Impostor Syndrome

Impostor: imˈpästər – A person who pretends to be someone else in order to deceive others, especially for fraudulent gain.

Tricksy, false…


Sometimes I feel like this.  Not when I’ve dragged myself out of bed at 5 in the morning, waiting for the coffee to start working.

I feel it when I think about the good stuff: Like being a guest at Balticon in May–Like being invited to submit a story for a fantastic anthology.

Places where I can be spotted for the fraud that I am.

I never feel this way when I’m two cups of coffee into the day before the sun rises. Never when I’ve got a space heater aimed at me and I’m wearing a jacket (ok, a hoodie) in my writing space because the house hasn’t warmed up from its sleep cycle (please hurry, spring). Never when it’s just me and the work, alone in front of a dark window, while the rest of the house is asleep. Never when it could do the most damage.


Because those are the times that make me a writer. When I’m making the time to roll up the sleeves and get to work–and I’m not talking about the day job that I’m going to have to leave for in three hours. I’m talking about the times when the fires of effort and creation are burning so hot that the bullshit burns away.

That’s how I know it’s insubstantial.

Note that I didn’t say it isn’t real.

It is.

I feel it when I remember that I’ve “only”** got a single published work out there and I’m working on a story that a New York Times Bestselling Author invited me to submit.  I feel it when I consider the possibility that I could be on a panel with–on the same side of the table as–George R. R. Martin or any of the other amazing writers whose books I’ve got sitting on my bookshelf even as I’m typing.

Fake. Fraud. Who the hell let this guy in the door?

This guy that gets up just as early as GRRM or Faith Hunter*** and gets to work. That carves time away from family, and friends, and things he enjoys because The Words are important. This guy, alone in his space, working hard at what he loves, sacrificing–and, even if indirectly, forcing those he cares about to make sacrifices of their own–without knowing if any of it will pan out to where it might help support his family.

This guy.

He’s already paying the price of admission.

You can’t fake doing the work and, if you’re doing the work, you’re not a fake.

** “Only”.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with that.
*** I don’t actually know what time George or Faith wake up.


Time: 10:45-ish

Music: Tarja Turunen – I Walk Alone