Thursday, April 14, 2016


I'm a writer.
Except that I'm not?

I have this internal debate literally every day. I never really find an answer.

I've been writing since I was a teenager. Probably longer, if we count the silly little stories I wrote with glitter pens in elementary school. I made my first attempt to write a novel when I was 13, and I've never really stopped writing since.

At this point, writing has been part of who I am--part of what I do--for more than half of my life.

So why am I still so hesitant to claim the title of writer?

I'm pretty sure that there's nothing new or unique about this experience, this craving for legitimacy. Waiting to be able to call yourself a "real" writer.

There's no real agreement about at what point a person is a "real" writer. It's when a person receives recognition for their writing. It's when a person gets their work published. It's when a person starts earning money from their work. It's when a person starts devoting regular time to their work. It's when a person decides to be a writer. It's when other people decide that a person is a writer.

Writing is part of my identity. I couldn't stop writing any more than I could stop breathing.

But am I a writer?

I have a hard time giving myself this label. I had a hard time starting this blog. I have a story that's been accepted by a small publisher, but I don't have anything out right now. I don't have an agent. I've never been paid for my writing. The only contest I won was a school poetry contest when I was in 9th grade. What right do I have to start an author's blog? To talk about the process of writing at all?

I got the idea to start this blog almost two years ago. I snapped up the URL and the related email address and sat down to tell the world (or at least a small corner of the internet) all about what writing is. What it means to me.

And then my imposter syndrome set in.

Imposter syndrome is that phenomenon where you feel like practically everyone knows more about what you're doing than you do. It's in no way unique to writing (I could use the term to define my entire experience with graduate school, for instance).  It's when you look around you and are struck with the impression that everyone else knows what they're doing so much better than you do. Imposter syndrome leaves you asking the question "Do I even deserve to be here?"

This is a silencing question. Maybe I read something and think it's terrible--but what right do I have to say anything? I'm not a real writer. Maybe another writer asks for thoughts on their work--but they can't be asking me, because I'm not a real writer.

I don't feel like I have a legitimate seat at the table, so I don't feel comfortable talking to the other guests at the party.

But here's the thing that I've discovered: literally everyone feels this way.

Watch any interview with any creative person--actors, authors, artists--and there will be some point where they say something to the effect of  "I can't really believe that I'm here." People will point to luck or kismet as the reason that they've achieved to the degree that they have. They will talk about the people that they think are more talented than they are.

One thing that I've discovered as I have gotten older is that no one really knows what they're doing. No one really has it together. No one really goes through every day with absolute confidence. We fake it.

All of us are huge fakers.

There's no cure for imposter syndrome. Anyone with a certain level of self-awareness is going to have their moments of crushing self-doubt. We don't actually have the confidence--so we fake it.

Writing is part of my identity. I couldn't stop writing any more than I could stop breathing.

I'm trying to leave behind the question of my legitimacy as a writer.

Maybe whether I am a "real" writer or not doesn't matter, so long as I fake it.

And if I'm going to fake it, I might as well fake all of it.

Welcome to my author's blog.

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