imposter syndrome

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Do you know what imposter syndrome is?  I don’t know a single creative who isn’t plagued by it at some point in their career, if not through their whole career. I am no different.

It usually hits about now, when I have submitted a book to an editor and I’m waiting for the return.  There’s this voice in the back of my head that starts whispering that this is it, this is the moment when everyone finds out that I’m a hack, that I can’t write my way out of a paper bag, my plots recycled, my characters flat.

This is it.  This is where it all ends.

Of course, it doesn’t actually end here.  In a week or so I’ll get my edits back with things I need to fix and notes on character or plot, along with notes of cheerleading from my editor and lots of exclamation marks around how much she loved it.

That will placate the voices for a while, until I’m ready to turn it in for publishing.  Then it all comes flooding back and it can be crippling.  This is when that voice accusing me of being an imposter is joined by all of those voices that show me the lack of external validation…”You can’t even get reviews on the first two, what makes you think anyone wants to read your drivel?”

Is it any wonder that creatives are such fragile creatures sometimes?

Lest you think that it’s just in my creative writing I suffer this madness, know that just this month I received a raise in my day job that puts me at a level I’ve never expected to reach, and still, at least twice a week I’m struck with absolute terror that they’re going to realize I’m just posing, that I don’t know what I’m doing (despite the evidence to the contrary) and put me out on the street.

The only cure I know is to just keep going, which is why I’m eight pages into the seventh chapter of my next book.  It feels good to be writing a new story in a new world and a different style.

Take that, voices.


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