When I’m Down, I Give A Pep Talk

Dame Lili
Dame Lili
Good morning, everyone.

There have been some great posts recently at the Deadline Dames. Tracey O’Hara talked about feeling like an imposter in writer’s clothing, Dame Devon with five easy steps to start a writing career, Dame Jackie on surviving conventions, and Dame Rachel on research.

I feel like there’s not much for me to talk about today, especially as I’m still scrambling to catch up from last week’s Mini Tour Madness (part I recap is here) and dealing with a couple of other personal things, including a crisis of confidence. It’s kind of like what Tracey talked about earlier this week–the feeling that one is an imposter as a writer. That there is going to be a grand unmasking and someone will yell “You really suck!” and rotten vegetables will be thrown and then the sun will go out and everyone will starve to death and it’s all my fault.

I go through this every time I write a book, more or less. Especially when I write under deadline. I know it’s irrational. Believe me, I know. But it doesn’t help when I’m struggling with the first third of a book that just won’t cooperate, before the click happens and everything falls into place. The things I thought I was just doing blindly turn out to be fortuitous, little Easter eggs from the Muse. I’m taught once again that I have to trust in the work.

It isn’t easy. You’d think after over thirty novels written and 20 or so published, I would have gotten this down. You’d think it would get easier, and that I would get to the point where feeling like an imposter is either inapplicable or doesn’t bother me.

It hasn’t yet. Sure, it’s grown incrementally easier to deal with. But I still struggle with this feeling over and over again. Part of it is my upbringing and psychological makeup–I was never “good enough” as a child or young adult, and the flip side of the resultant fierce perfectionism is the idea that one is unnaturally imperfectible and thus has to work twice as hard, twice as long. It’s a vicious cycle, because nothing is ever good enough. Sometimes I’m okay at letting that be a spur to work as hard as I can. Other times the sharp edge turns against me.

And that bastard cuts deep.

Often in my Friday writing posts I give my honest advice, which means I also have to admit when I’m struggling, or I end up in the “do as I say, not as I do” contingent. Which I hate. I love this job, I think I’m pretty okay at it most days, but there are also those days with thorns and knives. Today is one of them, and though I know I’ve dealt with this at least 30 times before, the feelings are still raw and intense. It only helps a little to remind myself that this, too, shall pass.

But a little help is better than none. At least, so it seems to me. So if you’re struggling today too, let me hand you some chocolate and a hankie, or a beer and a coaster, or whatever will help. Let me grab your hand and tell you not to give up, that it will get better if we keep slogging through and trusting the work. That as long as we’re doing the best we can, we’re not imposters, even if we feel like it. That someone else goes through this every day, and we’re not alone.

I won’t let go. You keep hanging on too, and we’ll get through somehow.

Then we’ll go kick some ass.

Over and out.