(Note: this is an updated repost from my ZB Blog. I wondered if I should even post it here. Rats, there I go showing my insecurity again.)
Someone has finally called me an author. In public. And in the context of differentiating between an author and a writer.
This was true complement to my work. It was not accompanied by a coy smirk, subtle eye roll or adding “she draws comics…” In fact, it was one of the most rewarding words that I heard. Something I have been waiting to hear most of my adult life. It’s true. I am an author.
It’s also true that I am artist. My best friend and I do fantastic in the world of indy comics. We’ve sold out complete runs of books. However beyond the sales, every year, my work gets better. (Practice makes perfect) so I don’t know why my tummy rebels at a word.
Outside, I felt flushed. I was in a restaurant, in a booth, surrounded on all sides by people, so I wasn’t getting away. Still I cannot deny my flight response. I was ready to leap across the table and get the heck out of there. Of course since that would have spilled a few beers, two iced-teas, and a coke plus ruined some perfectly good tacos and quesadillas, I tried to act calm. Confident. I casually mentioned my book is under contract and my comics–oh yeah and did some murals. I painted a church ceiling a couple years ago. Blah Blah Blah.
So I considered why I feel this way, beyond that it makes for great blog material…
It might be because I have stood smiling while someone ripped into my artwork, characters, or story more than once, at conventions. I just say, “Well, art is subjective.” (I still don’t understand why people stop if they are just going to be mean. See the great big banners behind me. That’s the artwork, why stop if it not your thing?)
Or it might be that all of my work has faced rejection.
However, in my case: it is more often the quieter slights. They are not my imagination. I have seen the subtle disdain and it’s not a real job attitude from people I care about. I shoved my hurt down deep inside me. It quietly whispers when I feel weak. Sometimes it has enough power to shout: I am not good enough for what I have worked for.
Yet if I turn it around, even my insecurity reminds me how to get past my self-indulgent pity party: Work. For better or for worse, I earned the right to consider myself an artist and author. I do the work.
First of all, I do consider writing and creating artwork my primary means of employment even when it isn’t making money. So does my husband. Know why? Because I work when it isn’t fun. On the days, I don’t love it. Or am confused about a character. Or find a huge hole in my plot. I work when it is sunny and my feet tell me to wander. I sit down at the computer and write or I sit down in my living room and draw panels. When against a deadline, I work weekends.
Secondly, I still love the work. I love throwing new ideas on the page, slashing out the good and keeping the bad. I love fleshing out characters. I love picking out the perfect word. I love designing page layouts and panels. I even enjoy the other design work. I have created a website, postcards, book cards, and mini buttons to help market the book. I have also created two trailers. I joined Google+ and actually have been paying attention in face book specifically to help Other Systems succeed where the comics have not done so hot. During all of this: I have been lettering and coloring Famine Lands 3: Mareton’s Curse.
Thirdly, I’m never getting a “real” job. When times are hard, I get a part time job that will enable to continue my artwork and writing. Currently, I walk dogs. I have also worked retail.
Fourthly, yes, the rejections can pile up, but if I am not getting them (or acceptance letters) I am not submitting my work. It’s part of the job.
So that’s how I get a handle on my insecurities.
How does other people handle it?