There are a lot of hard things about being an unpublished writer.
Querying. Rejections. Waiting. Oh, and actually writing is pretty hard too.
But I’m finding more and more that one of the biggest struggles I have is the imposter syndrome. You know, that feeling that you’re putting all this work into something that no one will ever read. That you’re not good enough, you’ll never be good enough, and really where do you get off thinking you can do this? Just who do you think you are?
This is an internal battle I have every. single. day. When I get another rejection. When I don’t hear anything at all. When my current WIP is calling me but I wonder what the point is because no one seems to care what I have to say anyway. It’s a real struggle.
But I’m starting to realize there’s a whole other side to this imposter syndrome. And it comes from the outside.
My husband was recently promoted a new role inside his squadron, one where he now gets to wear that big fancy “leadership” hat. And please don’t get me wrong: I am over the moon for him. He has worked tirelessly for this promotion. He deserves this promotion. But, with this new leadership hat upon his head comes something I never expected: the role of a leadership wife.
I am suddenly expected to be a part of the squadron, attending socials and making casseroles and offering advice to military newbies. Because, from the outside world, it looks like I’m just a stay-at-home mom. I mean, what else could I possibly do with my time besides cook baby meals and play in bunco tournaments and volunteer to clean the squadron on Saturday?
Now, okay, disclaimer: I’m not saying that stuff isn’t important. Military life is hard, and I do believe in building a strong sense of community for our families, especially since almost all of us are hundreds if not thousands of miles away from our real families. What bothers me is this assumption that I’m just a stay-at-home mom and therefore have all the time in the world to devote to these causes.
How am I supposed to explain that I’m not just a stay-at-home mom? I’m a writer, and I devote very large chunks of my day to pursuing my career. Hours each week are spent writing, querying, networking…and yet, I have no published works to show for my efforts.
To the outside world, I look like an imposter.
Writers, I don’t have an easy solution to this problem. I wish could say “Ignore it. You know what you’re doing. Who cares what everyone else thinks?” But I live in the real world. And ignoring what everyone else thinks is not that easy.
But what I can say is to guard your craft with your life. Protect your writing time. Do not let anyone or anything take away the time you’ve set aside to pursue your dreams. You are doing something scary, something brave, and something that not everyone will understand, respect, or appreciate. But you are doing it. And you might not have anything to show for those days, weeks, months, years you’ve spent pouring into your passion. But carry on anyway, believing someday you will.
Because that imposter feeling, as dark and twisted and ugly as it is, means you’re doing something right. You are writing. And no one–inside or out–can take that way from you.