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Living With Imposter Syndrome–Guest Post Live on Fictionvale!

Posted by on Nov 24, 2014 in Blog Posts, Editing, Uncategorized, Work and Career, Writing, Writing Advice | 0 comments

The first mercy of impostor syndrome, in my experience at least, is that it isn’t constant. Instead it attacks at intervals, at moments of either my deepest despair or highest success.
Of course success attracts this psychological beastie’s attention: in the grips of impostor syndrome, my jerky brain is happy to dismiss any achievement as a fluke or a fraud. I’ve either tricked people into thinking I can write, or they’ve reviewed my manuscript favorably from pity for someone so pathetically incompetent. “Despite external evidence of…competence,” Wikipedia explains, I have been “unable to internalize [my] accomplishments.” Sure, I’ve managed to pass myself off as a writer—somehow—so far—but sooner or later, I know my luck will run out. I’m just one bad review away from dying of exposure.
You might think almost a hundred short fiction publications would serve as some reassurance that I’m either not a fraud, or I’m so successful at defrauding dozens of intelligent fiction editors that this con might as well be my calling. And sooner or later, I do decide that I might have something going for me after all. If not talent, still more elbow grease than sheer luck.
The problem is that nothing will ever make me officially, unquestionably a writer. There’s no shiny medal handed down by an omniscient judge. I majored in philosophy, not fiction, and I know enough MFAs who continue struggling with writer’s block to prove that’s no silver bullet, either. Nor is getting published—no short story, chapbook, or novel can scratch my deep-seated itch of inadequacy. Even if this work goes off well enough, what about my next story?
One thing’s for sure, when I’m in the grips of impostor syndrome I don’t dare slack on that next story. And here’s its second mercy: worrying that your ‘fraud’ will be discovered may inspire you to be a better writer.

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