Lately, I have been experiencing Impostor Syndrome. Not in the traditional sense, in that I’m afraid that people will read my stuff and go “man, he’s no real writer.”
More like, I’ve been questioning my ability. Am I really any good? Is this something that I should be pursuing?
It’s hard. I sit down to write, and just can’t get my self to write more than a few hundred words before the doubts start to crowd in. First, it’s those words I just wrote. They’re utter crap. They are, in fact, such total shit that there is just no way I can even edit them into something that’s just bad, never mind into something someone else will want to read. And if those words are horrible, than the rest of the book I’ve just spent time on getting to 56,000 words on has to be the worst piece of tripe ever written. Ever. Because I’m that bad.
It takes a very special kind of ego-manic to think that your own work is the absolute worst example of work ever, in the whole history of mankind.
Thankfully, I have some support. First, there’s my wonderful wife, who loves to hear about the stories I’m writing, even if the genre isn’t always something she’s interested. In the case of this particular book I’m writing right now, Mythic America, she’s excited to read it, and so encourages me to just finish the damn thing.
Then, I have my friends on Google Plus, Twitter and Facebook. The other writers out there who’ve been through this, who know where I’m coming from, who can tell me that if I just push on, it’ll get better.
And then I discovered today something else that helps.
My stories are really, really good.
I discovered this by re-reading a few. See, here’s the thing. There’s this saying “fake it ‘till you make it.” So, I was reminded of that when I mentioned to someone that I was feeling like a writing fraud. So, I kept on writing, no matter how much of a struggle it got, or how much I thought what I was writing was shit.
Then, the other day, my wife sent me the link to sign up for Clarion writer’s workshop. So, I said I would fill it out, even though I’m convinced that I’m nowhere near good enough to even get accepted.
Part of the requirements is that I find two stories to submit. So, I’m going back through some of my shorts to find the best two to send in.
I’m reading a couple, some I can’t even remember writing, and I find myself thinking, “Man, this is really good.”
Over and over again. Yes, some of those stories sucked, but there was a surprising number of them that were good.
Stories that I wrote. That I thought were good.
And it’s freeing. It helps to remind me that I’m not a fraud. I really am a good writer. One that’s good enough to get into Clarion. And so now I’m filling out this application for myself, because, damnit, I AM good enough for this workshop. I AM good enough to be published.
I am a damn good writer.
And I’m not going to let anyone, not even myself, tell me otherwise.