Every time I begin a new book, I doubt my skills to make it happen. Just last week I told my husband as we cooked dinner: “I keep wondering if my first books were chance, luck, my best ideas used up.” He shook his head, marveling at my silliness, telling me as always that I think too hard. But invariably when I write, I wonder, “Am I pretending to be a writer or am I really a writer, and how do I know the difference?”
Any writer who thinks they have arrived are not writers to read. I’ve learned that much in this crazy business. The biggest names in the business continue to improve on their craft, their brand, their storytelling ability. We start as novices, then we advance to mid-level where we’ve learned a few things, but we aren’t masters. We make some money, but not enough to crow about. Many of us quit along the way, because that doubt takes hold and wins. Others weather through that insecurity over and over, dying at a higher rung on the ladder or choosing to climb higher. But nobody is immune to the feeling that they are trying to be something they are not.
Just like we’re supposed to turn off our internal editor as we write, we should invest ourselves in a story for the sake of storytelling, not for the dream of fame and wealth. It’s those who continue writing, those who write because they simply enjoy the experience, those who fight to be better without putting a dollars and cents measurement on the investment, who wake up one day after writing day after day and realize they’ve actually done something decent and earned a degree of respect.
It’s not a flash in the pan. It sneaks up on you . . . assuming you’re still around.
The legitimate reward of writing is the writing itself. Your job is to write and make it a part of your being. Of course you want people to appreciate your work, but that’s the gravy, people.
Improve, improve, improve. Then after years of daily diligence, someone just might recognize you as an overnight wonder. But if not, no big deal. Writing is what you would do with your life anyway.