You Are a Badass by Jen Sincero
It’s especially interesting to go back over my journal from a year ago regarding the lessons in this book and really see a kind of “before” and “after” scenario. Allow me to set the scene for you.
Sincero talks about self-sabotaging stories, the things that you hear yourself thinking and saying over and over. One of mine was this idea that I wouldn’t be able to find writer friends. I had just graduated from my writing program and it felt scary not to have that safety net, that built-in team of classmates.
Sincero then asks you to look at your self-sabotaging stories and analyze them to figure out what you gain from telling yourself those things. So, for example, if I tell myself that I’m bad at keeping a daily routine, what I gain from that is the alleviation of the pressure of expectation, responsibility. If I tell myself (and others) that I’m bad at saving money, then I can keep indulging in the immediate gratification of spending right away, and I don’t have to hold myself to a higher standard.
I decided that the main reason I had a hangup about finding writer friends was not necessarily the fear of rejection of myself (I’m an extrovert and I’ve never had trouble making friends) but the fear of rejection of my work. What if no one understood or valued what I was trying to do with my writing? And I feared being unevenly yoked—I didn’t want to be the best writer in a circle of beginners and feel like the teacher instead of a peer, and I didn’t want to be the worst writer in a circle of really talented, amazing writers and feel like a hack. If I told myself I wouldn’t be able to find the right group then I absolved myself having to try, to risk, looking for them.
Having a clear understanding of what you need and having dismantled the lie you’ve allowed to limit you from getting it, Sincero encourages you to state your wish as fact, and express your gratitude now for these future blessings. In my notebook I wrote, “I believe I will meet the right writer friend or friends for me… who will love and understand my writing and help me make it the best it can be. Thank you, Mother Universe, for providing this abundant gift which I need.”
Now fast forward. Jacob, Karen, and I are all coworkers on the library campus, and we decide to start a writing group. We exchange writing by email and get together to discuss on hour lunch breaks at the library every couple Saturday afternoons, often while one or more of us is working. We successfully meet regularly for several months, then decide to take a summer break and do the July Camp Nano. Meanwhile, Doug and I go out to dinner with a large group of interconnected friends and end up seated next to Remy, who we soon discover is a writer. Doug and I attend a book club and end up seated next to Julie, who we soon discover is a writer. I lead a writing workshop at the art store and soon start chatting with Kim, who is, of course, a writer! The group size has doubled! Julie asks if she can invite her friend Sheryl. Another coworker Shelle says she’d love to jump in once things settle down. Now we’re setting up new schedules based on more people, more writing, more reading, more discussion.
In short, a year ago I was afraid I’d fail to find writing friends and fail to have a writing circle. Just a year later and we have an incredible group of sensitive, enthusiastic, dedicated writers. We care about the work and we care about each other, and I could not be more happy with this amazing writerly family.