That’s (hopefully) not a thing. And if it is, it may be the one thing I’m not afraid of.
I would LOVE to be a paid writer. I have this lofty ambition that I’m going to write something that will be discovered, and someone will appreciate my mad writing skills (bonus points if it involves my mad nostalgia writing skills!) and share it to the world/right people/one person. Or someone will say “Hey! She can write! I want to challenge her to write about (insert topic here).” The truth is, with enough research on something, I too could write something people would want to read. I’m confident in that.
There are days where I’m feeling particularly ambitious, and decide to look up writing opportunities (that wasn’t today, for it is a writing day). Between content mill sites that the experts of the writing world warn about, there are paid opportunities to be found. Opportunities to write lists, opportunities to write humorous pieces, and of course, content mill after content mill. Oh, and expert stuff. If you’re an “expert,” then there are niche sites for you. Did I mention these “expert” sites are usually financial and parenting expert sites? Because I don’t have a financial background, nor am I a mommy. However, if new doggy mommies (I myself am the mom of my boyfriend’s adorable Chihuahua, Daisy) of middle-aged dogs counts for anything, then I’d be happy to contribute anything. Just don’t ask me to write about actual children. That I can’t relate nor contribute to.
I don’t think I actually fear trying to see if I have what it takes to succeed in writing. My actual fear is rejection. I love to write, I know I can write, and I have people whom I don’t compensate nicely that tell me I know how to write. Like right now, I’m not handing those wonderful people ten dollars to agree wholeheartedly with that last statement. I fear the idea that I have people in my corner who tell me that I can write, but it will be some “expert” (I say that in quotes because everyone seems to believe they are an expert these days) who tells me otherwise. Someone who tells me I don’t have the chops for paid writing because, well, I’m only good at nostalgia. Or, I’m not as good as I think I am. That “perhaps you should stick to writing as a hobby.”
Backtrack to that one little shoot-someone-down statement: “you’re not as good as you think you are.”
I had a supvisor at my previous job (ten years ago) that took over the duties of my previous supervisor. The previous supervisor was a nice woman who never had anything negative to say about me. She told me what I needed to improve on, but praised me for what I did well. Bring in the new supervisor, who was to review me after his first four months on the job. Of course, this came after I had to self-evaluate. I felt I was a good employee – honest, hardworking. I made the occasional small mistake, but often caught mistakes in my work before I turned it in. There was nothing I couldn’t problem solve (aside from those darn word problems in math class, which I now am convinced I could conquer). Co-workers and I never had issues. I’m not perfect, but I’m a hard worker.
But the first words out of new supervisor’s mouth were “you’re not as good as you think you are.”
And there you have it. I felt ruined. I got over being told this, but it always stayed in the back of my mind. The thought threatened to come forth, and whenever it did, I just worked harder to forget. I reminded myself that not everyone was that supervisor. I appreciate honesty and constructive criticism, but this was being blunt. And right off the bat. This guy got right to the point.
Years of people honestly telling me my strengths and helping me with improving my weaknesses, years of self-improvement and working hard to overcome anything that could have set me back, and that one little statement could potentially feel like my undoing. I hated hearing that, and I hate when I keep thinking I’m going to hear it. I haven’t heard it since that dreaded day (despite how I knew my supervisor felt, and I worked under him for several more years), but the worry of ever hearing it again has followed me. There are nicer ways to say that, and I’m sure I’ve heard those nicer, more professional ways that don’t feel so “shoot-someone-down-esque,” but not everyone practices that kind of professionalism or tact.
The thing is, I work hard on my hobbyist writing because it is something I love. I treat it like a job – I give myself deadlines, I have “feature” sections for my blog, and I have a writing schedule for both this site and my Retroist work. I work hard because I am striving to improve myself as a writer. I also like to challenge myself on occassion. That’s where writing prompts and pieces like this come in. Those topics serve as a way to keep me on my toes, to look something up, and to motivate me to work out of the box. Plus, it gets the cobwebs out of my head in the morning.
I pour my heart into pieces like this because I am more than “just” a writer. I am “a” writer. I’m more than the topic, I’m also my words. I’m the voice behind those words. I write because it gives me stress release and satisfaction. I write like people aren’t reading, just like dancers dance like no one is watching (I danced for 22 years, so I know how to do that too!). People watched me dance, and people read my work. I love compliments and praise, but I also take satisfaction from committing to a piece and finishing it.
As I wrap this up, I will be very honest with you (if nothing here has been honest!). When I started writing this particular piece, I knew I wanted to tell you about how I felt about writing, but also about the fear of being told it isn’t good enough. It is a fear that follows me everytime I try to seek out a paid opportunity, but I haven’t stopped looking. Of course, I haven’t stopped hoping for a “discovery” moment.
Also, if you’ve ever heard “you’re not as good as you think you are,” remember this, as it is something I remind myself of everytime I put fingers to keyboard, or pen to paper: You are good enough to those who matter. If someone doesn’t think you’re good enough, then show them what other people value in you. I will try that the day I find a paid writing opportunity, or any opportunity, I find to be the perfect fit for me.