I kinda sorta realized that I have no sense of my own value. I don’t know if it is the by-product of being an insecure artsy type, whose validation comes mostly from the masses, which – by some not so strange coincidence – hasn’t happened yet. Hal Sparks says the way to break into this very subjective business is to be arrogant and stupid; stupid enough to assume the odds don’t apply to you and arrogant enough to believe the masses will like you whether they know it or not.
I fluctuate rather ineffectually somewhere between these two extremes.
When I entered a writing contest a week ago, I was arrogant. I believed that my first chapter of my book “Love Plus One” would knock everyone off their chair with its fabulousness. It’s funny, it’s entertaining and in my not so biased opinion, it demonstrates great storytelling voice.
Though it never really crept past a 42% user rating no matter how many times I plugged it really didn’t do much to dissuade me.
Not until we fast forward a week when I realize I didn’t make the top ten and you have me feeling quite stupid… but not stupid in the way that keeps me plugging away at this whole author thing.
Instead I feel stupid that I ever tried to pull off a book. I gave away my value and this never ends well. It didn’t make the cut out of the 800 some odd entries so obviously that meant I don’t know enough about human nature or life to adequately mirror it in a book. This has been a big insecurity for me since I began writing in my teens. Thanks to all the books I read back then, I thought I’d have to live this amazingly adventurous life to have anything even remotely interesting to say.
In a lot of ways I still feel like that teenager even as I approach year 41.
41. Gah. That kinda still sticks in the throat. Statistically half of my life is over and I feel like I’m still waiting for it to begin.
And that’s stupid, and not in a good way.
It’s stupid not to value my experiences or my existence. Just because so many of my life lessons were caused by my own stupid mistakes doesn’t mean that they are any less valid. Just because I didn’t go to college doesn’t mean I’m not smart. Just because I’m not traditionally beautiful doesn’t mean I don’t know what it is like to be loved and romanced.
Just because I haven’t sold a book or a screenplay doesn’t mean I don’t have stories worth telling (and selling).
I’ve raised two sons from infancy to manhood – and have done a pretty remarkable job at that.
I have a strong, solid marriage and more than my fair share of great friendships. I know people and I know emotion, everything else is just a matter of research. Especially since all those cosmopolitan writers I revered in my youth I can now see as an adult were full of shit. They were making it up as they went along, they just made it sound like they knew what they were talking about.
That’s what writers do. Write what you know… embellish the rest.
I may not be rich but I have traveled to many interesting places, gotten to know interesting, diverse people and learned about the world in a way that is uniquely my own.
My stories will filter through that prism, and there’s nothing at all wrong with that. In fact, there’s something kinda beautiful about it.
So instead of being stupid-stupid and thinking that every rejection is just one more reason to doubt myself, I’m going to be good-stupid and think that they simply weren’t the ones who could do the job.
Because I’m arrogant enough to know I can do this. The rest of the world is just going to have to catch up.
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