Hello, friends, and welcome to another meeting of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group!  If you’re a writer and if you feel in any way insecure about your writing life, click here to learn more about this amazingly supportive group!

This month, I should be bragging about finishing the A to Z Challenge. Also, I should probably be plugging my novella-length Sci-Fi story, which is now available for preorder on Amazon (click here!!!).  But there’s something else I want to talk about today.  Something more important.

There’s a certain attitude that I’m sure we’ve all encountered on the Internet, but it’s troublingly common in everyday life too.  I call it this-or-that-ism.  In the mind of a this-or-that-ist, everything is either this or that.  There’s no middle ground.  There’s no spectrum or continuum of possibilities.  There are no shades of grey.  And if you don’t conform to the standard definition of this, then you must be that.

This-or-that-ists come down hard on a lot of people, but in my experience they come down hardest on creative folks: artists, actors, writers, poets, musicians, etc….  This is especially true when creative people are relatively new to their craft.  Why?  Because when you’re just starting out, you obviously aren’t a huge mega success yet; therefore, you must be an abject failure.

As you may have guessed, there are a few this-or-that-ists in my life, people who feel the need to inform me that I’m no J.K. Rowling, no Stephen King, no James Patterson.  And since I’m not one of those super rich, super famous authors, well… I think you know what the this-or-that-ists are insinuating.

Fortunately, there’s always been a little voice in my head—I call her my muse—who keeps encouraging me.

So today, I’d like to say the same thing to you, because if a few words from my imaginary friend can help me, then perhaps a few words from some guy on the Internet can help you.  So to anyone who may need to hear this:

Whoever you are, whatever you’re trying to achieve, I believe in you.  I think you can do it.  I know you can do it.  So your work isn’t perfect yet?  That doesn’t mean it’s a disaster.  You aren’t a runaway mega-success?  That doesn’t make you a failure.  Keep practicing, keep learning, and keep improving.  And no matter where your own journey takes you, remember that you are worthy of respect and you are worthy of love, and your work deserves a chance to be seen or read or heard.

In a world full of this-or-that-ism, these are things that need to be said more often to all creative folks.

Next time on Planet Pailly, is this COVID-19 thing over yet?  No?  Okay, then I am not lowering my guard.

25 responses »

  1. Kate Rauner says:

    I’d be happy to give your ego a boost – you may say that you’re no Kate Rauner (which puts you squarely in the other category or will at least leave everyone scratching their head.)

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Astrid says:

    This is so true! Thanks for the reminder. I tend to feel discouraged by people trying to tell me I”m no great writer. I only have my blog and one published piece back in 2015 in a marginal book. That doesn’t make me a failure either though. I’m so happy you’re trying to keep motivated despite the this-or-that’ists discouraging you.

    Liked by 3 people

    • J.S. Pailly says:

      Thanks! And don’t let that discouragement get you down. I think you have a really nice blog. I’m not sure what you mean by “marginal book,” but most writers I know have never had anything published anywhere, so that is something to be proud of.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Astrid says:

        I meant the book was published by a tiny publisher and was intended for a very specific audience. It was about typed communication for autistic adults. Thanks for the encouragement.

        Liked by 2 people

  3. Thanks for the pick-me-up. I often need to be reminded of this from time to time.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Erika Beebe says:

    I love your illustrated muse. Thank you for sharing it with all of us today. Happy IWSG day 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  5. chemistken says:

    I don’t consider myself a good writer and don’t expect to become a mega-seller. But if there’s one thing I’ve discovered working with self-published authors, it’s that you don’t have to be. You target the kind of readers who like your style and subject matter and everything else will fall into place. I no longer worry about the fact that many people won’t think I’m a good writer. I only worry about the ones who like what I write.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Kate Rauner says:

      So true. I’m not after a pulitzer! But I won a regional prize for a scifi book. That was last year and I’m still walking on air. Will be for years to come I imagine. A little encouragment is all it takes to keep us indies writing.

      Liked by 1 person

    • J.S. Pailly says:

      Yes, you are exactly right about that! And this is what I’m having a tough time getting certain people to understand. Indie publishing isn’t about a general audience; it’s about finding the rich niche audience for your work. If you can do that, then you’ll do just fine.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I’ll never be as big as Robert Heinlein – and that’s all right! I have my fan base, my books have been minor best sellers, and it’s all more than I ever imagined. Thanks!
    When does your book come out? Be happy to help promote it.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. emaginette says:

    Thank you and right back at you. What a lovely muse you have there. She’s definitely a good influence on you. 🙂

    Anna from elements of emaginette

    Liked by 1 person

  8. ahtdoucette says:

    I agree that this-or-that ism is definitely problematic. I think we’ve all had to deal with labels at one time or another. Keep dreaming and keep writing!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Great post! The other balancing act I struggle with, maybe a corollary here, is that if you want to be in business and be profitable, you have to pay SOME attention to what other people want. There has to be a market into which you can sell your wares.

    That said, if everything you do is for the benefit of other people, you’re probably doing it wrong. At some point you have to believe that you can deliver more, better, when you’re personally invested – and that requires an effort that comes from within. You just have to accept that not everybody is going to love what you’re selling… but chances are that plenty will.

    Liked by 1 person

    • J.S. Pailly says:

      You’re right, it can be a weird balancing act. But there’s an audience out there for pretty much everything, and if you can find the right audience for the thing you want to do, then you’ll be just fine.

      Like

  10. Sue Archer says:

    Many congrats on having your book ready for preorder! I just snapped up a copy, and I’m really looking forward to reading it. 🙂 I think we’re always learning and improving, and this is a good thing. I know I learned a lot from my beta readers for my first book and I’m excited to keep honing my craft as I write more.

    Liked by 1 person

    • J.S. Pailly says:

      Thanks for the preorder! I haven’t had a chance to read your book yet, but it’s sitting on my Kindle, ready to go. Just have to finish reading this other thing first. This is a really exciting time in my life, and I’m sure you feel much the same way.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Sue Archer says:

        No worries – I know how the reading list gets built up! I hope you enjoy it. It is very exciting – and I know I’ll be even more thrilled when I can finally get my hands on my print copies. 🙂 All the best with your preorder!

        Liked by 1 person

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