Picking a creative career like writing would be impossible without blind faith in oneself. I've always worked at being the hero of my own story, someone I would root for in a book, or onscreen, but now the scope of the story is growing and I can't predict the plotline. That's what makes my job so exciting, but also so terrifying (quarterlife crisis be gone!).
"Isn't faith a form of delusion?" a concerned friend might say. Maybe, but it's better than regret. As Rick tells Ilsa at the end of Casablanca (1942), "If that plane leaves the ground and you're not [on it], you'll regret it. Maybe not today. Maybe not tomorrow, but soon and for the rest of your life." Writing is my plane...the pilot just suffers from acute motion sickness.
Quick question: If you fell in the woods, and no one was there to see/hear you (and you're not seriously hurt) would you laugh? I do. It's good practice for when I'm in front of other people, but standing alone. That's the life of a creative professional, give or take a few friends. You have to find the courage to laugh at your mistakes, smile at your triumphs, ignore naysayers, and move on. I'm not totally there yet. It's hard for me to believe in my work all of the time. It's hard to take risks when there's no one else to share blame if they don't pan out.
I was forewarned about the seclusion of the creative professional, but I didn't listen. When I first started, I thought I'd have an agent and an editor and attend hundreds of interesting (if pretentious) parties in no time. I didn't factor in all the time it takes to hone your craft. And that isn't even enough anymore. Now you have to be a triple threat: an artist, a marketer, and a salesman.
If you want to get published, you need to be a low-risk investment; you need to present a growing audience that's waiting to read your work. That requires authors--who are introverted by nature--to craft personas that align with multiple social media platforms.
Crafting a persona, like crafting a character, requires love, vulnerability, and a willingness to understand different kinds of people--even those with whom you butt heads. Emotions and incidents must be drawn forth, used, and then tucked back away. Work and life mix until you're not sure which characters are totally fabricated, and which ones are you.
"@AlexSchattner What do you mean you're a playboy anarchist, and a scared sorority girl?" tweets that same concerned friend.
"I don't fully understand it, @ConcernedBFF, but it's true." For example, F. Scott Fitzgerald was equal parts Jay Gatsby and Nick Carraway. He was "within and without," (The Great Gatsby, Ch. 2) the center of the attention and the observer.
When you speak to an audience on social media, you need to turn your empathy towards them. Who are they? What do they want to hear from you in 140 characters? How do you reconcile that with what you want to say?
This blog will ask many questions: Why? and Who? and Is that a masterpiece or a table dewobbler? It will cover my own writerly pursuits and ideas, as well as those of other artists facing similar challenges to their work. While some posts might be rockier than others, I hope you will come aboard with me. I might not know where this plane is flying, but I can promise an adventure.
Follow Alex Schattner on Twitter: www.twitter.com/alexschattner