There’s something about creative types. We live in this world where we need to believe in what we do, because how else could we drag ourselves out of our caves and keep doing it in the face of so many obstacles and distractions and naysayers? At the same time, we need to acknowledge our flaws. In order to get better, we have to recognize what needs work, we have to accept criticism, and we need people around us who will tell us what we’re doing wrong.
(Plus, who hasn’t met the asshole who thinks he’s God’s gift to writing / art / theatre / underwater-basketweaving? So not a good look on anyone.)
So we do it. We live in this milieu of security and insecurity, self-confidence and realistic acknowledgement of flaws. We make it work and we embrace the duality.
But sometimes…sometimes we need to let all that uncertainty go. We need to sell ourselves. We need to tell someone exactly how awesome we are, and we have to believe it.
And that’s never more true than at a writer’s conference.
This past weekend, at Georgia Romance Writers’ Moonlight and Magnolias Conference, I had to do just that, and most of my Bad Girlz did, too.
Here’s the story I told them the first time I heard one of them letting the self-doubt win:
One of my many hobbies is making pottery. I’ve been doing it for about four years, and at this point I’m pretty good.
I have a friend, T, who also makes pottery and has been doing it for about as long as I have. He is also pretty good at it.
Here’s the thing, though: I have never sold a single piece of pottery I’ve made, while T has sold at least half of it. He sells his work to co-workers, to friends, to family.
And I was trying to figure out why. Then it hit me.
When someone comes up to me and says she likes one of the vases I’ve made, I tell her, “Oh, well, thanks, but the glaze is a little messed up here, and it’s kind of off-center, and the handle slips, and I think the foot is too narrow.”
She then says, “Oh,” and that’s the end of the conversation.
When someone comes up to T and says she likes one of his bowls, he says: “It’s fifteen dollars.”
She then buys it.
And that right there is all you need to know about selling yourself as a potter, as an artist, as a writer. When someone expresses interest in your work, keep all that self-doubting bulls*** to yourself.
Tell them, “It’s fifteen dollars.”
Then let them decide for themselves.
Chances are, they’re believe you’re worth all of that and more.
Disclaimer: The Bad Girlz are in no way, shape or form implying that anyone is worth only fifteen dollars. It’s an allegory, damn it. Look it up.