Am I Qualified to do This?

Upon entering classes at the beginning of this semester, many of my classes had us introduce ourselves, and tell everyone one or two interesting facts. So, I figured being a self-published author is a pretty interesting fact about me, so that’s what I told everyone.

About two or three classes later, two people approached me and asked me if I would help them out by reading/editing some of their writing. Being the nice guy that I (most of the time) am, I agreed and off to work I went. However, this got me thinking: am I really qualified for this?

It’s almost as if, for some reason, these people think that because I’ve self-published that I’m the God of all writing. I know they were really just looking for input and a couple of fixes here and there, but what makes me more qualified than an English professor? I know many English professors at my college have published at least one book, if not many.

I’m almost wondering if maybe it’s just because I’m at a similar age as they are. Maybe they just feel more comfortable with me looking it over because I’m in their age group. But, I’m not entirely sure.

So, continuing on, a few days later a friend of mine from high-school asked me if I would look over a few chapters of his, which I did. A few weeks later another friend of mine asked me if I’d help him write an autobiography about him; which is something I really don’t have experience doing. But, I don’t mind learning something new; so if I have to do a bit of research to help him out, so be it. And finally, another friend of mine, who is also in my band, asked me if I would co-write a science-fiction novel with him. He told me he already had most of it planned out, but he just wanted some help with some characters, and he wanted it to be “our” project. I’m certainly fine with that, of course. I don’t mine helping out my friends if needed, and I’ve never been a co-author on a project before, so that sounded pretty exciting.

So, all of the sudden, because I’ve self-published two novels, I’ve turned into some sort of super writer! Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m always glad to help a fellow writer out, and I love having the practice and knowing that these other people have confidence in me as a writer. However, am I really that qualified to help these people? I mean, I’ve only been seriously writing for about two years now, but I’ve received a number of compliments on some of my work. Could this just be luck? Am I actually talented at something? I’m not really sure how to explain it. Either way, I really am glad that these people have asked me if I would help them out.

Has this happened to you? Have other writers asked you for your help because they know you’ve published something, or because they know you’re a writer?

On a side note, I just received word today that my college newspaper, The Stylus, has allowed me to start my own column about books, writing, and reviews for movies based on books! I’m really excited to start!

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5 thoughts on “Am I Qualified to do This?

  1. I would say having two books published (regardless of self pub or not) and being a student of writing certainly labels you to others as “Professional Writer”. I think “qualified” to do it is answered by the fact that peers and friends are seeking you out. They see you as someone who has written and published, which in their mind means that you must know what you are doing. Perhaps you do not feel that way all of the time. My wife and I were discussing the notion of ‘being’ something. If someone recognizes you by your works as X, then you probably are X. If you go around claiming to be X, but your works show you to be Y or Z, then probably not X. Hackers are a good example. The really good folks do not go around calling themselves hackers. The people around them, who see the talent do. My point is this: By your work in the field of writing, the enjoyment you get from it and the investment of your own time/energy, you have shown yourself to others as a Writer, not just in name, but (more importantly) in action. And that qualifies you for any of the projects that you have decided to take on.

  2. As much as other’s opinions should never really be required to validate us, it does make a difference, doesn’t it? I have been a member of a writing website for a few years now, and last year I joined a group of people wishing to develop strong outlines for their WIPs. Now, I didn’t feel that my contributions were all that valuable – sure, I stated my comments, but I didn’t recognize them as being as helpful as I would have hoped to be. Basically, I thought that everyone I was working with was way ahead of me in talent and skill.
    Yet, a couple of months later, I was invited by the group leader to go on and join another critique group. And that would have been about the point when I realized I do know some stuff. Self-confidence is a wonderful thing, but validation is so much warmer and fuzzier.

  3. I have a friend who has exactly the same problem (she has 2 books published).

    Personally, I don’t mind other people looking over my work who are not “qualified” but, I would always go to an editor for the final edit.

    If it was me I would explain how chuffed I am to be asked, but explain that you’re not an expert šŸ˜‰


  4. I know exactly what you mean. When I was in college, all my friends knew I loved writing so they would ask me to read over their papers. It was pretty fun, and I think that’s why I enjoy editing so much now. Too bad they didn’t pay me. šŸ˜›

    Seriously, though, “qualified” or not, I think it’s a great opportunity for all of you. You probably know more than they do, and, if not, then maybe you could learn from each other. Everyone has their own style and preferences. Don’t think about it as being “qualified,” but think about it as bringing your own unique knowledge to the table.

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