Imposter Syndrome

insecurity-1306280_960_720So I have this thing called low self-esteem. I’ve had it for as long as I can remember, all my life really, and I know I’ve missed out on a lot of opportunities because of it.

My shy, introverted self doesn’t exactly help with matters, neither do my random bouts with anxiety and depression, but I also know extroverts aren’t immune to its negative grip.

Mine usually manifests itself in the form of a tiny voice in my head telling me I’m not good enough, that nothing I do is ever good enough.

And unfortunately, being a writer can sometimes compound that voice until it drowns out reason. Maybe that’s just one of the downsides of being a creative person since it requires a critical voice, because sometimes that voice turns against you. Instead of being critical of sentence structure or word choice, it grows into a full blown attack on everything you do.

At least that’s what happens to me.

When I started writing a few years ago, it took me over six months before I let my guard down enough to consider myself a writer, and some days I still don’t. It doesn’t make much sense because as soon as I started tapping into that creative vein and putting the words to “paper,” I was a writer. But after years and years of self-doubt, I never thought something I created would be liked. Despite warm comments from readers, I couldn’t let myself believe any of it.

A similar thing happened after Taming the Wyld was accepted for publication. I was left with a surreal feeling after the initial thrill wore off. I had a hard time believing I was good enough for publication, because some days I’m just not strong enough to ward off imposter syndrome. Some days, I feel like a complete fraud.

I love how TTW turned out, but there was still this part of me that couldn’t accept that it was real, not even after I started edits, or chose the cover, or saw the final galley. My brain just couldn’t fully register it was happening.

But it was. And I have an Amazon link to prove it. It doesn’t get any more real than that.

Some strangers at DSP who know a lot more about the business of writing than I were willing to take a chance with my stories. They have invested money into me and my books, and that’s something that took me a while to realize. That little nugget of truth gave me a different perspective about myself, and it came with a boost of confidence.

On top of that, the release of my first full length novel is only two weeks away. I struggled to finish the last 25k words of Past the Breakers. I questioned if it was good enough, but getting the contract offer validated everything that I’m trying to do here, and it helped to turn down the volume of that nagging voice inside my head. I know I’m not the best writer, I might not even be a great one, but I’m better than mediocre. And some days that’s enough.

Maybe I’ve gotten lucky, three consecutive times, or maybe I’m not as bad as my brain likes to tell me I am. (My friends agree with the latter, but my brain also likes to remind me they’re biased.) Either way, I feel good about things right now for the first time in a long time.

Even so, that voice is like an albatross around my neck, talons digging in as it whispers, “How long can it last?”