Tuesday, May 22, 2012

You Are Not A Fraud

...unless you steal people's identities as a hobby, or are living undercover, or actually a hologram.  Then I guess you are a fraud.

But I assume that the lion's share of my blog readers are none of the above.  I also assume that many of my readers are writers - whether published, whether just starting out, whether a hobbyist. . . 

And even you aren't . . .

I still think this post speaks to most of us, no matter what our profession and passion.

And what it is saying is . . .

You are not a fraud.

Just take that in.

You aren't.  I swear.  You're doing just fine, you are following your path, and you are working the way that you need to.  Maybe you need to reevaluate how you've been going about doing things, maybe some things aren't working, but that still doesn't mean you're a fraud.  You are a real whatever it is you do. 

Um . . . Adrienne?  You okay?  What are you going on about exactly?


I've written in the past how important it is not to compare your personal journey to anyone else's.  Why?  Well for one thing it's something I really need to remind myself of on a constant basis.  And when I need to remind myself of something, I tend to think there might other people out there who share my delightful thought patterns and so why not blog about it.  For another thing, it is very much true, comparing oneself to others is pointless and often detrimental.  It's not worth it.

But I do, on occasion, compare.  I see the writing habits of another author, the marketing habits etc.  And I see that I don't do the same thing.  And I wonder, even now, with a third book coming out . . . am I not a real writer?  I don't do what they do, and he/she is very clearly a real writer . . . OMG, that can only mean one thing!  I'm a fraud!!!!

Only I'm not.

I'm a writer.  I know it.  I also know that the way I approach writing and all that other fun stuff is the way I approach it.  I am not Author X anymore than Author X is me.  And that's okay.  I'm doin' my own thing and it's cool man, it's cool.

And all this should be super obvious except it isn't.  Not when you look online and see the barrage of advice being offered by people who each have their own methods of working and they somehow think that this is the ultimate and only way authors should work.

You have people insisting (just examples here)...

... you HAVE to write every day.
...you HAVE to write short stories before you write a novel.
...you HAVE to spend specifically X amount of time marketing.
...you HAVE to angst.

And if you aren't doing those things?  Uh oh.  I'M A FRAUD!!!!!!

But zis?  Zis ist a lie!

There is only one thing you have to do.  Figure out what works best for you.  That's all.  Experiment, try different HAVE TOs and find the one that makes the difference.

That's the thing about the arts.  There is no one right way to do it.  That's why people can get so overwhelmed because there isn't an easy how-to book, "If you do this that and the other thing you'll write a bestselling novel!"  And while most people who engage in the arts know this, and stay away from such evil absolutes as I posted above (evil only in that they are absolutes, the advice they offer can be useful if it works for you, maybe angst is right up your alley), there will always be those few rotten eggs who insist that their way is the ONLY way.  And for some reason, that minority manages to make a lot more noise than the sane reasonable majority.

So we feel self doubt.

And I am here to tell you, don't.  Don't doubt.  Don't waste time and energy on worrying you aren't doing it right.  Just do.  For that is the only way to find out what works for you: doing.  Make mistakes.  Learn from them.  And guess what, even if you make a mistake (which you will, we all do), you're STILL not a fraud.

Find your method and embrace it because it's yours. 

And that's it.  That's my point. But I'll say it one more time . . .

You are not a fraud.

Unless your last name is Fraud.

Then you are.

Monday, May 07, 2012

A Story About Ted

Several years ago I was flying to a friend's wedding and waiting at a counter in the airport to speak with someone about some flight issue or something.

Embedded in the counter was a TV and on it was a sort of screensaver.  I was flying United, and their cheaper airline is called Ted.  So they had two airplanes on the TV, one with the United logo, one with the Ted logo.  One plane was facing one direction and was close up, the other was facing the other direction and was in the distance.  Then they would zoom off in their respective directions and then reappear in each other's spot.  Etc.

Basically it was meant to look like the planes were flying in a circle.

A little boy was also watching the screensaver.

Eventually, because I was still waiting and a little bored and the kid was cute, I did what I tend to do around kids. Engage them in conversation.

"They're flying in a circle," I said.


"Yes, they are.  See there's Ted," I pointed to the Ted plane in the background.  The planes whooshed off the screen.  I think, but I am not 100% sure, that I made a whooshing sound when this happened.  "And now there's Ted!"  I pointed to Ted now in the foreground.

The kid was silent.  Just watching the screen.

So I kept talking and pointing:  "There's Ted. . . and there's Ted!  There's Ted again, and there's Ted! . . ."  And you pretty much get the point.

And still the boy said nothing, just stared at the screen.

Eventually the woman at the counter was ready to help me, so we started talking and then, loudly, totally unexpectedly a little voice from beside me:

"And there's Steve!"

This moment makes me laugh every time I think about it.  Maybe it was the boy's dad's reaction - he had been silently observing our interaction the whole time - just sort of bewildered and amused saying, "Steve?"

Maybe it's the sheer absurdity of where the heck did he get Steve from.

But for whatever reason, it was one of those little moments that happen in life that I am very grateful for. :) 

What are some of your Ted stories??