Never give up on your dreams
Love it or hate it, Glee has something to teach writers. I’ve spent the last 6 weeks binge watching the show. It’s my guilty pleasure when I’m sick. The show most closely follows the lives of Rachel Berry and Kurt Hummel, but the character who interests me most is Mercedes Jones.
Mercedes never doubts her talent
The glee club is the collective underdog of McKinley High School. Its members are victimized regularly by other students, from being thrown in dumpsters, to being locked in port-a-potties, to having slushies thrown in their faces.
The club’s members, misfits one and all, find acceptance and, in a sense, a home with one another. But even within this group, rivalry abounds. This rivalry is epitomized by Rachel Berry, the self-styled star of the group.
Throughout her high school career, Mercedes never gets out from under Rachel’s shadow. She is every bit as talented as Rachel but spends most of her time in the background.
Despite this, Mercedes never once doubts her own talent. In one episode in season one she says, “Oh, hell to the no! Look, I’m not down with this background singing nonsense! I’m Beyoncé, I ain’t no Kelly Rowland!”
This young woman knows who she is and what she’s worth, no matter how others see her or how many obstacles are placed in her way.
She fights for her place
Though Mercedes sometimes approaches fighting for recognition the wrong way, the point is that she never gives up the fight. She demands her rightful place, vocally, with varying degrees of success. “Why is it that no one ever wants to hurt her feelings? You know, it’s always been The Rachel Berry Show around here, but it’s not gonna be for me. No, not my senior year.”
Mercedes perseveres until she makes it
She lands a recording contract out of high school, and though it falls apart, she doesn’t quit. She keeps going until she becomes a successful recording artist.
She gives back
As Mercedes career blossoms, she returns to McKinley High to encourage young singers coming up through the Glee club that had nurtured her. She understands that to be her best, she needs to be a mentor.
What this means for writers
Writers tend to lack a consistently positive view of themselves and their work. I don’t know about you, but I can travel the road from, “This is great. I really am a writer,” to, “I’m not that good. No one will publish this,” in under sixty seconds. I bet most of you can too.
We suffer from impostor syndrome. We hope we’ve got what it takes to make it, but how much do we really believe it? How many stories do you have hidden away that you’re too afraid to risk submitting? How often do you look at your own work and negatively compare it to that of published authors?
Belief in yourself is a choice. Mercedes chooses to believe, no matter what life throws at her. No matter how many times she fails to get what she wants or needs.
Success is built upon belief. Belief is what makes you sit down and write every day, whether anyone reads your work or not. It’s what makes you strive to be better, to learn more. It makes you put yourself out there to critique groups and to submit your short stories to publications— a hundred times if necessary.
It’s what keeps us writing when no one is reading our work.
Rejection is a fact of life for writers
No matter what you write, it’s tough to get published and tough to make if even if you do. It’s easy to become discouraged by rejection after rejection. It’s even easier to not submit at all and not have to face those rejections.
But you’ll never make it as a writer if you don’t put yourself out there. There will always be writers better than you. There will also be writers who are worse. Comparing yourself to others isn’t helpful. That only allows you to reject yourself and your writing before anyone else can.
Think about why you first started to write
Did you think you had something to say? Were you in love with stories and wanted to create your own? Were you inspired by your favorite author?
Whatever your answer to these questions, the fact is something made you a writer. It created a passion within you and enough of a belief in yourself that you started.
Nurture that belief. Fan its flame. Believe in yourself as a writer and know your worth, no matter how others see you or how many obstacles stand in your way. Stand up and say, “I am a writer.”