Jeff & Will talk about the PAGE event, which they will be speaking at in 2020. Jeff shares his experience on the hot seat and talking about the book he’s working on to his 90 Days to Done classmates. He also discusses issues he’s having lately with imposter syndrome and comparisonitis. The guys also talk about some retirement planning they’re working on, geared toward helping the move into full-time writer careers.
Here are the things we talk about in this episode. Please note, these links include affiliate links for which we may make a small commission at no extra cost to you should you make a purchase.
- PAGE event website
- Lucy Lennox website
- Romancing the Beats by Gwen Hayes on Amazon
- Jeff & Will’s Websites & Social Media:
Will: Welcome to the “Big Gay Author Podcast,” the show that invites you to follow along as two writers attempt to make the transition from part-time to full-time authors of gay fiction. I’m your host Will Knauss and with me is my fellow writer and husband Mr. Jeff Adams.
Jeff: Hello. Everybody. Today is October 5th 2019, and we’re glad you could join us.
Today. We’re going to be discussing imposter syndrome and comparisonitis. But before we get into that, let’s talk a little bit about our week.
Will: How about let’s talk about what’s going on right this moment as we are recording this episode.
Jeff: Breaking news.
Will: The registration for the PAGE event is opening up.
Have we talked about PAGE before on the show?
Jeff: We talked about PAGE a little bit last week mentioning that the registration was in fact going to open because registration was quite likely to be completed by the time this week’s show drops since there’s only 100 slots available for attendees at PAGE.
Will: PAGE, if you haven’t heard, is the brand new author event being put on by Lucy Lennox. PAGE is an acronym for Pride Author Group Education, and we’re looking forward to going in the spring because we are actually going to be one of the speakers.
Jeff: Yeah, it was very much an honor to get selected to go speak and do some presentations at PAGE.
We were certainly going to go anyway, because any event that Lucy would put on is no doubt going to be excellent. Certainly seeing the lineup of speakers that she has… I look at that and go “wow, we’re in that list of speakers” because there’s some great people there.
Will: Yeah, I think this is a really unique opportunity no matter how it shook out whether we were going to go as authors or speakers. We were going to find a way to make it to Atlanta no matter what. We’re really looking forward to it. As I said, it’s a special and unique event focused on authors who have got a couple of books under their belt and are looking to take it to the next level whether that comes to issues of craft or marketing, what have you. There are going to be a lot of very popular, very successful authors, with a lot of knowledge to share and I’m really looking forward to it in 2020.
Jeff: We’re actually going to have Lucy Lennox on this show in a few weeks. We’re going to talk to her while we’re at GRL and find out how she’s evolving her career to do things like PAGE to add into her author business. We hear so often that expanding what you’re doing as an author is important. Lucy’s certainly somebody to learn from on any number of levels and I think finding out more about the origins of PAGE is going to be very interesting.
Will: As Jeff mentioned the seats are limited. If you’d like to see if there is still space available, all you have to do is go to PageEvent.com and you can find out more.
Okay, let’s get this week’s update on your class. Can you tell us what went on this week when it comes to learnin’ and a writin’?
Jeff: Learnin’ and a writin’? Thank God there was no ‘rithmetic in that. Me and math don’t get along at all.
How would I frame class? I think I was nervous going into Thursday’s class. Would you characterize my Thursday morning as being skittish or something?
Will: Why were you skittish?
Jeff: Well as I mentioned last week, I was in the hot seat for this week’s class and the hot seat is where one of the class participants has to step up and discuss their characters and their plot as far as they’ve got it sorted out.
It’s an opportunity to ask for help from the class for any particular issues that you’re having. It’s an opportunity for the class to give feedback on your story because the hot seat is the first time we get to hear about one of our classmates stories unless they have shared elements of it within our class Slack channel. So I got to step up this week and talk about the “Kyle Project.”
It was scary getting into it. But then as I started talking about it, I kind of relaxed into a little bit because I was better prepared than I thought I was. I explained my two characters. I explained the plot to the point that I had it. I was about 25 percent of the way through act three in the plot and I plot my romance books using Gwen Hayes’s “Romancing the Beats.” If you’re familiar with that, it gives you an idea of where I was at the top of act three as they’ve kind of made their initial declarations of love to each other but you know hard times are right around the corner because we’re going to start to break that up and that’s where some of my issues were.
