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.
Carol Lovekin said:
Ah, Jan, you’re so kind. Thank you so much. I’m getting better. ; )
And I know it isn’t only me. These moments of uncertainty are real & part of me thinks I need my ‘ghost woman’ to keep me on my toes. That every writer needs some version of her.
But yes, I’ll try my best! xXx
Jan Baynham said:
As a huge fan of your writing, eagerly awaiting publication of ‘Wild Spinning Girls’, I cannot imagine why you should lack self belief. Pride in what you have achieved and the pleasure you have given readers like me should be enough to give the ‘bloody ghost woman’ the elbow! You will, won’t you?