The Uncertainty Principle: or how do writers know if they are any good?

You see it all the time when people say they are writers, that hesitant, slightly embarrassed hitch in the voice, a certain shiftiness in the eyes, as if they are claiming to have just eaten the Eifel tower while no one was looking. It’s a lie, says the voice, or at very least a kind of half-joke. Of course, I’m not a real writer, say the flitting eyes. That would be absurd.

This isn’t just something you get from newbies or from writers who haven’t yet been published. It’s rampant among perfectly successful authors (including myself and my esteemed MW colleagues), that nagging anxiety that however much we managed to land a book deal and even rack up some sales or awards, we’re frauds.

David talked about this persistent concern the other day but I want to push it into a slightly different area. Where do these insecurities come from […]

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