I grew up in the U.S. deep south as a preacher's kid, and one of the things I realized as an adult is this: the definition of a "real" Christian varies with who you ask. My favorite people have a looser definition, giving plenty of room for different personalities and different opinions on the things that aren't at the core of the Christian faith. My least favorite people have very narrow, specific definitions. In the worst cases, there's an insane standard everyone has to meet, and if you don't... then you're not a "real" Christian and have to be nagged until you shape up. (You know. For your soul.) These people are more likely to intentionally drive people away for failing to fit in.

There are writers who do the same thing. People who dictate what you have to do to be a "real" writer and put conditions on their acceptance, just like the worst Christians. The standard varies, but the most common requirement is to be traditionally published. Sometimes, the standard is even narrower, defining exactly what they themselves do or aspire to do, and the definition changes only when they change, to better fit them.

"Real" is them. Anything other is less.

And it's hogwash. All of it. It's an excuse to feel superior in venues where people, for the most part, can be different and still fall under the same umbrella. It's an attempt to make those venues exclusive and make themselves special. Better. More impressive. It's a grab for self-worth that is assigned by and for the individual.

My therapist gave me a book about Self Compassion, which I have not fully read because I'm terrible at reading things I'm asked to read, but there's this quote at the beginning about being as kind and forgiving to yourself as you are to your friends.

So here's the thing: I have always been uncomfortable with the idea of calling myself an author if I self-publish instead of traditionally publish, but I don't hold my friends to that standard. I know several people who've self-published, and they call themselves authors, and I have no problem with that. And I only just realized that I have a different standard for myself, and I probably shouldn't. And it's because of fear.

The people who look down on self-publication, the people whose judgment I have expected and feared if I self-published, it's just like the judgment of those worst Christians, the nitpickers, the ones who tried and would still try to fit me into a box of their making, a box I set on fire when those same people praised and voted for a man who was everything they told me not to be.

Today I thought, Why should I listen to judgmental writers when I've already rejected judgmental Christians?

So fuck them. Fuck the idea that I need to be someone else's ideal. They might belong to different groups, but they have the same bad attitude.

Fuck them all.