Making it "real"

Parker writes, “In my experience, ‘making it seem real’ is one of the biggest hurdles to clear in starting a business.” Indeed, I’m afraid I have to agree with her.

Every book I’ve read on freelancing, including this one, says to “fake it until you make it” – aka play up your strengths and downplay your weaknesses until it becomes natural and you can say with confidence that you DO know what you’re doing. And I have been trying.But I’m starting to think it just takes longer for things like this to sink in for me.

Today, I am submitting the first half of the work I’ve finished for the author (see here). I’ve done work for him before so I don’t expect him to have any problems with it. I believe he’ll give me the go-ahead to move on to the last step. But somehow, I still don’t feel like an expert – it doesn’t seem real. I’m doing exactly what an “expert” would do, but I still feel like I’m “faking it.” I’m wondering if it will seem real when I finally buy a web domain, or when I register as an official “business,” or the first time I pay taxes…

It took a very long time for the idea that I’m an adult to sink in, so I’m hoping it’s just that I’m slow (yes, I realize most people don’t hope for that for themselves). Even now, having graduated with my Masters in December, and having lived in my own apartments for almost two years, I still sometimes marvel about being “grown up.” It tends to hit me at the weirdest times. I’ll be doing laundry at the laundromat down the street, or catching a cab across town, or out to lunch with a friend … and suddenly it will go from feeling like I’m playing dress-up to feeling like I’m growing-up.

So maybe it will be the same with my writing. Perhaps, despite having put two solid years into working full time as an editor and writing pieces on a monthly basis for our magazines, and now trying to start a freelance business, it’s still only just creeping up on me.

I’m not one of those people who undervalues their own skills when interviewing or can’t make themselves look attractive on paper – I’m a writer, manipulating words is what I do. But that doesn’t mean I can quite convince myself.

Parker says for Kristen King, the writer she profiles at the end of Chapter one, it didn’t “feel real” until she started meeting other freelancers.

Yet, somehow I expected to feel “real” once I finished my first paid assignment. When that didn’t happen, I thought perhaps it will feel real when I get my first article published, instead of doing private work. That didn’t make it real either, however. Now, I’m hoping that when I reach that big first goal, making $500 in one month, that THAT will make it real (as I pay that money back out immediately to pay my college loans, which will come due in June).

Telling people I write helps. Not that long ago (2 months) I joined a great book club (in Brooklyn – it’s quite a hike but well worth it. I joined because the store impressed me to the extreme. Here, check out their website). Tonight we met to discuss our latest book, and after the club I talked to a few of the other members – I mentioned this blog and what I’m trying to do. And, for a moment, it felt almost real.

So perhaps that’s the trick. Perhaps it will finally feel real when I have a website and business cards and can proudly say, “Yes, this is what I do” when I meet people. I’ll let you know when I get there.

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