Imposter Syndrome and the Writing World

Recently, I came across a few posts about Imposter Syndrome. Along with that link, there is a very good personal essay about one woman’s experience with it over on Geek Feminism.

The short definition is “Impostor syndrome describes a situation where someone feels like an imposter or fraud because they think that their accomplishments are nowhere near as good as those of the people around them. Usually, their accomplishments are just as good, and the person is being needlessly insecure.”[above link]

I was struck when I first started reading about this, because it absolutely describes the problems I have faced in trying to learn more about computer technology. I’ve wanted to learn various things, but feel that I’m not good enough, and I frequently find myself denying what I know I’m good at. I’m always second-guessing myself.

And then I realized that it’s not just the geeky stuff that it affects; it affects my writing, too.

If someone asks me about my writing achievements, I will certainly mention what I’ve done, but I’m quick follow up with “but.” “But I’m just e-published.” “But I haven’t sold much.” “But it’s not that good.” I don’t feel like I have made any huge accomplishments to be proud of, in part because I’m not published through a big New York house. Realistically, that is becoming less important every single year, and even if I were, I think I would still feel the same way.

It’s something I hear a lot from writers. I’ve been in a lot of writers’ groups, and it’s so very common that someone will get published, but still feel like they’re some kind of sham. That it’s not real. That they’re making it up. I suspect the “sophomore novel” blues that frequently are discussed have something to do with Imposter Syndrome — we have trouble believing that what we’ve done is real and valuable, and now that the whole world is looking at us, now they’re going to see what a farce we really are.

This year, I wanted to submit ideas for panels to my local SF convention. I went last year, and they had a wide range of panelists. Many people only had short story publications, and some were not even published, but had real life experience in what they were talking about. Despite having several e-published books, I couldn’t believe that anyone would take me seriously. I was convinced people would just laugh at me. That they’d see that I was some sort of fake, a fraud. And then came the shame, that, who the hell did I think I was, trying to present myself as some sort of expert? What the fuck was I thinking, that I had anything worthwhile to share?

All these things ran through my head, and my gut twisted and turned, and I just let the deadline pass, because deep-down, some part of me doesn’t believe that I have the credentials to speak on — well, any issue. And truthfully, I don’t think it would be any different if I were NY published. Because I have seen the same thing from NY published authors.

And it seems primarily a problem that affects women. We are so devalued by society that it is hard for us to believe that our ideas and experiences are worthwhile. It is hard to believe that there are those that would value our expertise when it is still common to run across people who tell you to shut up and demand to speak to a man instead. It’s something that is reiterated through all our lives, when as kids boys are called on more often in class to answer questions and rewarded more.

Even now, just writing this, my gut is twisting and I fear that I’ll be ridiculed for speaking about this with any sort of authority — because, after all, don’t others have it worse? Aren’t there other people better able to speak? Why should anyone believe me?

It’s part of what led to a breakdown the other night when I received a hurtful comment related to some of my writing. The comment came from someone I trusted, and the novel the commentary was about was one that I had some amount of confidence about. The end result being that I was completely torn up and questioning whether I should even keep at this thing, because, well, obviously I’m just a fake and not anywhere near as good as I think, and I should just give up and make way for Real Writers…

And I know that’s bullshit. I really do. And I suspect some people are going to be rolling their eyes here and thinking that I need to get some self-confidence. But it isn’t about that, really. It’s a cultural issue. Otherwise this wouldn’t be so common. Otherwise you would not see professional, published authors, some of them award-winning even, convinced that they suck.

It’s not generally talked about. I think it needs to be. I think that’s the only way that it will ever change — that we speak up about our fears and our doubts and these deep feelings that we aren’t good enough. Because, you know, I can’t put into words how it felt when I first read that article on Imposter Syndrome. I just about burst into tears, because, oh my gods, there was someone out there that was going through the same thing. It wasn’t just me. I wasn’t crazy.

And I’m writing this, and I’m convinced that I’m going to be told that I’m crazy, that I don’t know what I’m talking about, that it isn’t that big a deal, that I need to suck it up, that I’m some kind of fraud, that I can’t speak about these issues, that this isn’t a real issue, that I’m just making it up. I’m scared to the point of my gut knotting and feeling like I’m going to throw up. But I have to write this, and get it out there, because if I feel this way, there have to be others. I know there are others.

This is a discussion that we need to have. Let’s start.