I knew where the book was going to end and I knew a couple of the conflict points that I needed to put in, but I was lacking some external motivations for one of my characters and some other key points. I have to say class really came through for me. As we talked it out, Rachael along with my… I think all 11 other people were there this week. We don’t always have a full class because three o’clock Eastern on a weekday, not everyone can always get to class, but I think we were pretty full capacity this week.
I got a lot of really solid ideas what to do with my hockey player and my tech entrepreneur to smash the crap out of the relationship. I didn’t need much help on the up front but smashing the relationship to hit the dark moments right, I had a lot of good feedback. After class Will and I went out to dinner and I finally revealed the book’s plot to him for the first time, other than some of the very high level stuff, and then you kind of came in and put a big shiny bow on top of everything. Giving me kind of the last piece of what I think will make this a successful category-esque type romance.
I talked to you a lot about what went on in class and the the stuff that I got. What did you think of everything that I got out of it?
Will: Well first and foremost, I think when it comes to writing genre romance your story is only as good as your black moment. It’s something that the whole story is sort of working towards. I think all romance readers know exactly what I’m talking about.
Jeff: And that was something that I was certainly missing. I think I had one character’s black moment, but not the other’s.
Will: Yes. Essentially you had the story laid out all the way up until the black moment. And then that’s where the plot got a little bit fuzzy and I think talking to other people and sort of riffing on a couple of different ideas and concepts helped you focus in on what the main issue for your two main characters is going to be and how you can resolve that in a satisfying way for readers. I think you got a lot out of this particular session of class and sitting across from you at the table at dinner that night…
That’s something we tend to do when we have stuff we need to talk about. We go out to dinner and we have “topics” to discuss and this is one of those topics. We talked about Jeff’s story because this is the first time he’s really gone into any specific detail of what the characters and story we’re about with me specifically. So that was good and fun and I gave my very harsh assessment as I am want to do.
Jeff: It wasn’t that harsh. He was actually quite well behaved with the delivery of his assessment.
Will: When you explained to me what the story was, I essentially said you’re doing the exact same thing you always do, you have two nice guys who fall in love. Period and that’s just sort of it. That’s not a story. No one wants to read that. That’s boring. So you have to lay conflict on top of that and if you gave your characters specific goals from the very beginning, that’s a lot of the heavy lifting already done.
I think what you managed to create with this story so far was a lot of internal conflict, but that’s sort of hard to illustrate in a book. You can of course use internal monologue and that kind of thing, but a story needs action. It needs people doing something to keep readers engaged. That’s not something you excel at.
Jeff: It really isn’t. I’m really good with the internal material. In this case it, and you’ve heard all of it, so you could tell me what you think, I had enough of the right component pieces that figuring out the external goals didn’t require a lot of hair pulling, if you will.
Will: What you had is a lot of Lego pieces and I think class helped you snap them into a recognizable shape and it’s like “oh that’s a romance story. I get it now.” So yeah.
Jeff: And like I said, you put the shiny bow on top really providing the final… Like this is what’s going to happen to these guys. It’s going to make them come out wholehearted on the other side.
And I like your Lego analogy. That’s really good. I’m going to use that again sometime. So, yeah, class was really good. I anticipate getting the rest of the book plotted out over the next week. I’m still writing in act one. I’ve almost got act one finished in terms of the writing.
So undoubtedly in revisions I’m going to go back and have to seed the few things for what I’ve figured out. But I think most of that seeding will happen in act two as these two get to know each other and know more about their goals.
Will: Congratulations on taking that big step. I’m proud of you.
Jeff: I’m a little proud of me too, because I don’t normally go into that much plot with other people. I think it shows the inherit trust that’s already built into this class. We’re essentially 12 strangers, when you count Rachael. I mean I know Rachael a little bit, but I’ve never shared plot with her before. So far I’m the fifth one or fourth one to do hot seat and everybody comes in really open and ready to learn from everyone else. Taking the feedback, and people often talk about writer’s groups and how it varies what you can get out of them, I feel like I’m getting a lot out of this class. I got a lot in my own hot seat, but I also learn other things along the way from hearing other people’s plots and working with the class to help solve their problems. It’s been a really constructive environment that I think I will miss when this class is over in December.
So should we move into topic of the week.
So I actually put this one on our calendar this week because my brain has been working… It’s been a weird five or six months.
