Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Insecure Writers: Fraudulant

It’s time to purge our hearts of all our worries and anxieties. Be sure to join Alex and hop around to other blogs.

So, I’ve pretty much stripped bare already, so it seems like there shouldn’t be anything left for me to worry about. 

Yeah, right. 

See, in my brain there is this little person. For the record, this little person isn’t small of stature, just small of everything else: honor, logic, wellbeing, pretty much everything. This little person sits around and dreams up more stuff for me to be worried about, and no matter how hard I try, I always manage to keep him in a job. *Shakes fist at little voice.*

It is ridiculous that I worry, but it is especially ridiculous that I worry that I might be a fraud. Yeah, I might be a complete faker who can barely keep my life together, how can I possibly be a writer? How can anything I say or write possible be of any use to anyone? I can’t get to the grocery store on a regular basis, how can my mere words be meaningful? I can’t manage to get my WIP off the ground, why should anyone care what I have to say?

And worse, right now, I don’t even have a functional manuscript. Want to feel like a real loser? Go check out a bunch of agent judged contests where the rules are “For a finished manuscript only” and not have a manuscript finished. It makes me feel like a fake, a fraud, a hanger on in an awesome community--undeserving--because I don’t have a manuscript. I haven't put the time into my writing. I've been doing all these other things, important sure, but still not writing. But I am a real writer! I know I’ve finished six novels and I have nothing to show for any of them, but really, really soon, I’ll have a seventh. And all those other novels were just crap anyway, this one is THE ONE, so hold on there contest, I’ll be a real writer with a real manuscript in just a few months.

Then the realization sinks in. No, I won’t have a real manuscript in just a couple months. I’ll have a first draft. I’m looking at half a year to a full year before I have a “finished” manuscript. That’s forever in writer years. I know what the problem is, it’s easy to spot if I could just step back and look.

That voice. That evil little voice in my head dreaming up things for me to worry about. Like will my book be relevant in a year? In three years? Even if it does get published (practically the lottery at this point), will anyone read it? Like it? Is all of this just a pipedream anyway? Have I spent months ruining my life in my—thus far failed!—attempt to become a ‘real writer’?

Somewhere that little voice is telling me that not having a “finished manuscript” makes me a second class citizen, and worse, I used to be a member of the elite, a querying goddess of awesome. And then it all went away. I decided to make a change, and I had to yank my manuscript from what can only be called a tepid reception.

I wrote another book, but that wasn’t the stuff either.

And now I have a monstrosity of a WIP. I love it. My alpha readers like it, but they don’t love it. Even my Mom doesn’t love it (though she is always truthful and wouldn’t just blow sunshine up my ego). I guess it means more to me than them. So here I am, all my hopes in this one MS, and I can already see that I probably love it too much to do the editing and revisions on it I’ll need to make it awesome. This is why I feel like a fraud. I’m such a fraud I can’t even see that my broken WIP is only ever going to be loved by me.

Stupid little voice, how do I get you to leave me alone?

I’m a real writer. The only person who can say if I’m a real writer is me, so go away stupid voice. You don’t know me. You don’t know the stuff I’m made of. All the other weaklings quit. All the fakes and the frauds have already quit, and I’m still here. I don’t need you, stupid little voice, now go away.


T. Z. Wallace said...

The fact that you feel this way confirms to me that you are, in fact, a "real writer." I feel like a fraud about 98% of the time. I, too, have no completed manuscript (although I hope to in the next few months...fingers and toes and everything else crossed). The voice lingers. It does, I won't lie. Even once you are published it will linger (What if it was a fluke?, it will ask.)

Keep at it. Kick the voice in the...larynx...and keep writing. Obviously, we care what you have to say...your words have meaning to us.

We are rooting for you, hoping for you, waiting eagerly for you to finish.

If I could destroy the nasty little voice for you, I would. But I have a theory that when the hateful little voice is gone, our words disappear as well.

Keep writing. We are here. I promise. Because we know you are NOT a fraud...even if you are not so sure, yet...we know the truth.

Kyra Lennon said...

Looking at what T.Z. Wallace said is exactly what someone said to me - it might have even been you, but I could be wrong! The tortured feeling, the little voice - they are the things that tell me you are a "real writer."

Stick with it, you will have that complete manuscript.

Annalisa Crawford said...

That little voice will be eating his words when you do have your WIP finished and polished and submitted. Until then, get him to stand in a corner with his hands on his head... oh wait... is that kids?

Avery Marsh said...

Writers write, so as long as you keep writing, you can't possibly be a fraud. A fraud is a celebrity who hires a ghost writer or someone who steals someone else's words and takes all the credit.

You're a real writer putting in the work and one day it'll pay off.

Besides, that little voice isn't all bad. It keeps us grounded, humble, and prevents us from making complete asses out of ourselves by thinking we're above going through all the pain and suffering that everyone else experiences in getting a book from idea to the bestseller's list. The trick is keeping the nagging voice in check by making sure that the voice that tells you to stick with it is louder.

So, keep trudging along. Keep working on that WIP until you move some of those likes into the love column. And whether it really is broken or it gets published, keep writing, because that's what a real writer does.

Nancy said...

It has a name Impostor Syndrome, I hate it whenever it comes calling. Love the blowing sunshine remark.

Sarah Pearson said...

I have a whole bunch of first drafts with nothing to show for them. Am I a writer? Yes. Am I a real writer? Hell, yes. And so are you. That little dude in your head is just a jobsworth, trying to justify his existence.

Rena said...

Thank you. I swear I'm better adjusted than I sound on IWSG, but that damned little voice. Who made it so loud?

Rena said...

I think I'm mostly suffering from lack of patience syndrome (not to be confused with lack of patients... one of my favorite typos ever).

So as soon as I have my manuscript up and running I think things could go much better.

Rena said...

Yes, that little voice will, and I love that you compare your kids punishments to the punishment of the little voice. I wonder if I can ground it...

Rena said...

Thanks Avery,

I admit that I am too dumb to know when to give up, so I know I'll keep writing. I just want to write something great. Patience is the key for me. I have to learn to do things like make grammar make sense. Then tell the story... Well, you know, write.

Rena said...

It's my Mom, she's not like other moms. Other moms tell their children that they love everything. My mother only has honesty. It's helpful, but sometimes it hurts (because she will tell you when you've written something in the not so great category).

Rena said...

You know, I regretted that phrase about having first drafts with nothing to show almost the moment I wrote it. It's not that I have nothing to show for it. Clearly my writing has changed, so there's that. But more than that, I have experience. I just want that manuscript that has all the hope in it again. I loved that. And that's what I'm working for again.

Carrie Bastyr said...

Awesome post Rena! I think I need to blow up your last paragraph and put it on the wall by my computer :)

The Golden Eagle said...

You show that voice! You're definitely a real writer, no matter what it says.