“That order goes to Mary Pipher out on the patio.”

Mary Pipher is in my restaurant?

I said to the server, “I will take this one out myself.”

Earlier this year, I finished reading her book on writing, Writing to Change the World. I came across a copy at a book sale and decided I liked the title, and since Mary was a noted author from Lincoln, I decided to give it a shot. In it she spoke of a writing group that meets once a month to read each others work and offer comments and feedback. It appeared that they chose my place to convene this time.

As I took the plate to the table, I introduced myself as the owner of the restaurant, thanked her for visiting and added a comment that I am familiar with her work and was encouraged by her book about writing that I recently read. She quickly replied,

“Oh, are you a writer, too?”

I fumbled for a response. I gave one that was a bit self protective. I was, after all, in the presence of a real live, internationally known author. Funny that I couldn’t just say yes.

“I aspire to be one, I guess.”

It’s why nobody wants to cook for a chef, or make coffee for a skilled barista, or show a piece of homemade furniture to Norm Abrams. Even though he may be the nicest, most sensitive guy in the world, it’s still a risk to put it out there and say, this is mine.

To accept the title of writer (or musician, or poet, or artist, or even chef) is to deal with that fear of my work not looking as good as yours. Any kind of work is a reflection of the person that produced it and that’s just never going to go away.

The other way to combat this trepidation is with arrogance and that’s no good either. I think it’s why you may see the highly talented act like assholes. The insecurity is the same, only the stakes are higher.

Love your work, and the praise of it, and keep them in that order.

Order up