During a conversation with a young author earlier this week, I was asked if I still get that “butterflies in the stomach” feeling with each book.
You mean that apprehension and anxiety that happens just after a book’s release as I wait for reviewers and readers to praise or slam it? Yes. I’ll admit to that. I prefer to label it “anxiety” as opposed to “butterflies in the stomach” though.
My young protege also seemed rather surprised when I admitted that, after twenty-five years, over one-hundred published pieces, over 30 of them published books, that there are days I still feel like a fraud. As if I’m pretending to be something I’m not, and at any moment an editor or reader somewhere is going to point at me, eyes glaring, voice full of accusation screaming, “LIAR! You’re not a REAL writer! You’ve been faking it all along!”
Apparently this is such a natural phenomena among published writers that I’ve seen entire workshops dedicated to dealing with “Impostor Syndrome”.
There is a misconception then, among the young and hopefuls, that every book will get easier until writing becomes effortless. That once you’ve succeeded you can never fail again. That seasoned authors have unlimited self-confidence that never falters, and anxiety is something only new authors feel just before a book comes out.
Oh, how I wish any of that were true. If it were, I would not have received a rejection letter from a magazine just last week. Every last one of my novels would be best sellers. I would be further along in Taming Trish and Emily’s story. Inherited Djinn would be finished and in editing. I’d have oodles of self-confidence and I’d never have another anxiety attack.
Writing is a job. Just like any other job, you have to go to your computer every day, sit your ass down in front of it, and put words to paper. You have to revise and edit. You have to market. You have to go through the submission process. You have to do research. You have to READ. Day-in, day-out. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.
Sometimes you sell stuff. Sometimes you get rejected. Sometimes you have a great success. Sometimes a book bombs. Sometimes you feel awesome and invincible, and sometimes you feel like an impostor. Through all of it, you have to pick yourself up, pull yourself down – and ultimately you have to sit your ass back down in the chair and write, because that’s what writers do.