Why do we doubt ourselves?

I wonder why Imposter syndrome1 is more prevalent in women and minorities than in others? And I think more prevalent in writers as we put our heart on our sleeve and expose our creations to the world and all we expect is criticism.

What is it about us that drives us to think we are not good enough, that we shouldn’t try to achieve such high goals, that someone else is always better than us, prettier than us, more qualified than us. The list could go on and on.

I’m no expert on mental health, as my daughter will be the first to tell you, and here you go, I am going to say it! There are far more qualified folks out there who can advise better than me. But I was thinking about the fact that by the end of this year, I will have published five books in my Sentinal series. FIVE!!!

If that isn’t something to celebrate then what is? Yes the reviews are slow to come in. The sales are not exactly stellar, my Amazon rating is six digits and counting! but I loved every minute of writing them, of editing them, of polishing them as beta readers gave me wonderful feedback along with areas to improve. The covers are beautiful and just resonate with the epic fantasy genre. And I AM PROUD of them. I deserve to call myself an author. A published author at that.

So why do I feel awkward when I call myself an author? as if I am a fraud. I have the proof. The physical books to show I wrote them. How should you measure success? Do you have to hit a certain revenue number, number of books sold, amazon rating, to be a success? Why can’t we accept that writing a book, finishing it, and then publishing it, is a success? Because it really is.

I am about to send the third book of my Sentinal series, Sentinals Justice off to the copy editor and then start biting my nails as I wait for feedback. The cover designer will begin the cover art in a couple of weeks and I am on course to publish in September. I’ve even got some character art for my main characters, Jerrol and Birlerion. I wonder if they are even close to what my readers imagined? Jerrol is above. Isn’t it cool?

So yes, my books have a long way to go before I break even. Profit? Is that a word associated with self-publishing? I have hope. One day. In the meantime, I’m going to keep writing. Why? Because I enjoy it. Because I am an author and I’m good at it.

As Megan Dalla Carmina says in her blog post for PsychologyToday.com, “At the end of the day, remember this: You are here for a reason. In this job, your business, your life, you are worthy. You are better than you think you are. You are smarter than you think you are. You know more than you give yourself credit for. Remember that. And remind yourself as often as you need to.”

Notes:

  1. ‘The Reality of Imposter syndrome.’ Megan Dalla Camina, 2018. PsychologyToday.com https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/real-women/201809/the-reality-imposter-syndrome

Do you talk to yourself?

There is one thing I’ve noticed as the lockdown progresses, is that I talk to myself a lot. I am worried I’ll forget once I am back out socializing, and I’ll still find myself saying things meant for inside my head, out loud in public. Can you imagine it? People will be staring at me as if I am crazy!

Well, hopefully not, as I am sure I am not the only one.

It isn’t just because I live alone, and have no one except my cat to talk too. It’s because I talk to my characters as I am writing them. I immerse myself in my world of Remargaren and see it through their eyes. Hopefully, so that I capture it for my readers to experience as well.

But that does mean that I get caught up in conversations, some of which make it into the book and some of which don’t. My characters have been invented by me; I created their backstory, their likes and dislikes, their foibles, and habits, their thoughts and beliefs. Some I know better than others, and others force their way to the front demanding to be fleshed out more, to play a part, to have a voice.

Characters are an important element of a great story. A reader wants to be invested in their story, to be drawn in to their world, to understand why they react the way they do. It is the authors job to give the reader enough information to draw conclusions, infer emotion, too anticipate. A well rounded character resonates; it’s part of what give us that book hang over when we finish. That sense of losing a friend, of misplacing something, because you won’t be able pick up where you left off.

Fortunately, you can always revisit when you want you, that is the joy of re-reading a book and returning to visit old acquaintances, and often learning something new as you glean something you missed the first time you read it.

Then a new characters raises their hand! And says “What about me?” And I take a closer look, and realize that they don’t fit in the world of Remargaren. They have their own world waiting to be described; to be created, for me to put pen to paper and bring it to life.

A smile rises in me at the thought of meeting someone new; to explore who they are, what they have to say. To discover what they have suffered, or are yet to suffer, and who they will become.

I was listening to an Olly Murs album as I edited my third Sentinal novel, and the lyrics from one of his songs just resonated with me. A young woman raised her hand, stared me in the eye, and she said “I have a story for you to tell.” And she does. I have two new protagonists and a whole new world to think about. A whole new conversation to enjoy.

So If you hear me chattering away to myself, don’t dismiss me. I am in the throes of composition, meeting new characters and making new friends.

I hope you come and visit, enjoy the company and return often.