After placing second in The Woolf’s short story competition, I was given the opportunity to write an article for the publication’s next edition. I chose to focus on cross-genre fiction because most of my stories are, to some degree, cross-genre and I wanted to speak to other authors about the process and struggle of getting their work out to an audience despite the difficulty inherent in shelving and marketing such work. You can read what these writers had to say here. Hopefully it’s helpful.
I love fireplaces. Open wood fireplaces are the best but I love them all. Unfortunately, I’ve never in my adult life had the opportunity to live in a place with one. I decided to rectify that situation.
I’d been kicking around the idea of a tabletop faux-fireplace for a while and when my wife dug up her old phone, I sprang into action. A trip to the art section at the local hardware store was all it took to get me set for my craftstravaganza.
The housing is a repurposed wooden box purchased from the hardware store. I measured the screen of the phone and cut out a a hole in the center of a tray that had come with the box. I stained it all with black/brown stain from Ikea in order to match the furniture in my office. Next came the acrylic mosaic tiles to finish off the fireplace look. I used flexible superglue to keep them all in place. Mostly because I’m inpatient.
Inside the box is a sponge to press against the back of the phone and keep it in place. On what was the bottom of the box, now the rear, I cut out a hole for the usb power cable and a larger hole for extra sound. A big benefit of a mostly empty box is amplified crackles and pops from the speakers.
My reading nook is now so much nookier and I couldn’t be happier.
Writers need to be readers.
For writers, reading is the most prescribed “cure for what ails ya.” From writer’s block, to vocabulary, to style and voice, reading is always the cure. There’s reason for this. It’s excellent at sharpening and focusing your mind for writing and for jump starting inspiration.
However, I think there’s an overlooked benefit of reading for writers. A benefit that’s hard to discuss without sounding like an ass but an ass I shall be to make this point! Reading is an excellent treatment for imposter syndrome. Specifically, reading average books. Why, because frankly, you can write something better.
So many writers feel inadequate in their skills. We feel that what we produce can’t live up to the kind of work we’re aspiring to or even any other “real” books. By that, I mean published, industry validated books. We focus on these books and judge ourselves based on their perceived excellence. We feel like imposters if we can’t somehow produce something that matches them and of course we never feel that our current manuscript can match their greatness.
The world is full of tens of thousands of books. That’s probably a conservative estimate. Of those, there are a lot that are at the pinnacle of the craft. There are even more that are of amazing quality and surpass your current ability as a writer. However, the vast majority of books out there fall somewhere between decent and awful. These are the stories you want to turn to when imposter syndrome strikes.
I’m not advocating that one scrape the bottom of the barrel simply to make themselves feel better. That’s just self-mollycoddling. This exercise is also not about shaming other writers. It’s about putting your skills in perspective.
When the existential dread of imposter syndrome hits, pick up a mediocre book and start reading. Look at how it’s crafted. Think about the plot, prose and characters. See all those rough edges and missteps? All of them are on display in a professionally published work right there in your hands. A book you, and presumably others, paid for.
What you have before you is a reality check. An industry validated piece of evidence showing what actually gets published. You can at least create that. You can do better. You know you can.
Keep your goals lofty. Never stop trying to best your favorites. Just remember most books don’t and that your’s doesn’t have to in order to be a success. Believe in yourself.