You’re Where You Are Because of Who You Are (but that ain’t necessarily a bad thing)

Recently, a blog post caught my eye in which a writer was coming to terms with her station and progressor lack thereofin life, and not a day later two different writers contacted me (one via DM and the other email) expressing similar concerns.

It doesn’t take knowing me long to suss out that I’m not a believer in a great many things. I’m also not the most observant person when it comes to spotting signs, but Life isn’t exactly subtle when it gives you the old elbow to the ribs and suggests you write about a particular topic.

So, this post is dedicated to the older crowdage being relative, of coursewho aren’t quite sure they’re meant to be a writer, despite the deep-down sense that urges them to touch pen to page. Doubt is a bastard of a beast that silently creeps in and builds its nest in your confidence and only rears its ugly head when you look at your writing and whispers, “You aren’t where you should be for someone your age. Maybe you’re just not good at it because a great writerhell, even a competent onewould be further along by now, don’t you think?

This couldn’t be further from the truth.

Writing doesn’t come with a sell-by date and it doesn’t give a damn how long in the tooth you are. Don’t believe me? Do your research. In your info gathering, you’ll no doubt discover that Laura Ingalls Wilder was 60 when she first published her “Little House” series, Raymond Chandler sold his first pulp crime short story at 45, Richard Adams was 50 when “Watership Down” went to press, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. So, the question I put to you is, if they can do it, why can’t you as well?

The mere fact that you’re questioning yourself and your abilities probably means you’re meant to be a writer. And who knows, maybe the words you write will help change the world in some small way or impact the lives of your audience. And even if that isn’t the case, should you feel that something is missing and recognize that the world, in spite of its diversity and splendor, simply is not enough and that your dreams are so much bigger than the reality that surrounds you…why not write about it?

If the yearning is gnawing at your sanity, the onus is on you to hang your self-doubt on the coat rack (don’t worry, you can pick it up on your way out), stuff your excuses in an old cigar box, give perfectionism the night off, mine your soul for inspiration and when you hit a gold vein, start writing. And embrace what comes out. If it’s messy, let it be messy, chaotic, or terrifying, just turn the editor off and keep moving forward. You’ll have plenty of time to edit your piece after you’ve finished writing it.

One last thing before I sign off, whenever I got myself into trouble and grounded as a kid (which happened a lot but don’t judge me…sometimes you have to do a little wrong to know what’s right), my mother used to say, “You’re where you are, because of who you are” and maybe that applies to you when it comes to writing. Perhaps you’re meant to be the age you are at this very moment, filled with your own unique life experiences, to start writing that project that’s been pestering you for so long.

So, push the ages of the recent crop of bestselling authors out of your mind and follow your calling. Comparing the fruits of their labor to your current lack of same is ridiculous (and frankly, their success is none of your goddamned business). All you can do is your best, so get to writing, will ya?

I wish you nothing but the very best of luck in completing your piece (and enjoy the process while you’re at it).

This has been a public service announcement from The Old Geezer’s Unasked For Nickel’s Worth of Free Advise Dispensing Committee.

44 responses to “You’re Where You Are Because of Who You Are (but that ain’t necessarily a bad thing)

  1. I hate to break the news to you, Rhyan – but it appears to me you’re loaded with some wisdom! Keep writing insightful posts packed with wisdom! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  2. It’s hard for me to not give in to self-doubt. I put myself down more times than I’m comfortable admitting because you hit my inner voice nail on the head because I know I should be further along, if not already published then better able to tell a story.

    And every time I think I’m starting to get a handle on it a switch clicks in my head and I start veering down that same old destructive path again. Your post makes me feel a little better about my situation because now I know I’m not the only one who feels this way.

    Thank you for the encouragement and positive attitude, this was a read I needed, Rhyan. 😀🙏

    Liked by 1 person

    • There’s an aphorism that I have pinned on the corkboard above my monitor, “illegitimi non carborundum.” It’s mock-Latin for “Don’t let the bastards grind you down.”

      I’m talking about the little things—–the offhanded comments, the pieces of friendly advice, the hard doses of reality—meant for your own good, of course—that chip away at your self-confidence bit by bit and makes you want to turn your back on writing. This includes your inner voice when it causes you to doubt yourself.

      Maybe you’re no good at it, maybe you’ll never make it as a writer, maybe you’ll never finish that novel, maybe you’ll never get your name out there, maybe no one will ever pay you for what you’ve written. So what? I’ve said it once before but it bears repeating: if you want to write, write.

