“What are you doing with yourself these days?”
Twenty-years ago, someone asked me that question from the next aisle over in the grocery store… and I flinched. “I type,” was my response. “I type… a lot.”
What the what? I had just published my first novel. The advance wasn’t huge, and at the time, I didn’t know there wouldn’t be royalties following that. But why did I balk when asked a simple question?
I think I was waiting for permission to call myself a writer. I knew that novel was not the first one I had written, nor was it going to be my last. I planned to make a career of it, and I don’t think it’s just 20-20 hindsight saying that now. I knew, even twenty years ago, that I was doomed, er, destined to be a storyteller… via one medium or another.
Yet, imposter syndrome seems to be a common denominator amongst writers… and artists in general. I think it’s because committing to one of the fine arts does not necessarily come with a decree.
“I, the Great and Powerful Gatekeeper, doth declare ye to be a writer, artist, professional puppeteer…” Whatever.
So the next time someone asks you, “what are you doing with yourself these days,” don’t hesitate. Don’t ask for permission. If you know it to be your life’s trajectory, own it.
Are you waiting for permission to join a writers’ group? Start your own. Want to get more/any speaking gigs? Don’t wait for permission/invitations. Outline a workshop on a topic near-and-dear to you, submit it to conferences, and while you wait, build a platform and credibility by writing another book.
Don’t give anyone else permission to limit you. Go thee. Be a… writer. Hone your craft, do it, do it better the next time, and even better the time after that, then just own it.