Like every kid enrolled in a public school in France in the 1990s, I started learning my second language in sixth grade.
English was the bane of my existence for several years. No matter how hard I tried, I could not learn anything. My grades were terrible.
Something changed during the summer preceding 10th grade. My mother, who taught math in high school, bought me a few magazines in English, as well as the entire BBC Learning English collection. I started reading and studying the language at my own pace. English became the first love of my life, one of my strongest subjects in high school, and the object of my six-year studies at university.
My relationship with English has shaped my career in many ways. I would not be the (healthy) self-confident creative I am today without the challenges I encountered during my first years as a learner. Many of those came in the form of naysayers.
One was my eighth-grade teacher, who once told my parents that if I ever were fluent in English, he would become a priest. There was also a professor during my freshman year who mocked me publicly when I talked about my desire of being an English professor.
Instead of traumatizing me, those experiences invigorated me. They prompted me to take action and be my own champion. They taught me that if I worked hard and consistently, treated myself with respect, and refused to let others define my path, nothing and no one could ever stop me.
I may not be a household name for 99.99% of the world, but those guiding principles have allowed me to achieve more in my field in 20 years than many people in a lifetime. And, to me, it is the best definition of success.
Why am I telling you all this? Because I see too many writers waste their time seeking validation from others or taking things personally when they read negative comments about their work.
There is a simple explanation for it: Lack of self-esteem.
Writers are among the least self-confident people on the planet. And it is not always our fault. For decades, we have been brainwashed into thinking that the creative path is a terrible career choice, that we should not expect compensation for our work, and that only books published traditionally are considered worthy of reads.
And yet, rarely have we been encouraged to ask ourselves why we feel so compelled to write and why studying this "why" (without judgment) will truly help us understand our creative process--and who we are in the long run.
Vocal Creator Mackenzie Davis and I recently decided to come together to craft a series of essays that deal with that particular theme. Our goal is to help creators start an uplifting inner dialogue, get past potential roadblocks, build their self-confidence, and take their work to the next level.
We already have a few ideas, but we still need your suggestions. What are some rarely covered topics that you would like us to address? Questions that you have always wanted to ask? We are all ears (and eyes)! ;-)
Mackenzie and I hope to get started in October, so plenty of time to get your questions in!
Cendrine Marrouat is a writer, photographer, podcaster, blogger, anthology editor, and the co-founder of Auroras & Blossoms and A Warm Cup of Cozy. She has authored and co-authored more than 40 books, including The Train: A Short Story (2023), In Her Own Words: A Collection of Short Stories & Flashku (2022), After the Fires of Day: Haiku Inspired by Kahlil Gibran & Alphonse de Lamartine (2021), Rhythm Flourishing: A Collection of Kindku and Sixku (2020), Walks: A Collection of Haiku (2019-2020), and In the Silence of Words: A Three-Act Play (2018).
Cendrine's work has appeared in many publications. She is the creator of the Sixku, Flashku, Sepigram, and Reminigram; as well as the co-creator of the Kindku, Pareiku, Vardhaku, and Hemingku.
Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!