      You don’t need to justify your desire to do so, Suranne. Ever. To anyone.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. What an inspirational and helpful post! It’s good to see that other people share the worries.
    You could have written about me, I have these insecurities, too. What bugs me, apart from self-doubt, is life. Work is demanding time from me, how dare they? I want to spend time with the family, the dog, friends, read, sleep… there just isn’t enough time in a day/life. And then an author says–can’t remember who, getting old–if you don’t write everyday and this isn’t your main focus, you’re not a writer. (paraphrased). So…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Life certainly has that annoying habit of getting in the way, doesn’t it? And I couldn’t give a tinker’s damn what so-called established authors think makes a person a writer. Just as with everything else in life, it’s different bikes for different likes. If you have the desire to write and you write when you can…you’re a writer in my book. Busybody authors need to tend to their own craft and leave others to their own devices.

      Cheers for the read and compliment, GH!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. “If the yearning is gnawing at your sanity, the onus is on you to hang your self-doubt on the coat rack (don’t worry, you can pick it up on your way out), stuff your excuses in an old cigar box, give perfectionism the night off, mine your soul for inspiration and when you hit a gold vein, start writing. And embrace what comes out. If it’s messy, let it be messy, chaotic, or terrifying, just turn the editor off and keep moving forward. You’ll have plenty of time to edit your piece after you’ve finished writing it.”

    I love this. And it’s true. For myself, not a day goes by where I tell my mind outloud to shut the bleep up when that self-doubt emerges. Very motivational and inspiring read, Rhyan. It’s so refreshing to hear this especially from another writer, and I agree we should all enjoy the process.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The simplest rule is often overlooked. When embarking on any endeavor where you build something from nothingness, the goal should always be to create your project—be it literary, visual, auditory, or what have you—for an audience of one: yourself.

      There’s an old chestnut that goes, “Nothing is written, it’s rewritten,” so your initial goal should be to get the idea out of your head and onto the page in whatever form it exists. After that, if you want to adjust it for a particular audience or genre, at least you’ve got the hardest part out of the way.

      And as for dealing with that negative backseat driver voice in your head, there’s a verse from a song by The Carpenters, “Sing” that should be adjusted and adopted by all creative types, “Don’t worry that it’s not good enough for anyone else to hear, just sing, sing a song.”

      I could bang on about this all day but I’d only be repeating what I wrote in the post, so I’m officially stepping off my soapbox.

      Cheers for the read and comment, Kirsten, and you’ve got nothing to worry about. You’re a fine writer.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Haha! That service announcement is the only thing that you’re a little wrong about it. The old geezer is indeed an experienced gentleman, and his wisdom and advice are more than five cents. Rhyan, I’m not sure if I should smile, get teary-eyed, or just fold my hands and say thank you for such a heart-touching post. You have given hope to many and that’s a wonderful feeling. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. This was interesting – I didn’t know that Richard Adams was so ‘old’ when he published Watership Down.

    I think there’s a difference between success in writing and success in publishing. Some people are happy just to put the words down on the page and get out the story that’s in their head or burdening their heart. That takes practice and patience, but you’re the only person you have to please with that.

    Publishing is a whole nother beast. Having worked in publishing, I know that what gets published is no indication of what’s ‘good’. It’s just that it’s sellable – and publishers are terrible cowards about trying something new. The world that published Watership Down and Little House on the Prairie was very different to our crowded, digitized, heavily marketed world of publishers who know very little about literature but a lot about money.

    I have to remind myself again and again that I write well enough, have half-decent ideas, but that ‘literary fiction’ never made ANYONE any money and that it’ll always have to be squeezed in between other jobs. Some of the soul-searching that goes on when you can’t get published is beneficial: I had to admit to myself that I wanted to be published so that I could have a good old complain to the world in general about how it had wronged me and what rotters everyone (who would, naturally, spend $17.99 to be told this) was.

    I was angry because The World Hadn’t Cared – and it wouldn’t published my whiney stuff because The World Still Didn’t Care.(Remember, only really smart people can bang their head off a brick wall AND complain about the wall’s treatment of them). After a while, I gave up sending things to magazines and publishers because I got sick of the rejections and the feeling that I had to fit into a marketplace to get published. As you say, you are where you are because of who you are, and I guess that makes me a sideliner – what I have to work on now is accepting that.

    An interesting read 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Agreed, there’s a big difference between writing and getting published. The purpose of the post was simply to offer encouragement for writers wallowing in the quagmire of self-doubt to touch pen to paper, shift an untold story from the ether to the page, and get out of their own way during the process.

      It only takes reading a sampling of books on a bestselling list to discover “good” stories (those that sell) are relative and vary from genre to subgenre. And you’re also right that today’s market and reader attention span is vastly different from the days of Watership and Little House. I used them as references because I was addressing an older crowd who might not be familiar with the works of Barbara Chase-Riboud, Richard Overy, or Diane McKinney-Whetstone, modern-day authors who got their start in their “golden years.”

