If you asked me what the hardest thing about being a writer is, my answer would be simple: taking myself seriously. No matter how much I’ve published or accomplished, I have almost always had a problem with seeing myself as a ‘real’ writer. In fact, I often feel the same now with a collection and two novels to my name that I did before I submitted my first poems to my high school lit mag. There’s always that lingering feeling that someday I’ll be a poet or an author, and that someday is always just around the corner.
So when would I consider myself ‘real’? When I’ve won more awards? When I’ve done a residency? When I publish more collections; a full series of installments? By judging my authenticity on goals alone I’ve set myself up for a slippery slope that leads to never truly accepting myself for what I dream of being.
This doesn’t just kill my personal motivation (why submit today when j can do it later, when I’m a real writer?). I end up slacking on my own deadlines and going weeks without submitting or updating my sites. I put off creating poem graphics or participating on writing sites because I feel insecure. I sell myself short when I talk to even the closest of my family and friends, afraid that I’ll lose face if I can’t present as a ‘real’ writer.
The only cure comes from taking myself seriously. Now, as I am in this moment and with what little I have accomplished. I am a real writer because I write, not because of how much I’ve published or how much I plan to publish. It is worth telling people about; worth sharing. It is real work, and I am allowed to be proud (within reason) of my efforts. I have no obligation to downplay or hide my accomplishments.
And it takes work. This past year I’ve done a poor job of taking myself seriously and at times that has made me run the risk of completely sabotaging my own dreams. Nothing got done, I barley submitted new work once every couple of months and my production of new work slowed to one or two poems here and there. I picked up the pen plenty- but I didn’t take myself seriously enough to follow through with any of my ideas. Those could wait for a ‘real’ writer, I kept telling myself.
This year I wish to dedicate myself to my work, to take it as seriously as I would my relationships, my health and my education. I will make deadlines, set schedules and refuse to compromise as I would with any other part of my life. I will imbue my work with purpose and fight harder against neglect and complacency. I will allow myself a healthy amount of pride in finished work, and push past the insecurities that keep me from believing that my work is too amateur yet to share. 2015 is going to be my year of redefinition and rededication as a writer. I’m excited to see where that will take me!
In what ways have you failed to take yourself seriously in the past year, and what could you do to fix that in 2015?