Last weekend, I had an AMAZING time at the Colleen O. Williams Community Theater near Athens, GA, watching The Addams Family, A New Musical. The music, the choreography, the cast, the story—it was a lot of fun and I enjoyed every minute of the show! I’d never been to this theater before but since my daughter was Morticia, making her musical theater debut, of course I was there. And it, too, was worth every penny (though it was considerably less than the Fox).
But I have a point here (besides the one where I’m shamelessly bragging about my daughter) and it’s this: whether it’s a show in a huge theater or a show in a small community theater, it’s still people putting on an AMAZING show. But unfortunately, we have a bad habit of diminishing a job depending on several factors. As in, “She’s just an actor at a regional theater.” Or “He’s just a young choreographer, barely making minimum wage.” When the fact is, an actor is an actor; a choreographer is a choreographer. I mean, the last time I checked the program, the director in a community theater wasn’t listed as “Just the Person in Charge of Folks Moving Around the Stage.”
And I thought about this phenomenon as it applies to writers. Because we fall into the “just” trap all the time, diminishing our own work and worth. How many times have you heard a writer say, “It’s just a small, regional magazine”? Or how about the writer who says, “It was just ten dollars” after winning a writing contest? Or how about you? Have you said, “It’s just a royalty-only press”? Or “It was just a Chicken Soup for the Soul story?”
Oh, yes. I’ve done it myself, y’all, but not anymore.
Whether I’m making two dollars or two hundred dollars or two thousand dollars for something I’ve written, I’ve still written it and that makes me a writer. Whether my work appears in a national magazine or a magazine that’s distributed in my one county in my whole state, I’ve still written it and that makes me a writer.
Well, you can see where I’m going here. And watching those two shows, in back-to-back weekends, helped me to see something even more important.
There was an awful lot of joy in those performers in the Broadway musical at the Fox, and there was an awful lot of joy in those performers at the community theater. Sure, the Fox cast might have SAG cards, and there’s certainly a lot bigger paycheck for them. But the joy? I guarantee you’d find plenty of joy on either stage.
So don’t let yourself fall into the trap thinking that just because you’re not writing for a prestigious market or a huge publishing house that it somehow doesn’t count. The work is there, the joy is there, no matter how or where you find it. So claim your joy! Claim your Writer title! And go out there and be AMAZING!