A lot of the time I actually feel decently confident about my writing, which is really a nice and refreshing change from when I was younger, where I was consistently clinging to the idea of getting validation from others via comments or general nice things. And now that I am older and wiser(* well, this is debatable), I still appreciate those things a lot, and getting told I’m pretty can make my entire week, but it’s less of this driving creepy paranoia of but what if I’m really just bad at this and the only way I know I haven’t backslid entirely is because [x] amount of people told me I was pretty. I never tried to hold writing hostage the way I’ve seen people do, but in some ways I think I held my own peace of mind at that proverbial gunpoint, which my friends at the time often had to deal with the behind-the-scenes fallout for.
(To those people, I’m sorry about how intensely needy I was. I’m still grateful for you all putting up with me, here to this day.)
Now I don’t really worry so much about it. I will post things and not get any comments, and that’s fine; I will post stories that make no sales, and that’s also okay. At this point in time, I’m still working a day job; I’m young and I have my health, both physical and mental. I have become more resilient than I think I would have ever believed myself capable of being.
And yet, at the same time, there is a part of me that is like, you are doing it wrong when I go about my daily practices. There’s a certain point where I can call myself a writer, but it feels all rather facetious, like a kid who’s still daydreaming about What I’m Going To Be When I Grow Up. I self-pub; I don’t know how to promote; I am a little fish in a pond that basically consists of the entire internet. There’s a tiny convention for writers in my genre taking place in my city in Seattle, and I’ve had a couple of people encourage me to sign up; I have the registration page open in another tab on Chrome right now and I keep hesitating — and it’s not because of the money. These are actual writers, I keep thinking; these are Writers who have Made It — whatever that nebulous “Made It” actually means (though whatever it is, it is probably all of the things I have not yet managed myself). What am I even doing, trying to call myself a writer?
It’s one of those things that was enough to stop me dead in my tracks a few years ago; it was one of the reasons why I always denied, when my mother asked, that I really wanted to just write for a living. And obviously it hasn’t ever been enough to make me stop entirely, but I think it’s still something I’m learning how to deal with. (And apparently part of my “how do I deal” is to just talk about these same things a lot. Sometimes I visualize my little corner of the internet is actually a canyon where I yell things and my own voice repeats them back in variations.) If I have taken away anything from the past dozen or years, I’d hazard that this really actually is something I really want to do, even if there’s been a lot (a l o t) of stumbling blocks along the way, all invisible until I run facefirst into them.
They’re like growing pains, even though I am about 15 years too old for those. (Or thereabouts; I stopped really growing in terms of height when I was about 14. My parents were terribly disappointed by this.) So I would like to apologize again for any patient people that have been forced to sit through this set of developments in my life; maybe in another five years, I’ll Get It Right and then finally — finally! — I, too, will have Made It.
(Whatever that means.)