So much has happened since the summer and it goes back to when we got curated on the Apple Podcast list for Pride and we got to go to the RITAs and present and you know on through the Oprah stuff from the past week. My imposter syndrome is running at possibly an all-time high right now.
And I can add that to comparisonitis that I’ve had recently. My brain is a little in shocky overload occasionally. It’s weird to me that I’m in this spot because I totally get both of these situations but I also have a hard time talking myself back out of it a little bit too.
The comparisonitis has really been some book hangover. I think its hit me harder this year because for some reason it feels like 2019 has been such an extraordinary year for the books that we’ve read. It goes all the way back to the beginning of the year with some of the stuff that came out in January and I read these books and I’m like I don’t write like this. I don’t craft stories at this way. These are such extraordinary stories and it all just piles up.
I totally get how it can be completely constraining for folks. Somehow through this past bit I’ve actually managed to keep writing and I think part of that is the driving force of class keeping me going cause I’m only about 700 words off the target I should have for where I am in class. So that’s good, but… Yeah, man, my brain… It needs some help to be able to push this stuff down or level it out better.
You’re our resident reader of all things. Why do you think I’m in this spot right now? What have I done to myself to make all this pile up on me?
Will: I’m well. I’m not sure I can… I think you’re the only one who can answer the question.
As you were explaining your internal turmoil, I’m struck by how very different we are because I don’t feel like imposter syndrome or comparisonits specifically is something that I personally suffer from. I assume that’s probably because of my innate narcissism.
It’s just I don’t worry about that sort of thing. I am who I am at this point in my life and comparing that to other people is not productive. It doesn’t make sense to me internally.
Jeff: Totally not productive.
Will: Well, I know I understand that. It may not logically make sense but that doesn’t keep you from feeling it. I totally understand that plus I’ve got… God, I’ve got my own hang-ups in a couple of different areas that you don’t experience at all. If we’re laying on the couch and talking about our own mental internal dialogue I think… Is the purpose of this discussion to work out why or how we can fix that? Or is it just you want to express your feelings in the moment?
Jeff: It might just be express my feelings in a moment because it’s something I think we certainly all feel it from time to time. It could be one of those things that as authors we don’t necessarily talk a lot about. I think heading into GRL too, or an event where you’re around a lot of authors, you’re going to end up in these scenarios.
It’s weird because sometimes I can control this really well. It was last year at the GRL signing. I was next to TJ Klune and around the corner from Amy Lane. I don’t write in their league. I just don’t have that number of fans. It could have completely wigged me out because both of them had lines for days. And I didn’t have a line for days and that’s fine. I don’t expect that and that particular thing didn’t freak me out at all. I really liked being next to TJ and around the corner from Amy. It put me in a spot to be seen by people. Sometimes TJ’s line was in front of my table so I got to talk to his folks and expose them to my stuff.
So yeah, that is part of how my brain works because that scenario didn’t freak me out, but I can certainly see how that could for authors going to GRL, especially the first time. It can be like, this person has all this and I don’t. In that situation you’ve got to keep yourself together so you don’t freak yourself out there.
I’m totally babbling…
Will: What you’re describing can, if you let it overtake you, can do some real psychic damage. It can affect your work and it can affect the way that other people see you in reference to your author persona and your author business.
Everyone listening, if you suffer from imposter syndrome or some form of comparisonitis don’t let that turn toxic because it certainly can if you let it go unchecked or unabated. If you are starting to feel anxiety or stress in these certain situations my only advice would be to try your very best to take a step back to identify and understand why you’re feeling the way that you’re and know that it is perfectly okay to feel those feelings and experience that.
I use the phrase “just kind of sit in it.” Just be in the moment experience it and then once you’ve done that you are prepared to move on.
Jeff: And if you can, find somebody you can discuss it with. I have the perfect sounding board standing right here next to me because when I get like this, he could either recognize it and pat me on my head and I don’t mean that in a condescending way either. To be like it is okay have a moment and move on.
Will: I tell him to knock it off.
Jeff: It sounds really bad but when you’re together 20 years the shorthand actually works really well. But find the person to talk to about it because I think because we all experience it and maybe we don’t talk about it enough that could help keep it from becoming that toxic thing inside you as well.
If you have that trusted person in your in your circle, and hopefully everybody as authors we build up our trusted tribe of fellow authors to talk to.
