I thought I was done feeling like an impostor; 13 years into my job as engineer, I do not doubt my engineering skills anymore. I doubt the place that I work, but I do not doubt that I've got something to offer as an engineer. For the first 5 years of my (engineering) job, I doubted my engineering capability. Being sick and discovering I had RA, made those feelings of impostor and fraud linger a little longer than I felt they should have. But as soon as my health issue was figured out, and I got project experience under my belt, I no longer felt like a phony. Every couple of years, I'll acknowledge that there are engineers who are smarter than me (on my team), but I am not a dummy; I know the work and how to do the work. I can do it in my sleep now (ugh, sometimes I dream about analyzing completing systems reliability tickets). So I have said good-bye impostor syndrome.
Or so I thought. Two years ago, I decided I would write a blog. And then I decided I would write and publish a children's book. I've done just that-- I published a children's book. I have also published pieces with Highlights and STEM Media and guest blogged for Tech Love. Technically, I am a published author. But I don't feel like one. I feel like I am another silly, stupid, and annoying person who thinks she can write in the same school (not class) as great, amazing, best selling, and world-renowned authors. But I'm not one of them. I am not in the same class as them.
I'm pretty sure I don't belong in the writing and publishing industry. After all, I'm just an engineer-- what right do I have asking to be in the writing and publishing industry? I have no degree in writing, my only formal (college level or higher) writing classes were English 101 and 102, and technical writing does not equate to creative writing. I haven't toiled for decades in perfecting my craft to finally land a book deal. How can I, after just a couple of years of playing around and pretending to be a writer, expect to get an agent/book deal/traditionally published book? I am naive and stupid in thinking that. I don't belong here. I am an impostor in the book/writing/publishing industry. And I feel like such a failure. A big, fat failure.
It doesn't matter that people have bought my indie published children's book. It doesn't matter that friends and family share with me that they book the book and how much they like the book. It doesn't matter that I get photos of smiling kids reading my book. It doesn't matter when bloggers and book critics write positive things about the book. It doesn't matter that the book got featured on podcasts. It doesn't matter that my book has received a couple of awards. I still feel like a failure. I feel it's time to hang up my author hat, pat myself on the back, and tell myself, you tried, but now it's time to move on. Time to stop fooling yourself and others; time to acknowledge that you are an impostor.
This irrational feeling of failure and impostor, well, I know it's irrational. I never expected to make the New York Times Best Seller list, and my selling expectation was in the low hundreds (which close at 85 sells so far). I also know it takes a long, long time to find an agent and get a book published traditionally, and I knew indie publishing my book wouldn't bring agents and publishers knocking on my door. I just knew that I loved the story and had the means to share it. All I could hope for is that others would it love too. And when the rational voice in my head is speaking, I know that my hope, of others loving the story, is true.
All the stuff I said above that doesn't matter, well, rational voice knows that it does matter. People liking/loving the book, the awards, and the best part, photos of happy kids reading my book, that all matters. I'm so appreciative of all that; those things are huge and wonderful accomplishments. When I let the rational voice talk, and remind me of those huge and wonderful accomplishments, I don't feel like a loser, a failure, an impostor. If I truly look at it, I've accomplished some pretty cool things in the writing world. And I have so many other stories I want to share. No way am I done yet with this industry. I'm here to stay.
I just have to keep working at this writing thing and to tell the irrational impostor voice to shut the shark up! Impostor voice, where you see failure, I will embrace the mistakes and see a chance to learn and grow. Where you say I've accomplished nothing, I see many kids enjoying the book and great reviews. Where you say, it's time to quit, I remind you that writing is fun and that you have another story to write. Where you sing Beck's "I'm a loser baby so why don't you kill me", I change the lyrics to "one day I'll kill it".
One day (hopefully sooner rather than later), I will kill it in the book world, and stop doubting my capability as a writer, and my impostor syndrome will subside again. Until then, hello impostor, I see you've failed (in making me completely doubt myself). So shut the shark up already! I have writing to do!
Need more info on the impostor syndrome, check out this: