Who Am I?


Late last week, I received the edits for a short story I wrote for an upcoming anthology. The editor began by apologizing for it taking so long, and said, “I tried to concentrate on the stories that looked like they need the most editing first. So I guess the delay is a good sign.” Sounds like a compliment, yes? That’s because it is. So you’d probably laugh at me when I say that my first thought was He’s just saying that because I’m friends with the editor who invited me to write for the project.

Which is stupid. But that’s what imposter syndrome makes you do – think stupidly.

Diana Pharoah Francis talked last week about Imposter Syndrome, and how crippling it can be.  When I sold Mad Kestrel, every time I got an email from my editor about this rewrite or that suggestion, there was a tiny voice in my head insisting that the only reason Tor bought it was because my agent was friends with my editor. As if an editor at a major publishing house had the room in the schedule to do his friends favors. Doesn’t happen. There are too many people that have to agree on a book before it gets picked up. It goes through editors and their assistants and various meetings and levels before it ever earns a spot on the publishing schedule. Major publishers have budgets to adhere to and marketing studies that recommend what sort of books they’ll buy. They don’t do favors for first-time writers for the sake of being nice. It’s bad business. All of that meant that Tor bought my book because it was good enough to publish. I knew that good and well, but that tiny voice would not shut up.

I don’t have a solution, either. It’s not generally something you can talk yourself out of. But at least I’m aware that I have a problem, which helps me fight the bad feeling when it pops up. It’s been popping up a lot over the last few days, too. I left my job with the library a week ago today. They’d hired a new building manager who decided to change things, and the changes weren’t going to suit my lifestyle, so I gave notice. Which means that now I’m going to have to devote all my energy to making myself successful. As long as I’m working, all is well. It’s in those quiet moments between that I start hearing that annoying little voice, telling me I’m going to be a burden to my husband and make us destitute, because certainly it’s impossible to earn a living writing. Maybe for other people who are good at it, but not me. And that’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. If I believe I’ll fail, I’ll fail.

So I’m going to get back to work, to shut that voice up and defeat that prophecy. How about you? What are you going to do today to prove to yourself that you can do it?



3 comments to Who Am I?

  • I didn’t realize you’d resigned! Congratulations! And start keeping that personal praise file. Start with what Spike said. Do it now. And we will commiserate and celebrate writing full time and succeeding.

  • Thanks! And yes, I’ll start that file right away. *hugs*

  • Ken

    1. Congratulations, Misty!! That’s great!

    2. What do I do to prove to myself that I can do it? I do the work–as close to every day as I can manage–BIC and HOK. It doesn’t completely stave off imposter syndrome. Nothing ever does, but you can’t fake doing the work and, if you’re doing the work, you’re not a fake.