1. Distance yourself from uninformed, old-fashioned and deliberately depreciative comments that people make when you tell them what you are doing.
As soon as you hear the same old lines “what is your real job”, or “you can’t make money with writing”, or “are you successful with your writing” (meaning “do you make money with your writing?”), or “how many copies have you sold”, or “nowadays everybody can can call themselves a writer” or my favourite one “I was sitting on a terrace in Paris once drinking Cointreau, but that doesn’t make me Hemingway”, you can end the conversation. This person does not mean well and has no faith in you whatsoever. Fair enough. None of your business. There is nothing there for you, so you might as well move on because they won’t be converted even though they listen to music, watch series and films and absorb the fruits of actively creative minds every single day. They only appreciate the crown of a tree and are oblivious to its roots. Vampires. Stick to your guns.
2. Don’t let people give you their impression that you as a sister, a former student, a daughter, a friend, a waitress, a neighbour, or whoever, cannot contribute something of value to the forum of creative expression.
Nobody but you sets boundaries to what you can and cannot achieve. Everybody has a vocation and if you are aware of yours, nurture it and don’t let people trample over it just because they haven’t found theirs yet or “don’t believe in that kind of stuff”. You decide whether a person’s impression of you is compatible with your truth or not. Nobody dictates what lurks inside of you. Surprises and astonishment keep everybody on their toes. Rethink your own hand-me-down perceptions and evaluation systems. Become the person inside of you and fill your own shoes. Comparative thinking is a dead alley.
3. Pay attention to people who are criticising you, sense their intentions and read their use of language towards you.
Whenever somebody gives you their “advice” without you having asked for it, be aware. Who is this person? What has this person achieved in my eyes? What qualifies this person to evaluate me or my work? Has this person even read or seen my work? What are the reasons behind this person’s critique? What are the intentions of this person? How do they express their opinion? What words do they use? If there is nothing constructive or benevolent within their “feedback” you have every right to discard it from your mind. Again, this person wants to put you down for doing what you’re doing. Your value does not lie in their hands. Don’t engage with so-called realists who are naysaying-for-naysaying’s-sake.
“Mask and books” by Władysław Ślewiński (1856-1918)
4. Thinking about the letter Z whilst shaping the letter A will not help you at all.
If you want to create something of value and meaning (both are subjective) you cannot let money be your sole motivator, or fame, or your urge to please people. Either you react to the audience or the audience reacts to you. Some people are efficient in providing the masses with what they desire, others are not. If that’s not who you are and you want to stay true to yourself, that’s your path and it might take more time, but it will be worth it. Never sell your soul to devils that are not yours. Money does not make a writer out of you. Writing does. There is no money without a product. Without an idea. Without work and effort. Perseverance and resilience. The books you write make you a writer. Good or bad. Every step counts. Just because something sells doesn’t mean that it is of value. Success does not equal tons of money. Maybe in some people’s value systems. Figure out what matters to you. Your priorities and ideals. Your work will reflect that. Who you are. So much goes into the process of writing and it is a lot of work in contrast to the beliefs of many. Every single creation has its audience.
5. Don’t let yourself be put down by a narrow-minded and number-obsessed loan-shark-banker who pressures you to pay back your student debt and don’t allow him to devalue your creative accomplishments.
Nowadays may be the best days to put yourself out there creatively or the worst days. I’d like to believe that the times we live in are the best for creative advancement and acknowledgement. To make older and stagnant generations understand that, is a challenge. However, it is not your lack of imagination and regressive nostalgia. There are numerous platforms where you can actively catapult your work into the world. Don’t let money issues harass your mindset and kill your motivation and inspiration. Money comes and goes. Don’t seek approval from without. The only approval that counts is your own. Lack only invites more lack. Thinking about money problems has never solved them. Let your creativity breathe, that’s where your life is, the meaning of your existence. You’re not a red number. Even with two degrees it is hard to find a job that is worthy of you. So, if that job does not exist yet, why not create it and work it until it pays off? Now is the time. It takes time and patience. Only you need to believe that and hold on to those certainties. Do your thing and your audience will find you. Work any job that will help you realise your visions in peace.
“The Lathrop sisters’ studio in Northampton” (Photographer: unknown)