Prompt: Do you think it’s better to be a recognized expert for one thing or known to be really good at lots of things?
My big goal in life is to be able to support myself with my writing, but at this point, I’d take being able to make money off of it. You see, even though I post every day (often several times a day), I don’t actually sell my work. I never submit pitches, and I very rarely submit to contests, residencies, or other venues that could pay. Part of the reason is simple laziness: I just don’t want to put in the effort to look for venues, craft a piece, and submit a pitch. How would I do so anyway with my grueling writing and working schedule? Where would I find the time?
But the other reason, and this is perhaps the biggest of the two, is that I simply don’t feel qualified to pitch anything. Despite the fact that I am opinionated, decently plugged into the world, and good at research, I just don’t know what I could possibly say that someone would pay me for. I work at a library, but I’m not actually a librarian. I teach children, but I’m not actually a teacher. I read and write but am neither a professor, a critic, nor a professional writer. I’m not a recognized or self-proclaimed expert in any field. I’m just me: an opinionated, irritated, articulate individual. How does that translate to a platform?
Often, when I’m scrolling through a web site like The Toast, Buzzfeed, or Bustle, I’ll wish that I were some kind of expert. Why don’t I pay enough attention to the music in Steven Universe? Why don’t I know the forerunners of third wave feminism? Why can’t I tell you seven cool facts about immigration?
It always seems as though you need to be an expert to write an article — or at least be heavily infested in something. Though I have the best intentions, I simply have too many: I am interested in everything. I want to know how clocks work and the history of typewriters and innovations in gynecology and classic Buddhist texts and how they shaped Communism and the role of women in combat and issues that are important to transgender people and a thousand other things, and, even when I do my best to stick with one topic, I inevitably get enticed by another one. Thus, while I am a wiz at trivia, I am still no expert.
And yet, I’m starting to come around to the idea that being a “jack of all trades, but a master of none” isn’t such a bad thing. The phrase itself wasn’t originally meant to denigrate as its entirety reads “jack of all trades, master of none, though oftentimes better than master of one.” The Internet is truly the great equalizer where people with no education, no common sense, and no skills can still become expert and contributors. Honestly, the main qualification for authoring an article is getting off your ass and writing one. Is it interesting? Will someone want to read it? Then fuck it, sell it. And, as I read article after article that I could have written (and sometimes written better), I have to ask myself, “Why the fuck are you not pitching? Why are you not submitting? What is wrong with you?” If I have as much a right as anyone else to submit my work and be published, then I should attempt it. I shouldn’t let fear of being exposed as a charlatan stop me, especially if I’m writing with honesty, sincerity, and facts. I should just go for it. And, since I have a fairly decent portfolio built up after over 300 posts in six months, I think I’ve proven that I can do it. Now I just have to actually do it.
Wish me luck.