Last week, we had a great discussion in the comments about whether we call ourselves writers or authors. In general, we agreed that while we don’t judge others by what they call themselves, we each have our reasons for what we call ourselves. Many echoed the idea that we want to feel legitimate before we’ll be comfortable using a certain title.
Legitimacy. That’s an important concept for writers.
We don’t have a normal boss or company that we work for, so we struggle to create an internal sense of legitimacy about our work. We often feel like we’re faking it, hoping no one uncovers our secret. Maybe we’re deluding ourselves by thinking we have talent and/or skill. Maybe we really don’t have a clue.
Some of us want to pursue traditional publishing just so we have that external voice confirming that this writing gig is real. Some will feel validated by getting an agent, or by selling so many copies of our books, or by obtaining a cover blurb from an author we admire.
There’s no limit to the things that can make us feel legitimate. And sometimes, the realization of “Holy cow, this is real!” comes from unexpected sources: a request for a manuscript, a beta reader who loves our work, a comment on our blog from a “real” author.
Yesterday, Rachel Graves and I got the news that our workshop proposal has been accepted for the Romance Writers of America (RWA) National Conference. *excuse me while I breathe into a paper bag for a second* Um, wow, crap, holy cow, I wasn’t expecting that.
No, really. I wasn’t expecting that.
This isn’t some little local gathering for writers. This is the RWA National Conference. One of the biggest writing conferences in the world. Over 2100 attendees. They receive hundreds upon hundreds of proposals, and they invite only around 100 of those to speak at the conference.
This might not be a big deal for a published author, but for me, this heaps a whole lot of legitimacy onto my publishing goals. As Rachel reacted when I explained to her what this signified, “Wait, don’t they know who we are?”
Meaning, don’t they know who we aren’t?
I’m not published yet, and while Rachel has a three-book contract with Tor, she’s “pre-published” because her debut doesn’t come out until the end of the year. Who are we to get up in front of hundreds of people and claim to know enough to teach them about something?
But then I stopped and thought about it. Our workshop is DEVELOP A FREE AUTHOR WEBSITE IN 60 MINUTES (OR LESS!). And you know what? I do know how to speak about that.
I created this website/blog from scratch, completely customizing every aspect of the site, and I taught myself some css and php programming to get WordPress to do what I wanted. Rachel knows even more about the technical stuff, the whole alphabet soup of programming languages. Between us, we can create a basic website with our eyes closed.
Why did it take an external acknowledgement of my knowledge and abilities for me to take it seriously? *sigh* Because I’m human.
Sometimes we dismiss just how much we know. Or we think the knowledge is so basic everyone must know it. Or we fail to give ourselves credit for knowing it at all.
So sometimes we need that external recognition to show us what’s right in front of us. We know stuff. We really do. Our knowledge, skills, and talents mean something.
Most importantly, we need to recognize one basic truth about ourselves. We are legitimate as long as we take our work seriously and keep learning new things.
What makes you feel legitimate? Are you able to recognize your own skills and talents, or do you need external reminders and validation? Are you going to the RWA 2012 National Conference (RWA12)? (Will we get to meet up? *smile*)
And a major shout out to Rachel, who did most of the work on the proposal because I was under deadline for the Golden Heart contest! *fist bump, high five, confetti, and hugs*Pin It