For the most part, writing is a solitary activity. I spend a lot of time in my own head and it can be a lonely endeavor.
Most writers, from time to time, suffer from a weird phenomenon called “imposter syndrome”. It’s not just writers, I suspect it can strike anyone in any field. This syndrome is manifested as a crippling self-doubt and an inability to fully celebrate successes because it feels like you lucked out or a mistake was made. Surely, you don’t deserve it. You know, how it would feel to find your middle-school-self in a Trigonometry class when you really should be in the remedial math class, but somehow everyone thinks you are a math prodigy and the whole school is depending on your math skill to save it from disaster. Yeah, something like that.
Like many others, I suffer from this syndrome. Sometimes to the point where I feel like even the grocery lists I write are crap. It’s been a tough few months personally for me and that only serves to exaggerate the feeling.
To make writing the best it can be you must have feedback, which sometimes just serves as fuel for the syndrome. What do they say? Comparison is the killer of joy? I have hooked up with various critique groups over my time as a writer. Some were a good fit depending on what piece I was offering up and others not so much. Horror is not everyone’s cup of poison so to speak. I’ve been fortunate enough to make the acquaintance of some lovely ladies who also write in the genre of horror. To say they have encouraged me and inspired me is the understatement of the year.
When it came time to share a piece of writing with the above mentioned ladies (published, confident, Masters of Fine f’ing Arts degree holders, and professional creators) I panicked. Nothing I could write would be worthy of their time.
I’d poured my guts out to these ladies at one point and they never judged or pulled away, only supported. I felt safe with them, so despite my feelings, I submitted.
One overcast Sunday afternoon, we gathered at my dining room table nibbling on snacks, talking about anything and everything. We all uploaded our pieces so we could start to take a look. I was chatting with one dear lady across the table about ex-husbands and toddlers and gluten-free muffins. I knew the lady next to me was quietly reading my story. My heart was pumping but I tried to play it cool.
She gasped and covered her mouth at the pivitol plot point.
It felt good to know that this rough draft of a story that I didn’t feel excellent with could get that reaction. She smiled at me and gave her approval.
It was then that I knew.
I might feel like and imposter more often than not, but who cares. I’ve got a writer community…no scratch that…a family. A dark, twisted, spooky family of writers where I am accepted no matter what. It’s helping me churn out work and that feels good.
My wish for anyone who reads this, no matter what you do or where you are in life, I hope you have or find a similar family.
I’ve got a short story coming out in an anthology with some well-known authors (take that imposter syndrome) later in October, two novels in the works, and something with my writer family for the future. Not too bad for an imposter.
Until next time, Never Turn Off the Lights!