>> The Nature of the Wannabeast

One of my biggest fears, possibly my biggest fear of them all, is being perceived as a wannabe.  This fear has its own set of pluses and minuses specific to the way I function–specifically when it comes to things I have a natural talent in.  A plus is that my fear of being a wannabe means I appear humble.  I don’t ever want to be perceived as “that guy”–the one whose ability to talk about his own ouput exceeds the actual talent on display.  When I draw something, and the drawing is good, I’ll talk about it only because I’m often surprised it came out of my pen, not because I think I’m the greatest artist ever.  The crippling downside is that I am often highly dismissive of things I’m good at, and it keeps personal ambition at arm’s length (which is a terrible place for ambition to be).

(The dark side of all this is even tougher for me to reflect upon, which is that my fear of being a wannabe is rooted in a feeling of superiority over those I deem as less talented than me.  If I perceive that someone is not-so-great at what they claim to be able to do, yet they’ve been able to somehow leverage that into a form of success, I’m envious and that envy hums with low-level contempt.  It doesn’t color the way I interact with that person, but it does make me fearful that others will perceive the things I’m good at with the same contemptuous eye I’ve used to judge, causing me to hold back on things related to my own artistic talents.  It’s weird and difficult to admit, and it’s probably my most repulsive psychological trait.)

I can’t pinpoint when this started, but it has affected me for years.  I constantly seek validation, something I can point to that marks me as a pro, and not just as someone dabbling in something.  When CNN linked my Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull review, that was validating.  When I’ve acted in films that have played at Cannes and SXSW, that’s also validating.  The problem is that immediately after those moments are over, I’m back to seeking some kind of nod that I’m not a wannabe.  I struggle to claim that I am a writer and an actor, and not that I want to be a writer and an actor.  I’ve written professionally and I’ve acted professionally, so why is it so hard for me to step up and claim those things for myself as my reality, and not some faraway daydream?

Starting around Fall of last year, I made friends with a handful of working film critics.  These are people who are being paid to write about movies as their full-time job.  I’m not, so I simply stopped writing about movies.  I didn’t want them to think of me as an internet fanboy hanger-on who befriended them with an agenda to get my foot in the door somehow.  My foot has been in the door already–I’ve been doing this off-and-on since 1994, when Filmcans was a cable access TV show.  I’ve seen my film reviews printed in newspapers (which is so wonderfully satisfying).  Why am I still worried about people looking at me as a wannabe?

My break-through happened recently, as I’ve seen a couple of my friends with somewhat limited writing experience, get welcomed with open arms as writers by some of my recent film blogger friends, on some fairly well-known blogs.  It pretty much shattered the way I was thinking people would think of me if I kept pushing through with my own film writing.  These new guys are entering the fray with way more confidence than I currently have, and I’m still sitting here, despite some significant personal accomplishments, doing nothing–too afraid of what people will think of me to update my own website.  I’m envious of them, and the envy is devoid of contempt, because the blame falls solely on myself.

I’m not cured.  This wannabe fear is too big a part of my psyche, but I can conquer it in small doses by willfully taking part in things I’m interested in, maybe even talented in, while ignoring the voice that tells me that I’m not so good at it.  Basically, yes, I’ll be updating this site.  I’ll be adding some content over at Horror’s Not Dead soon.  I’ll be doing the occasional piece at CyberMonkeyDeathSquad.  I’m covering Fantastic Fest this year with Hollywood-Elsewhere.  I’m actively seeking validation, so that I can stop calling myself a wannabe for good.

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4 Comments

  1. Wannabes are not asked by others to participate. You were ASKED to play roles in films. You were ASKED to write for those websites you listed. You were ASKED to draw pictures for people for $5.00 a pop. Those people didn’t do that, and don’t continue to do that, to humor you. They want to see what you can do in front of the camera. They want to read what you have to say about films. They want to view whatever kind of drawing you can make given a brief description. Most importantly, they’re confident enough in your ability to do all of those things that they want others to see you do it as well. They don’t do it BECAUSE they’re your friends. They do it because they like what you can do. The only difference between you and others who consider themselves whatever you want to be, paycheck aside, is exposure. They have readers, viewers, fans because they do it consistently, and would continue to pursue even when others say they’re bad at it. They like to do it, and so they do it. If you like to do it do it. To hell with outside perception.

    You’re an enjoyable presence. I don’t watch what you’re in, read what you write, and look at what you draw because I’m your friend, and I’m sure I’m not alone in that. I (we) do it because I like what you do, when you do it.

    If what you want is approval by others who do what you would want to do I can’t offer that. However, I can say that I’m genuinely entertained by what you do. And I’m not saying that as a friend.

  2. […] to write about today, digging through my usual tinfoil hat sources when I stopped to read a blog post made by my friend, John Gholson, on his site, Filmcans. It got me thinking about what I’m […]

  3. Great post! I’ve been doing research lately and will be bookmarking your site for future reference purposes. Thank you.


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