It is a month -1 day until my novel Dog Days is published by Dreamspinner (you can pre-order now if you want!), and basically my brain is just a whirlpool of excitement and nerves.
What if no one likes it? What if everyone likes it? What if I have used up all the words I’ve ever had and that’s it now? What if the Awen abandons me because I’ve not round to having the third ring tattooed on my hip? What if everyone realises I’m not actually a creative adult, I’m still a giggling 14 year old in love with wording things?
It’s a Gordian Knot of self-doubt and arrogance, and completely helpful to actually getting anything done. So I just gotta fake it till I make it.
Of course, I’m not actually faking it. Dog Days is good. I really enjoyed writing it, and I got genuinely excited building my mythology and world. Other people have read it and enjoyed it, including editors at Dreamspinner who have absolutely no reason to lie to me about it being good when it’s not. No one is going to suddenly go ‘Hold on, we were meant to be publishing Dad Days, what the heck is this?’.
(I genuinely once spent a whole Christmas alternately buying presents for people because I had just been offered a job, then wallowing in festering terror that I was spending all my money and I’d turn up January 2nd and they’d reveal they wanted to hire Tom Moore.)
It’s Imposter Syndrome, of course. The syndrome so widespread it is more like the human condition. We go through life confused by the fact that we never woke up and discovered we’d ‘levelled up’ into an adult, unlocking all the skills that you need to adult like taxes and not putting heat on an abscess. We also go through life worried that we are the only ones who feel like this, that everyone else crawled out of their pupae in their final boss adult form.
We aren’t! Unless it is just me, in which case, seriously – someone probably should step in.
In my case, it’s complicated by the fact I come from a family of paranoid hypochondriacs (well, we did have a lot of genetic ailments, so frequently the hypochondria had a basis, but my gran still never saw a mole that wasn’t cancer of that extremity) and an environment where, when I was little, it was actually quite reasonable to work out an escape plan in case you get separated in a bomb attack.
Basically, I have Imposter Syndrome, a good imagination, and a lot of practice with disastrous thinking. I don’t just worry that I’m not really qualified for this while writing gig, I work out all the various lines of failure I could pursue to the bitter, frequently bloody end. Even success, in my head, only leads to more failure. Failure, seasoned with the disappoint of people who expected more from me.
A lot of these scenarios end with me sleeping in a cardboard box and drinking paint thinner with the town drunks. It’s a distressing end to come to, since I don’t really like the taste of alcohol.*
The thing is that there’s no cure for Imposter Syndrome, you really do just have to fake it. Send your book out despite the fear that people won’t like. Talk to people on social media despite the worry you’re boring them all. Listen to that tiny little voice in the back of your brain that mutters, “Actually, I do think it’s quite good.”
Because it is! Dog Days is a good book, and I think most people that read it will like it. I won’t run out of words (touch wood), and I’m actually an intelligent, relatively rational person who will get the third ring tattooed on my hip one of these days.
Faking it isn’t so bad, and what I’ve made is pretty awesome. I think so anyhow…most of the time!
*Thank my gran for that one. Also, yes, my small town had a family of town drunks instead of just the one.