I interviewed for teaching as an adjunct at the local community college last week. I wasn’t nervous. Part of the reason why is that I hadn’t planned on getting a job (and this is one class–not full time or anything). Because I wasn’t nervous and because I didn’t feel like I had to get this, I just decided to go with who I am and what I know and my skills and experience. What a concept, right? It turns out when I’m not under pressure, I’m perfectly confident in myself. I know I’m good at teaching. I love talking about it, and so I was able to talk with my interviewer with comfort and ease and just enjoy the conversation.
I got the job.
I was thinking about how this experience translates into writing. Most writers I know have imposter syndrome. We’re sure we suck. On one level, we know we are good, because we are getting published. But on another level, publishing is such a heartbreaking and vicious business that you can lose a publisher quickly. Your numbers aren’t good enough, so you’re done. But then, the new world of publishing is self/indie publishing, where you can reach readers more directly. You invest in yourself and you find out directly how readers are like or don’t like your writing. Either they are buying and reading, or they are not. Unless of course they don’t know about you and you have trouble getting the word out. But that’s another issue altogether.
Okay, so what happens when you don’t have the pressure of wondering about your abilities? Of those constant nerves? If you feel confident? Well hell if I know. But I wonder if it would be like the interview where you just relax into being yourself and enjoying the writing and the work.
Actually, that happens to me when I’m deep in a scene and I don’t let myself get distracted. Lately that only happens for a few minutes at a time. But when I’m in the groove and keeping a schedule, I can get lost for much longer stretches. Even when I come up for air–to walk around or get food or drink–I sink right back down very easily. I am looking forward to finding that zone again.
The key is to enjoy. As Neil Gaiman said in his speech, enjoy the ride. I used to have that hung on a sign next to my writing chair. It’s down for now, but I expect it will be returning once I get thoroughly unpacked. Here’s the speech again, since it’s worth re-watching. Frequently.