Even Google doesn’t know. Impostor appears to have the edge & to be honest, those word birds change their minds at the drop of a feather. Either way, we writers are familiar with the syndrome.
Yesterday I had a conversation with talented artist, Mags Phelan Stones. (She’s a wise woman too & knows a thing or two about a thing or two.)
© Mags Phelan Stones
We found ourselves in agreement. In spite of our achievements, we still sense the impostor within: the ‘other’ woman waiting to pounce, tell us it’s all been a cruel joke. Mags said, I keep expecting to have my collar felt, and be told to clear off for being an imposter.
I knew exactly what she meant. After my first book was published it took a long time for me to let go of the notion that the ‘other’ woman was lurking; about to demand her life back. She’s like a ghost version of me – only more talented & with a better sense of her own worth.
(And it’s a great metaphor frankly, what with me & my penchant for ghosts & so forth.)
A dear writer friend & I often remark to one another how gibbering, for an author, is de rigueur. Throughout the entire process, from drafting, editing, submitting, more editing (the scary structural kind) & finalising a book, there is no peace! We are rendered blitheringly idiotic by doubt. I’ve yet to meet a writer who doesn’t experience this, to a greater or lesser degree, even after she’s published. And I have no real idea why it should be so.
I try not to wear my heart on my sleeve (needy is a terrible look) but my work means everything to me & I like it when people tell me I can write. I’m a realist though – I know my limitations. I have no pretensions toward making literary history. I write my stories from a fiercely passionate love/need & an everyday quiet urge to sit down & do it. I’ve published two books & had some amazing responses to them, not least from several writers whose work I admire & whose endorsements still amaze me. (I’ve also had a couple of stupendously cringe-making one-star reviews, so that’s me told.) My third book, Wild Spinning Girls, is scheduled to be published in February next year. And with a fourth in draft – I’m not doing too a bad job.
And still I sense her – that bloody ‘ghost woman’…
Is a lack of self belief false modesty? A conceit to make myself appear humble? As I’ve never aspired to humility, I refuse that label. But I do think I need to aim for something a bit more gracious. Get over myself. Stop gibbering & get a grip.
It’s April Fool’s day tomorrow.