IMHO, sometimes what some folks call impostor syndrome isn’t, actually. Take mine, for example.
Some days I am unshakably certain that those in my field with more financial success/traditional publication credits privately think my writing is irredeemably dull & crude and that I am an unprofessional hack.
Besides that, they only refrain from outright mockery & dismissal because they
- a) like me as a person & don’t want to hurt my feelings
- b) are polite to everyone in social settings
- c) have past trauma from criticism nearly crushing their dreams
- d) are leery of snubbing anyone because public opinion lightning can strike any hack & a create award-winning/ bestseller…who might carry a grudge.
But is that impostor syndrome? IMHO, no.
My writing is perfectly damned fine, thank you very much. Are my books perfect? <cue peals of laughter?> Oh, hell, no. I have plenty or room for improvement, both within individual stories, and in storycrafting generally.
But I don’t feel like a fraud, or fear being found out & exposed as a poser. I don’t feel like an imposter.
Not about my writing, anyhow. Not once I got that tenth or twentieth positive review from a total stranger. And once I leaped the qualification threshold into the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers Association, the impostor doubts were vanquished. I’m a SFWA member and that’s something no one can dispute.
Unless they want to, that is. Therein lies the rub.
IMHO self doubt is sneakier than anything else.
There needs to be a different phrase for persistently sensing that I am tolerated rather than welcomed. I don’t feel like a fraud. I feel like a turkey tiptoing through a flock of unwelcoming geese.
Part of it is my own fault. I disagree w/many of the SFF publishing industry’s accepted norms & traditions (Looming large among them is the 8 long years it took SFWA to loosen its clutches on the “publish two short stories in a mag on our approved list, or get a book deal with one of only 4 publishing houses in the US, or GTFO” membership model…
…but I digress. This post is not intended as a laundry list of all my curmudgeonly publishing views, thoughtfully gather over 18 years in boo publishi & now 10 as an indi auth. (If at least 10 people comment asking for those, I promise they’ll get their own post.)
No, today’s post is a grumble about the reality that my opinions on the <waves vaguely> indie author life leave me vulnerable to a lot of bad, old-fashioned self-doubt.
I am contrarian, not unskilled or ignorant, but that stance still sets me up for exhausting match with doubt weasels every time I am in a professional setting with peers–ESPECIALLY meetups with traditionally published peers.
This “Other writers (writers I respect, people I want to learn from & associate with) privately think I’m talentless and should GTFO” brain weasel family also randomly gets out of its cage at various intervals between such meetups, any time I contemplate attending such meetups, and hey, sometimes when the moon is full or the wind is from the north-northwest. Like, oh, today.
Note: this is not a plea for reassurance.
When I get into this mode, I get really, REALLY good at twisting attempts at affirmation into proof of their opposite. IMHO means I’m doing me, not asking for help.
The only strategy that works for me is writing my way through it. Like this, & also in my stories. But mostly like this, by posting my opinion in my spaces.
Here’s more of my writing, in case you’re interested: