Embrace Higher Standards

“Your answer has been collapsed for violating the Quora policy.”

What?

This was a post that, until this message, had been devoured by the community: a quarter of a million views and ten thousand upvotes.

I clicked through the message:

“Your answer has been collapsed because the formatting makes it unreadable.”

Hmm.


The creative person’s fear of success is understandable. We are worried, at some level, of being exposed. What if someone discovers we are all frauds?

We have talent, but that talent can become a double-edged sword. Actually, everything in life is a double edged sword.

Did you catch that? I’m going to say it again:

Everything in life is a double-edged sword.

Wealth comes with paranoia. Solitude accompanies ambition. Freedom brings indecision. Empathy brings power and insecurity.

More to the point — critique follows exposure.

This is the part where a lot of people tell you about their “haters” — folks who come against them in a determination to tear them down. I haven’t collected any of those yet.

Indifference, not rejection, has been the biggest barrier to telling my story.

Ah ha! I just figured out why I’m writing all this. It’s to remind you of something:

Nobody is out to get you.

This month, I’ve been on Twitter every day talking with people who are trying to write a novel in a month. Every once in a while, I’ll encourage someone who is very far behind in their word count. These kind of interactions are my favorite:

I wish I could say this reaction was normal. Most of the time, though, complete strangers educate me on why they couldn’t do what they wanted. “The election,” they’ll say. “Sickness.” or “Exams.” or “Life.”

The victim’s life is very difficult, you see.

There is something uniquely attractive about having villains in our lives. It makes us feel validated, I think. Like we are heroes fighting against some invisible evil.

But the truth is this, whether it is Quora shutting down my account, or Amazon banning me from pre-orders for a year or just someone who “couldn’t disagree with me more,” these are just random events. An isolated conflict between two people at a single point in time.

Nobody is out to get me.

My biggest detractor, more times than not, lives in my mirror.


— TB