Fighting the Imposter Police

As you might have surmised, I’ve been incommunicado for the last two months. Where have I been?

As I’ve mentioned in the past, music is my other passion. It has to be because I’ve spent most of the last month playing trumpet in a concert band, the orchestras of three musicals, and two Easter church services.

Why Music?

Music has been a part of my life ever since I picked up a trumpet in 4th grade…which was many years ago. I’ve played in two community bands since not long after I learned to play. I played concert, marching, and jazz band although high school. If it weren’t for the fact that I discovered computers in high school, there is an excellent chance that I’d would have majored in Music instead of Computer Engineering. At the time, I decided that it would be easier to be a computer engineer who was a musician than being a musician who was into computers.

I’m Not A Musician, But I Play One On TV

When I’m playing in the orchestra pit, I am surrounded by retired or active music teachers. I always seem to be one of the only people who never had any lessons past high school, let alone major in music. I always feel like such an impostor.  I wait for someone to say, “What is he doing here? He’s not a real musician,” and then the Imposter Police haul me out of the orchestra pit for being a fraud. I feel that all of the time, but I still keep putting myself out there because each time I do, the voice of the Imposter Police gets softer and softer. In one of the musicals, I worked with a new musician and he asked me, “Where do you teach?” That made me feel like I really am a musician.

What Does This Have To Do With Writing?

My writing life is like my musical life. I’m an engineer by training. I took one creative writing class in college and a couple of creative writing classes offered by our local arts organizations. Nothing would indicate that I should be a writer. And if I feel like an imposter when I’m a musician, it has nothing on how unworthy I feel when I call myself a writer. It hits me when I’m stuck trying to figure out how to move forward with a story and particularly when I’m editing. I hear the Imposter Police telling me, “You’re not a writer. This is awful. No one is ever going to want to read this.”

The Only Way Out Is Up

The only way to turn the volume down on the Imposter Police is to just keep working at it. Just keep working on it word by word, note by note. When I’m writing, I keep trying to tell myself, “You can fix it later. Just keep writing.”

I’d be lying if I said this always works. I have nights where I just stare at my screen and wallow in what an awful writer I am and wonder why I do this when I could be watching TV or doing…anything else. What makes it worthwhile is when you have one of those moments where you realize, “Yes, I am a writer.” or “Yes, I am a musician.” And you remember that the only difference between a professional is that the professional gets paid. Being a professional anything is no guarantee that you are better than an amateur. I’ve seen community theatre productions that are better than many professional plays. Professional implies training and experience; both of which you can build yourself. Let me let you in on a secret: I’m largely a self-taught musician. Through a fluke of timing, from 7th Grade to Senior Year, I had six different band teachers. It makes it difficult to learn when the environment continually changes. But, if you practice, you can gain that experience and training, albeit much more slowly. And if you love it, it’s worth it.

Happy journeys!

Mike

 

 

1 Comment

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    Apr 12, 2018

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