GOOD LUCK? (HARD WORK!)

GOOD LUCK? (HARD WORK!)

12592312_962773010443929_2783596585457407864_nRecently, I came across this picture of an iceberg on Facebook. It’s not the first time I’ve seen the image but, having been told one too many times that I’m ‘so lucky’ for being successfully employed, it has begun to resonate! Granted, Cyprus has not had an easy time of it in the last few years – an economic crisis has put paid to much of the easy wealth and nepotistic job market – but I strongly resent the assumption that I should be in a plum position purely by fluke.

None of the work I do came about by chance. None of the opportunities I’ve been given were a result of nepotism. And not one has been the result of ‘luck’. From my thriving freelance practice to my position as Chief Features Writer at a national newspaper, everything I’ve achieved has been through concerted effort. Make that plural: efforts. Because I’m on first name terms with every one of the words you see below the waterline – and then some!

Hours spent on LinkedIn, days developing my portfolio, weeks perfecting my self-promotion; endless emails and follow-up letters; research into business practices and best marketing techniques – these are just a few of the things I’ve done to get where I am today. Even now, when I’m in secure employment, my spare time is spent on perfecting my résumé, updating my online presence, and networking. If I’m not doing that, I’m building my brand through blogging or posting, sharing my articles, reading books on the use of language and seeking new opportunities.

And if, like me, your successes have been dismissed as fluke on more than one occasion, you’ll know where I’m coming from. Those of us who have worked very hard to get (and stay) where we are, know just how much effort it takes. We may be branded perfectionists, accused of overkill and labelled workaholics but, at the end of the day, we have truly earnt our success. Just don’t call us ‘lucky’!

 

Have you ever had your success dismissed as ‘good luck’? Why not share this post and let people know how much work you’ve put in to get to where you are!

 

WHY FEELING A FRAUD WILL WORK WONDERS FOR YOUR WRITING

I once worked out that I have over a million words in print.

words-679914_640And that’s just the commissioned pieces – I haven’t even counted the blog, or my constant literary ramblings (filed in dubious–sounding folders such as ‘hmmm, ‘strange’ and ‘why’) or the innumerable stories I wrote as a child!

So. One million words. Views in the thousands. Followers by the hundred. And a successful career built on, basically, what comes out of my head and hits the page. And still, I feel a fraud.

I’m convinced there’s an authorial equivalent of the Emperor’s New Clothes just waiting to pounce. But in this case, the revelation won’t be sartorial, it will be literal. A lone voice will suddenly cry “But you CAN’T write! Hasn’t anyone noticed?” At which point my entire readership will wipe the figurative mist from their eyes, leap to their feet and cry, in unison, “By God, it’s TRUE! We’ve been bamboozled!”

(In the worst of my imaginings, I’m naked when this happens. But that I can explain – it’s just background anxiety, like dreams about taking exams without your trousers on. However, I digress…)

The point I’m trying to make is that all true writers I’ve ever met feel exactly the same: that we really don’t know what we’re doing. (Conversely, whenever I’ve come across someone who maintains they’re “simply brilliant” I’ve been massively falling-99183_640underwhelmed. Horrified, even, by the standards of their work.) So, what’s the link? Why do talent and insecurity go hand in hand, skipping blithely into the sunset – and off the proverbial cliff of self-doubt?

Far greater minds than mine have probed the issue. I’ve seen analyses of this link by the dozen (http://bit.ly/1XSz1US and http://bit.ly/1s54csR), and Tennessee Williams summed it up beautifully when he said: “I don’t believe anyone ever suspects how completely unsure I am of my work and myself and what tortures of self-doubting the doubt of others has always given me.” But my thoughts on the matter are, quite simply, this:

  • There’s no mathematical standard for measuring good copy. Logically, 2 + 2 = 4 (well, in this universe, anyway). But creatively, if there’s a numerical formula by which one can judge writing, I’ve yet to discover it.
  • To be any good, you have to be unsure. It prompts you to research, to study, to fine-tune and perfect. Show me someone who will agonise for half an hour over the placement of a comma, and I’ll show you someone with the makings of an excellent writer.
  • And lastly, writing requires imagination. A wonderful ability, that will take you to places undreamt of by say, actuaries images (6)and accountants. But it will also create mental worst-case scenarios (hence the Emperor’s New Clothes) far, far beyond the imaginings of those in the more pragmatic professions.

Incidentally, if anyone would like to criticise this piece, feel free. There’s nothing you can condemn that I haven’t already considered, beaten myself round the head with, and wept buckets over. In fact, right now, my insecurities are standing next to me, bellowing: “So now it’s one million five hundred! And you STILL don’t know what you’re doing…”

Are you a writer? Do you feel the same way? I’d love to know I’m not alone in this…