My husband is an artist and a very good one at that. He was fortunate enough to be born that way. He spent five and a half years in college honing his God-given talent. (Okay, so maybe some of that time was spent doing things on his parents’ dime that are better left unsaid.) His gift has put food on our table for the last twenty years, and Elmo faces in chalk on the driveway for the last ten or so.
He is very protective of his art, his passion, but something he said to me a few years back has been stuck in my head lately. He was lamenting over how the invention of PowerPoint and Photoshop makes everyone think they are the next Picasso. He was preaching from his soapbox over folks who think that all they have to do is choose a cutesy font from the drop-down box, import a picture from clipart, and “Voila!” It is art! It makes someone with his level of talent seem cheapened, less relevant. Now, I find that I am in the same situation, only I am not the artist. I am the imposter.
I have been feeling a strong, somewhat urgent need to call myself on the carpet lately. My gut is telling me to apologize to everyone out there who dreamed as a child to be a writer, and gave up their blood, sweat and tears to make the dream happen. For every creative writing student who spent years crafting stories, churning out inventive ideas, and suffering through painful critiques for the privilege of walking across the stage and accepting that long-awaited diploma, cementing what they knew in their heart to be true – that they are writers – I can only say that I am sorry for pretending to be one of you. Please understand that I know deep down how I am simply a wannabe, a hobby-less wannabe with an insatiable need to share my every waking thought with the universe.
The internet has created a new lackluster genre of writing: bloggers. Every other person you see at Target considers themselves to be a talented author because they have their own page on blogspot.com. Anyone with a Google account is suddenly Ernest Hemingway. Every middle-aged mom who fires off a witty one-liner from time to time is now Erma Bombeck. Every slightly unstable comic book fanatic who lives in his mom’s basement now honestly believes that the world will cease turning without his expert commentary on the latest Iron Man installment. And I am but a foot soldier in this Army of Mediocrity.
I know there are some very entertaining bloggers out there who deserve praise. Many award-winning writers have even taken to blogging themselves. This is a boon for those of us whose favorite authors bless us weekly with their work. No more waiting for the next novel to be released, just a few clicks and our literary monkey on the back is satisfied. There are even bloggers out there who have found fame and fortune through their daily musings. One of my favorite chick lit writers, Jen Lancaster, ended up on the New York Times best seller list after she took to blogging over her current state of unemployment from the corporate world and then turned it into a series of hilarious memoirs of her seemingly regular life. However, I am no Jen Lancaster. Heck, I am fairly certain that I wouldn’t even qualify to pen the obituaries for the local newspaper if you really want to be honest about it.
Lately, I have been asking myself why on Earth I think other people want to know about my high school prom escapades or my dollar store expeditions. I haven’t come up with a good answer yet. Maybe my goal here is just to make folks realize that they aren’t nearly as goofy as I am, and somehow make them feel better about their own shortcomings. Maybe, the four or five people who read my blog will be grateful that their mom is still around and that they don’t have three disrespectful dogs under foot who bark at the wind.
I feel such a rush of relief now that my intentions are clear. I am not operating under the delusion that I am the next Jane Austen or even J.K. Rowling for that matter. I have a blog like a gazillion other people, and, like a gazillion other people, I should probably just step away from the internet and go read a real book or clean the toilet. Furthermore, any and every person out there can reconstruct a memory or whine over a mountain of laundry just as well or better than I can – probably better. All you have to do is one thing: Start typing.