Will: If you find yourself in a situation where you are thinking these thoughts or feeling these feelings as I said try and take a moment and understand that it’s something we all go through. Try to be kind to yourself and know that wherever you are in your personal or author journey that is where you are supposed to be in that moment. We’re always experiencing life on a continuum. We’re always moving forward in some way or another. Please recognize that other authors feel the same thing as well.
You might look at an author who has multiple number one best-selling books and say, you know, I could never write like that or I could never have that much success. Please realize that that author started out at the very beginning in the exact same way as you. There’s really nothing different.
You’re both experiencing your own journeys in your own specific ways, but. We all start somewhere and we all experience highs and lows when it comes to creative entrepreneurship. So you’re where you’re supposed to be and as long as you are learning and moving forward and doing the very best that you can at that moment that’s all anyone can ask.
Jeff: See, these are the brilliant pep talks that I get when I get this way. So well done.
You’ve done Legos and continuums in this episode and that’s pretty brilliant in my point of view.
Will: I’m a fount of wisdom. I’m like one of those smart owls that goes to college.
Jeff: The smart owl just keeps turning up all over the place.
Well, that’s that’s my bit off my chest. I’ve had my therapy for this episode.
Will: Really quickly something else that we discussed at dinner the other night is that Jeff had a quick meeting with our financial planner this week. That led to a discussion of what retirement is going to look for the both of us because, yes, we are that old, and what we can realistically expect to achieve in the coming years and how that’s going to affect our plan for the rest of 2019 and moving into 2020 which led us to a kind of a quick discussion of some of the aggressive tactics I think I’m going to have to take in order to get my career off the ground.
We can probably go into this in more detail in another episode, but that’s something that we’re thinking about as we’re closing out this year. I know a lot of you are either already thinking ahead or you’re panicking because you don’t feel like you have enough time to finish out everything you want to do in 2019.
Trust me. There is still plenty of time. If you are putting the finishing touches on your holiday story that you want to release in 2019, there’s still plenty of time to do that. Keep plugging away. Don’t worry. And for those of you who are like me, looking forward. Not necessarily looking forward to with enthusiasm but looking forward metaphorically to the new year and making plans.
Be big. Be audacious. I’ve been reading some business stuff. Things about habits and planning and there’s some recommendations, you know take it slow, take baby steps and then there’s others others that say the exact opposite. Go big! 10X everything. That kind of a thing.
I know I’ve got to make some big changes. I’m going to try to find my personal happy medium between those two extremes.
Jeff: And I think we should clarify on retirement. It’s not so much retire, go live in Hawaii, though that would be lovely.
Will: I want to do that.
Jeff: This is more about finding that moment where the day job can be exited and we do what this show’s about which is about being full-time authors of gay fiction. Part of that is trying to look at, from a retirement planning standpoint, what do we need to do if I wanted to retire at 55 or at 60 and the money we would need to have on hand. It’s math people. It’s complicated math and it makes my head hurt, but knowledge is power. And so we’re sorting all this crap out.
Will: Yeah. Big things. Big things for years to come.
Jeff: Yes. Because apparently life expectancy is in the 90s which seems crazy and we would like the money to live on.
Will: Okay guys. I hope our discussion this week has helped you or…
Jeff: At least not confused you to pieces.
Will: I think that’s gonna do it for now.
If you’d like links to anything that we’ve discussed this week, simply go to the shownotes page for episode 14 at BigGayAuthorPodcast.com. On the shownotes page you’ll also find the links to our individual websites and social media including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram
Jeff: And speaking of Twitter, you can follow us at BigGayAuthor where we’ll share things during the week the catch our attention. I was particularly intrigued this week that apparently you can apply for jobs at McDonald’s on the Alexa app. Not that I want a job at McDonald’s mind you, but the mere fact that you can apply for a job on voice technology was interesting and very curious. It almost made me want to start one just to see what the experience was.
Anyway, if you want to give us feedback on this show, and why I might be talking about certain voice assistants, or if you have any suggestions on topics or anything else you can tweet us or leave us comments on the shownotes page. Also be sure to subscribe to the show so that you never miss an episode. We are available anywhere you listen to podcasts.
Will: Okay guys, that’ll do.
My question for you, as always, is going to be what will you create in the next seven days?
Thank you everyone for listening. We hope that you’ll join us again next week.
Until then keep writing.