Fear, Comparison, and Impostor Syndrome
Today is a great day. The sun is out, the air is warming up (80 degrees, y'all!), and I have officially turned in my latest manuscript to my agent. I feel like I've crawled out of a cave and am seeing the sun for the first time in MONTHS!
I finished this manuscript sometime in September 2017, and since then, I have been editing it to death. I am a bit obsessive compulsive. Well, not just a bit--a lot of a bit. And letting go of my work to let someone else read it is tremendously difficult.
But, I've done it. It's out there. And now I'm shaking in my boots--or, more accurately, sneakers--waiting to hear if it's worth selling.
You see, even though I've published before, fear still rides on my shoulders like an annoying companion I just can't shake. I get nervous that I'm not good enough. That my writing is poor. That my plotting is weak. That no one is going to like it, and my favorite, that people are finally going to figure out I have no idea what I'm doing. Did you know that feeling has a name? It's called Impostor Syndrome. Look it up.
I follow fellow authors on social platforms and see some churning out book after book--publishing two or more a year--and I think, wow! That's amazing! Why can't I do that? I should be able to do that. I am obviously not working hard enough, or I am not creative enough, or I am not devoted enough.
Can you tell I'm hard on myself?
Sometimes, I have to sit back and remind myself that I hit my word count goals every day. I work non-stop during the hours that my kids aren't home. And I am constantly reading to improve my own writing.
The difference, I think, is that my creative process is slow. I need time to let the ideas form, marinate, and rise before I am able to get them out of my head and onto my paper. I like to write and re-write. And sometimes I need extra time to figure out how to say what I want to mean.
I've had this issue all of my life, in every avenue of my work. When I was dancing, the fears were the same except sub writing and the like for dancing/turning/teaching/turn-out/choreography. This is not a new feeling for me, but I am learning.
I am learning that my approach is okay. That producing something I love is better than throwing something out there I'm not entirely proud of. That I should not compare myself to others, because in the history of life, that has never been a good idea.
But you know what is a good idea? Doing the things you are most afraid of. Never have I ever leapt off that metaphorical bridge and thought, man, am I glad I never tried that. I am always glad I pushed myself. If I hadn't, DRIFT would have never been written, and my latest novel, THE HAUNTING OF RED BLOOD HILL, certainly wouldn't have made it to it's final stages.
So, now I'm staring down the barrel of a blank Word Document and the beginning stages of writing my next (my third!!) novel. Fear is pulling at my spine telling me to be wary--telling me to stop because it's scary--but I will not listen. And with any luck, I'll have a first draft finished in the next 4-5 months.
Are you doing anything that scares you? What is it??