I have been a career journalist who has written for numerous publications and sites for decades and it still blindsides me at times when someone isn’t thrilled to have me write for them. Ego? Perhaps. Imposter Syndrome? Definitely. I tell myself if I am all that and a bag of chips, I would land all the gigs I pitch. I grumble to myself about all of the writers whose work isn’t stellar who get book contracts or long term columns in major publications.
Think E.L. James, author of the Fifty Shades of Grey series. Horrible writing…who WAS her editor? I continue to plug away, as do many freelancers. I hear yes (blessedly) some of the time and no and that is a blessing too since when one door closes, another always opens. It took me 20 years to manifest the interview with the Dalai Lama. What I also know is that things are happening behind the scenes that I have no clue about. Several years ago, HuffPo ran an article I wrote called Proud To Be A Total Bitch. Shortly afterward I was contacted by someone who interviewed me on HuffPo Live. With all of that as well as being a regular contributor to The Good Men Project, you would think people would be blowing up my phone insisting that I write for them. And added to that inner pout/rant is that (sigh), Oprah still hasn’t said yes to my countless query letters.
I am part of several Facebook pages for writers. I am equally astounded at how many land big gigs and how many get turned down by major publications when I have seen some of their writing and know it is quality stuff. What is the magic combination, I wonder?
On the flip side, a few months ago, I was hired to write for a marketing firm on a topic I am well accustomed to writing about, which is addiction and recovery. I submitted three well researched and (in my not so humble opinion) well-written articles. The editor tore them to shreds (according to my sometimes fragile ego) and even accused me of plagiarism! Holy moly, Batman. My co-dependent inner kiddo’s gut reaction was to feel like she had done something wrong and maybe this person was right. After the tennis match communication with her, I decided to pull the articles and submit them elsewhere. Such a relief!
Another ego twitch itches when what I consider a brilliant piece of work gets a few nods, but not the viral worldwide whirlwind tour I think it ‘should’. What I have come to accept is that when something I write touches one person, it is of value. I also don’t know what is going on behind the scenes and that something I share from the colorful depths of my imagination or the fire of the furnace of my righteous anger will spark success and the opportunity to expand my literary reach.
I am fascinated by the success stories of notables who had a tough time of it before becoming household names. Some of the most celebrated writers, including Maya Angelou, Stephen King, Octavia Butler, and J.K. Rowling had a hard row to hoe before they struck pay dirt.
Even as I type these words I find myself caught between the two voices of ‘who are you to think you can be on that same level?’ and ‘your work isn’t doing anybody any good in your head, keep writing.’ and one day it just might.
Have you read the original anthology that was the catalyst for The Good Men Project? Buy here: The Good Men Project: Real Stories from the Front Lines of Modern Manhood
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