway.

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  2. Looks to me that you have a wealth of life experiences, all the best writers do. The degree, the kudos, the whatever. They mean squat if you don’t have the drive to create. And, plus, you need to be free to be original. Sometimes, those classes and credits stifle real creativity. Congrats on your success. Hold your head up high. You are successful!
    Play off the Page

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  3. I think it’s great that you’ve accomplished so much by self-teaching! I’ve always been a huge advocate of learning on your own. That being said, I also love school and ended up choosing that path for myself, but I envy people with no student loans! There’s no single path. Whatever you’ve done, has worked and you should be proud! 🙂

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  4. Oh I feel the same way! Never did English literature at school, did a Science degree at University (College) where I spent three years having my creativity squashed because I ‘needed to write in a more scientific manner’.

    I’ve barely been on any courses about writing, and anything I have done has been online as I’m a bit of a hermit crab. I suppose what it boils down to is that I never had enough confidence in my writing to put the time and money of degrees and courses. I’m sometimes too sensible for my own good and have always put ‘what will keep the rent paid’ above ‘what I love to do’.

    Luckily I fell out of my science degree and into teaching which I’ve discovered that I love to bits. Hopefully all the time spend around teenagers will allow me to write in a YA voice successfully!

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    • I’m really glad I’m not the only one who didn’t (or couldn’t) follow the ‘traditional’ route while gathering accolades along the way. I guess that’s what the IWSG is all about–finding out you’re not alone in your insecurities!

      Thanks for stopping by!

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  5. I’m with you–that would intimidate me. Make that their problem. If those types of accolades are important, they can figure out how to rephrase your accomplishments to fit their form. What you bring to the party is a great story.

    Good enough.

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  6. I’ve had some of the same worries. I did finish college, but my degree is not in writing or English literature or anything like the degrees of most other writers. I’m sort of stuck in a dead end office job. But someone told me at a writing conference that not having the usual degrees or intellectual accolades is an advantage because it means you’re not going to write the same tired stories that almost every other writer produces. Your voice will stand out. That doesn’t guarantee success, this person explained to me, but it helps a lot more than you might realize.

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  7. I didn’t have any of the things that you mentioned other writers have when they come into the publishing industry when I contracted my first eBook. I’m also a self-taught writer, and I did not graduate high school, but I made it…sort of. I’m not a famous or have a ton of sales, but I’m published and proud. 🙂 And you know what, three book deals with a New York publishing house is amazing! You did it with out all of that stuff. You have done what I can’t even do. So way to go and keep it up!

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  8. Good for you & well said! Who cares about letters after names, cv’s & that bull at the end of the day? Are you a published author or not? Obviously you are. You did it your way & the accomplishment is even greater than the well worn boring path!

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