I am going to a writer’s workshop and I feel like an impostor. I once went to a lecture at a podiatry conference and it didn’t trouble me in the least that I was not a podiatrist. I didn’t terrorize myself with thoughts like, “What if they ask me where I stand on custom versus over-the-counter orthotics?” or “How many plantar fascia releases have you done?” And it should have troubled me because there are rules about who can call themselves a podiatrist, but there are no rules about who can call themselves a writer. And yet, I feel like I do not belong at the writer’s conference. I’m sure everyone who will be there is a “real” writer of one sort or another, whether of books, a syndicated column, a Huffington Post blog, or a blog of their own. I am not even a “real” writer in my own imagination. This is what I picture when I think of a real writer:
- A real writer is up at 5 or 6 am everyday and sits down with a cup of coffee–no, tea–in front of a computer in a lovely room she (shockingly enough) calls her “Writing Room”. The morning sun casts an orange glow through the bay windows. There is a window seat where she sometimes sits, looking out at the sandy beach, lost in thought as characters reveal themselves to her imagination.
- Real writers submit and publish their writing.
- They write books, or columns, or blogs (not just birthday cards for their kids).
- They have an “agent”, although that’s not a requirement.
- A real writer has a website. That is a requirement. And it has a clever name. They would do their due diligence and verify that there weren’t a few dozen others that sound nearly identical to theirs. And if somehow, a fluke occurred and they didn’t realize there were already quite a few similar sounding websites, they would pay $18 to change the name of their website. Because they are writers and writers can write a new website name.
- Real writers know what to say to other real writers at a writers workshop. They don’t have to worry that they’ll say, “Oh sorry, I left my small talker at home taking care of the kids, so I don’t know how to talk to you.”
- Real writers will have identities around writing. They will say, “I have been writing my whole life. I remember writing even in fourth grade. I guess I was a story teller even then…” Whereas I’d say something like, “I have been writing sporadically my whole life, sometimes more, sometimes less, in relation to how much was assigned to me for homework. Under duress from a group of teachers, I once wrote 162 pages, for which I wasn’t paid one red cent.” The real writers would look at me as though wondering whether to pursue this or not, but they’d slowly turn back to each other and ignore me.
- (As an aside, always title your blog post before you start writing, especially after midnight. I would be completely lost without the title of this post, calling to me like a Siren.)
- About the fingernails… Someone who is attending this writers’ conference wrote a blog post about how nervous she is about it. She wonders whether she should get a manicure or whether people will misjudge her for her hoity toity manicure? What if people don’t think she’s as funny in person as in writing? Suddenly I see the silver lining in my situation! She has to worry people will think she’s less funny in person than she is in her numerous books, blogs, etc., whereas I don’t have to worry about being less funny in person because no one has ever read one lousy thing I’ve written (and I have written plenty of lousy things). I feel so much better! Also, while she of the “publications and press” is nervous and can’t decide if she should have a manicure. I, of the “pub-only-under-duress and no press”, am nervous but have no fingernails. I don’t have a thing to get manicured besides an errant cuticle that I will chew off shortly. To help her out with her to-manicure-or-not-to-manicure problem, I will offer to bite her fingernails as well as mine. I think that’s going to help her a lot, and will save me from having to make small talk.