In my quest to improve myself by reading more than one book this year, I made a point to try and finish one that was given to me last Christmas, (I think anyway). Namely, Amanda Palmer’s, The Art of Asking. There was a passage in there that really jumped out at me whilst I was reading it, and it went like this:
I’ve had a problem feeling real all my life.
I didn’t know until recently how absolutely universal that feeling is. For a long time, I thought I was alone. Psychologists have a term for it: imposter syndrome. But before I knew that phrase existed, I coined my own: The Fraud Police.
The Fraud Police are the imaginary, terrifying force of “real” grown ups who you believe - at some subconscious level - are going to come knocking on your door in the middle of the night saying,
We’ve been watching you and we have evidence that you have NO IDEA WHAT YOU’RE DOING. You stand accused of the crime of completely winging it, you are guilty of making shit up as you go along, you do not actually deserve your job, we taking everything away and we are TELLING EVERYBODY.
I love this quote. It encapsulates the ongoing anxiety that maybe you are on the wrong path and that every little victory is undeserved.
At the time, (and keep in mind this is ongoing) I was wondering if I was really putting my energy to good use. Should I have directed my attention to a more worthy cause? Was concentrating on art an entirely selfish pursuit and if it was, should I feel bad? Despite the countless hours drawing, writing, posting and commenting, was I really qualified to do this?
When were the Fraud Police going to notice I was a creative criminal?
You think that when you sign a contract or get enough money, that that will make you legit. That when the FP come a-knocking, you’ll be able to provide the evidence, the alibi and have enough money to pay for the lawyer. That’s when you’ll be #adulting.
It is hard for me to come to terms with the idea that I don’t think I will ever feel 100% legitimate, no matter where my career takes me. But knowing this helps. As when I look at other creators, particularly ones that are considered bonafide professionals, I know that at some point, even if it is no longer the case, they too, felt the presence of the Fraud Police.
As Amanda Palmer said,
In both the art and the business worlds, the difference between the amateurs and the professionals is simple:
The professionals know they’re winging it.
The amateurs pretend they’re not.
Do you feel the presence of the Fraud Police? How do you handle it? Tell us in the comment section below or join us in the forums.
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Amanda Palmer and the Fraud PoliceEmma_Clare at 12:00AM, Nov. 23, 2018
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RobertRVeith at 4:16PM, Nov. 26, 2018
The worst thing is being introduced as an expert on a particular subject and not being able to convince anyone you are anything but.
PaulEberhardt at 11:02AM, Nov. 25, 2018
A German proverb for good measure: "If you copy from one source it's theft, if you copy from all of them it's research."
PaulEberhardt at 10:59AM, Nov. 25, 2018
I nick stuff all the time and can still look at my reflection in the mirror without flinching. It's either called "postmodernism" or "parody", depending on how much you mess it up ;). I expect getting into a shootout with the FP most every day, but so far they haven't knocked. The reason that you can get away with quite a lot is that there probably hasn't been a work that wasn't in some way derivative ever since some caveman started oral tradition (If you don't think so I challenge you to name one, and I bet you I'll find some earlier source that relates to it in some way). Those who come up with truly original ideas deserve to be worshipped as heroes, but we'd have precious little reading material if they were the only ones that are acceptable. It's much more realistic to see everything as part of a big chain of constant development in which each of us is just one tiny link.
JaymonRising at 9:53PM, Nov. 23, 2018
Actually, Neil Gaiman can relate (I just didn't want to bring it up because synchronicity freaks me out, having seen this only a couple of days ago) https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=ikAb-NYkseI
bravo1102 at 7:11AM, Nov. 23, 2018
I am a derivative hack and readily admit to stealing and twisting other people's great ideas. I'm not pretentious enough to somehow think anyone could if I am faking it with this whole webcomics thing. But real life? Reality can hit you from all sides so improvise, overcome, adapt. You gotta fake it sometimes. It's improvisation.
JaymonRising at 6:38AM, Nov. 23, 2018
Meh, although they were Bill and Ted knockoffs, I doubt that Jands were seriously worth it anyway if the most original idea I ever gave them was the unbearably inhuman manner of killing them off which haunts me to this day despite replacing it with something more "magical" that only a person who deserves to be called a big fan of these characters (instead of just someone with too many drug addicted irregularities in the brain to be worth taking serously) would have had the common sense to give them right away. I still might return to them if I actually heal once 'Trump' is out of office. XP
Ozoneocean at 8:51PM, Nov. 22, 2018
Yup, I think we all feel this way. :) It takes a long time for it to fade. And in any profession there's always more to know so even if you think you're an expert there's usually always someone doing the same job who'll make you feel like an amateur.