      Cheers for the read, the comment, and for sharing a bit of your writer’s journey. It’s greatly appreciated and I wish you nothing but the best of luck in all your writing endeavors.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Feverishly googles these other authors – Richard Overy is the only one I’ve heard of. I’m hopeless with new things; it’s what comes from going to a university that regarded 1951 as ‘contemporary’ lol. I love the expression ‘get out of their own way.’ I recently had a horrible and ridiculous experience where I burst into tears attempting to play the piano for my family. I’ve recently taken it up again and have horrible, awful performance nerves – for no real reason. My father told me that I should get over myself (which was kind of rich, since I think he’s the one who instilled the performance nerves in me), but the idea that YOU stand in your own way is so so true.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Wise words from your mother … I may have to print it and place it near my writing space. I believe writing is very personal. It’s fears twin. We hesitate exposing our thoughts because of judgements. Isn’t that what freezes us from writing? The fear that someone will think we are strange because of what we’ve written.
    You’ve given us a lot to think about . A nicely placed ‘Kick in the Butt’ post. Thanks
    Isadora 😎

    Liked by 1 person

    • Over the years, out of all the writing courses I’ve taken and books I’ve read, after wading through all the fluff and filler, the two key truths I’ve embraced about the writing process are 1) Nothing is written, it’s rewritten (get it on the page in its raw and ugly form, then make it pretty later); and 2) A true writer has no secrets (hence the term “bleeding on the page”) and fear, during the process, needs to take a seat in the back of the bus.

      I think I might have mentioned this before (I’m getting up in age and repeating myself comes with the territory) I speak my mind and express my opinions, not offensively, just honestly. I never proselytize or browbeat, I simply do not hide the things that I feel or believe in. It’s cost me friendships in real life and “relationships” (some folks become more than simply “readers”) online, but as the song goes, “I gotta be me.”

      Cheers, as always, for the read and compliment, Isadora, it’s much appreciated!

      Like

      • Thanks for the Term: ‘Bleeding on the page’ … it screams so much. Thanks for the writing advice. I do tend to think too much and hold the opinions of others to heart. Catholic school quilt peeking over my shoulder all of the time. You’d think at my age ( yes, my age) I wouldn’t give a s–t.
        I believe in honesty and keeping to my own opinions no matter what the other person may think or feel, too. After all, I wouldn’t be me otherwise.
        Isadora 😎

        Liked by 1 person

      • My blog started out with advice and tips but everyone and their mothers were doing it at the time so I pivoted to short stories.

        Now, I post a fiction piece on Mondays for those looking for a little entertainment, and my brand of homemade advice on Thursdays for those in need of a little encouragement. Sometimes you need to know you’re not alone in your struggles, and writing is such an isolated and isolating thing most of the times.

        I don’t picture myself as one of these Guide To Success “writing gurus” but if something I offer helps at least one person in some small way, then it’s worth the effort. That’s the communal part of a writing community.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. “The mere fact that you’re questioning yourself and your abilities probably means you’re meant to be a writer.”

    Absolutely loved this one and as a 72 year old man trapped in a 28 year Old’s body, I have to say it really resonated with me 😅

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Dang, I haven’t been receiving notices of your posts so I missed this and another one. Anyhoo, this is brilliant and so true. I graduated with an advanced degree in Self-Doubt from You’re A Big Fat Loser University (our mascot was the Cowering Milksop, go figure) and so I’m constantly churning that blob of rancid butter over and over. It results in crippling writer’s block, which has afflicted me since just before Christmas of last year. All I can do is shake my head and think “This always happens…” And it’s true–it always does happen. I reckon I’ve programmed myself to think this way, but honestly, without going into morbid details, I had a big hand from certain folks in my childhood who drilled it into me. I love writing. I love talking about writing. But I can’t seem to string together more than a couple of months of steady output before I find myself running on fumes and I sputter to a stop on some deserted writers’ highway. Your advice here is good and solid. Screw perfectionism, do it for one person only: yourself. I gave up on ever getting properly published decades ago after too many rejection slips and I let 20 years go fallow because of it. It’s good to hear a voice like yours encouraging the rest of us to relax, be kind to ourselves and write because we enjoy it. That’s when the best words appear anyway. Thank you, good sir, for the kind words of encouragement. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I started writing as a child, went to writing groups and suchlike as a teenager, always wanting to write my own books. But the pressure of earning a living got in the way as an adult. It was only a chronic illness and ending up on a disability pension, that’s given me the freedom to spend my days writing now. (The low income is a nuisance, but spending my good days doing what I always wanted to do is priceless.)

    Liked by 1 person

  11. This post is very amazing, I am having a really tough time right now. I find the words that you write is comforting and smooth to my soul. Thank you for being such an amazing writer!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Life has that annoying habit of getting in the way but despite the tough times you need to make time for the things that matter to you. There’s an old saying, “Inch by inch, everything’s a cinch,” so keep at it no matter how long it takes.

      Cheers for the read, comment, and compliment, Honoka! They’re all greatly appreciated!

      Liked by 1 person

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