Humility and Me

Oh no! Even the title sounds like a humble brag!

I was in the shower (shake that image from your mind, especially if you’re eating) when it occurred to me that, in less than two weeks, I’ll be a proper writer.
A proper writer?

I immediately gave myself a slap (not literally, that would have been splashy). I reminded myself I’ve been a writer for years. A committed one, at that. One of the reasons I got a 3-book deal was because I already had 2 finished manuscripts ready for edits. I was a writer all that time, because…I was writing.

I still find it hard to believe I have an agent and a book deal. I am waiting to wake up.

Well before any of this happened, every author I met (and I’m lucky to know many of these magical, awe-inspiring people) told me I was a writer, whether I was published or not.
I smiled and nodded, all the time thinking, Yes, but not a proper one.

In a couple of weeks, I’ll be published, and I find myself asking why I don’t feel more like part of a proper writers gang?

I concluded it’s because there is no gang, at least not in the sense I imagined. When I saw myself outside a circle, it was a circle I’d created myself; a barrier I had put up to prove that, yeah, I might be alright at this writing business, but not good enough. Not like them. This is additionally ridiculous because writers are the most inclusive set I’ve ever met. Their default position is: lift as you climb.

I know this, but there’s a constant voice in my head reminding me I must not get above myself.

Some of my friends are writers to the core, and the thought of them believing they are not proper writers because they aren’t yet traditionally or self-published makes my heart shrivel. Yet I felt like that.

My daughter was 13 when she told me it was sad that I needed external validation from a publishing house. I should self-validate, she said. But I don’t find it easy.

How do you self-validate after decades on this planet as a woman? After years of being assessed on what you look like, then aging and being told you should be younger, prettier, thinner and more humble?

That humility is deeply ingrained in women of my generation. We aren’t meant to get above ourselves, overtly shout about our achievements. It’s unseemly. It’s crass.

I’m an extrovert. I am unusual in this profession because I’m a confident, sociable, people-person. Despite this, I have already felt the need to apologise on Twitter for the amount of book promotion I’m doing.
I hate the fact I feel compelled to say sorry.

I’m holding a launch party, and that feels self-indulgent and self-congratulatory. Bonkers, right?

My husband has a male grooming brand which he started from scratch. He created the brand (Gnarly Joe, since you ask. Look it up), the products and the marketing. He is rightly proud of what he’s created and has no problem advertising it.

I have created something out of nothing too. Why don’t I have the same confidence? I’m a more outgoing person. I’m more active on social media. I’m an over sharer by nature.

But I am a woman.

And now I realise I am a woman who is a proper writer and has been for years. That moment in the shower (sorry to bring that image back), has made me determined to fight the urge to be self-effacing about that. I’ve worked hard and I’m proud of the books I‘ve written (although reading that back makes me cringe).

I’ll prove I’m trying, at least, by putting the link here. It’s out on 15th September, but, because I like you, you can preorder it now.

2 thoughts on “Humility and Me

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  1. Great post, Lisa, and so much of it resonates. I’m part of a writing collective called The Write Romantics. We formed a decade ago when we were all unpublished members of the RNA and used to blog together. We’ve stopped blogging and are now a support group with 150+ titles between us, indie, trad published and hybrid. We’re all women and every single one of us has struggled to say ‘I’m a writer’ including the point where it became ‘I’m an author’ as our work went out there. We’ve often debated why we’ve struggled with this and being a woman has never cropped up but I think you’re so right about that factor. Bit of a lightbulb moment for me there. Even when I was first published, if I met someone new and they asked me what I do, I’d always say ‘I work in HR’ and, on the few occasions when I braved adding in ‘I’m also an author’, I pretty much apologised for it. To be fair, that was partly because that statement invariably leads to the dreaded question, ‘Have you written anything I’d have heard of?’ or the dreaded statement, ‘I’d love to write a book… if only I had time’ followed by a pointed staring accusation that I clearly have too much time on my hands. It was only when I became a FT author a couple of years back that I found myself able to say ‘I’m an author’ and only then because I didn’t have an alternative job. I still find it hard now. It’s such a crazy thing but those past experiences where I was ‘brave’ always play on my mind. For every ten times I’ve said I’m an author, I’ve only had one person show genuine interest. I find that very hard. If I’d said I was a vet or a teacher or even if I worked in HR still, there’d be something but being an author had the power to cut the conversation dead. Hopefully I’m just meeting the wrong sort of people! You are a writer and you are soon to be a published author and I for one will be watching your star rise and cheering you on xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s so interesting! Maybe it’s just me that always concludes that it’s different for women.
      I hope that you tell people how many books you’ve sold now when they ask if they’ve heard of you! That would put them in their place 😉
      Thank you for your kind and thoughtful words. Not long until my publication date. Brave new world, here I come! Xx

      Liked by 1 person

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