Excuse the dust…

I’ve re-themed the website yet again, because I found the old design a bit hard to navigate. While I liked it aesthetically, navigation is more important. 😉

A few things are out of whack, like that there’s a second “Home” link I’ll need Morgan to get rid of because it seems to be hard-coded into the theme, along with a second “Meta” box. Overall though, everything is viewable and working fine!

“Wasting the Dawn” Released

Wasting the Dawn is officially out from Forbidden Publications. 😀

Also, I’ve gotten 99% of the stuff from the old emdrake.com moved over to the new site. I’ve got two articles to put up, then I’m done. (The only reason they haven’t been put up yet is because they have connected/sub articles, and I’m not sure how I want to handle that in WordPress.) Which means I then get to figure out what I want to put up for new content.

On the off-chance that someone might actually have an opinion on this *grins*, is there anything you’d like to see on the site?

A Few Changes

I’ve been meaning to set up a “real” website for several months now. I kept saying that I’d get around to learning CSS and building something pretty, but… as much as I’d love to be able to design my own site, it’s not feasible. I don’t have the CSS knowledge, but moreover, I don’t have the graphics knowledge to make it “pretty.” Sure, I could learn, but I don’t have that much effective time, and it seems pointless to waste weeks on a website.

Eventually, I intend to get something custom commissioned, but we don’t have the money for that right now. So I found this theme for WordPress and asked Morgan to make a few modifications. Namely, the drop-down bars. He worked at it all last night to get it set up for me. Much love for my male. 🙂

Yup, that means my blog and my website are now–well, not quite one, but take a look at http://www.emdrake.com and you’ll see what I mean. (If you’ve visited recently, you may need to clear your cache.) I’m still working on converting a lot of stuff over from the static HTML pages to WordPress pages… so please excuse the dust while I get everything sorted out. 😉

This also means that my blog URL has changed. Right now, the male has it set up to forward, so if you’re visiting http://nonny.windsofstorm.net/wordpress or getting a feed from there, it should work for awhile longer. That’s not going to be permanent, though, so please: UPDATE YOUR LINKS TO http://www.emdrake.com/blog.

So much for compulsively Googling myself…

Yeah, I know everyone says you shouldn’t Google yourself for book reviews. (Though I have to wonder how many of those people actually follow their own advice. ^_^) I don’t do it that often, myself. Maybe once every couple of weeks or so. But there seems to be a rule that if a new review is available, the website must be down as soon as I find it.

Seriously. This is, like, the third time it’s happened. I’m beginning to think this might be the Powers That Be giving me a hint whapping me upside the head with a clue-x-4. 😈

Oh well…

Didn’t make it onto the crapometer. Not surprising, since I believe she got over 600 entries in the 12hr open period. Oh well. It’s rather comforting, though, to see the quality — or the lack thereof — of submissions for this. The queries themselves would be one thing, as it’s not easy to condense a novel into a page and a half, but the vast majority of first pages … are in need of serious work.

(Then again, it’s not like I wasn’t submitting crap that was worse back when I was a teen, either, so….)

Viral Blog Experiment

I am participating in a blogging experiment hosted at dearauthor.com. To enter the contest, put up this blurb, image, and trackback and you are entered to win the following prize package.

  • $200 Amazon gift certificate
  • Signed copy of Slave to Sensation
  • New Zealand goodies chosen by Singh
  • ARC of Christine Feehan’s October 31 release: Conspiracy Game

You can read about the experiment here and you can download the code that you need to participate here.

SLAVE TO SENSATION
Nalini Singh
Berkley / September 2006

Slave to Sensation

Welcome to a future where emotion is a crime and powers of the mind clash brutally against those of the heart.

Sascha Duncan is one of the Psy, a psychic race that has cut off its emotions in an effort to prevent murderous insanity. Those who feel are punished by having their brains wiped clean, their personalities and memories destroyed.

Lucas Hunter is a Changeling, a shapeshifter who craves sensation, lives for touch. When their separate worlds collide in the serial murders of Changeling women, Lucas and Sascha must remain bound to their identities…or sacrifice everything for a taste of darkest temptation.

Excerpt

For those of us not attending Nationals …

Since there’s several people who aren’t able / don’t want to attend the annual RWA conference, here’s some of the things going on around the web this week:

  • Book in a Week! I’m running a writing challenge this week over at Romance Divas. Basically, the way it goes, you figure out a goal for this week, write/edit your butt off, and check in for cheers and booyahs. 😉 More info here.
  • Lucy Monroe is holding a Blog Party the entire week, with lots of nifty prizes. There’s lots of cool topics — and all you have to do to be entered in the contests is comment!

Have fun! 😀