|I’ve recorded about forty episodes of my conversation series Making It Up, and I find it fascinating how different each writer is. Rarely do any two of my interviewees share the exact same writing habits and routines, roads to publication, or approaches to style. Yet most of them have admitted to suffering from the exact same malady known all too well in the publication industry: IMPOSTOR SYNDROME.|
This is a sneaky little bug that sits in a writer’s bloodstream from the day they type their first word. There it languishes, waiting for the moment to present itself. After the writer endures years of struggle, rejection, and blinding self-doubt, finally that very special moment arrives: publication day for the author’s very first book. The launch event is hosted by a lovely local indie bookstore, and there the author regales the audience with stories about how the book came to be, does a reading, answers some questions, and signs some books (signs books!). At the end of the event as the crowd files out, the author takes a moment to soak it all in. I wrote a book, they think. And someone published that book. And I have a copy of it, here, in my hand, right now. Holy hell, this is amazing! Then one last person comes up to the author, sticks out their hand, and offers sincere congratulations for such an amazing achievement.
THIS is when it happens.
The bug that had been dormant for so long suddenly activates and races straight into the author’s ventromedial prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain housing confidence. Then it just eats the shit out of everything in sight.
This is all a mistake, the author thinks, not even knowing why. The publisher didn’t mean to buy my book. Have they even read it? It’s terrible. I don’t know what I’m doing. I have no business being here. Jesus, I have to get those books back from everyone—they can’t be allowed to read them!
Then comes paydirt. The bug’s endgame is to get the author to think these five specific words:
I’m not even a writer.
Why? Why do we all think this? I don’t know the answer, but I will tell you Impostor Syndrome is quite real. If you meet a writer at a cocktail party and they actually tell you they’re a writer, that means either they 1) have at least five published novels, 2) support themselves writing full time, or 3) slowly began dying inside the moment they uttered those words.
I didn’t start calling myself a writer out loud until the release of my third book, and only then because it hit a bestseller list. I probably didn’t feel comfortable saying it until my fifth book. And now, with number eight on the way, it’s rare I tell someone I’m a writer without mentioning I have another job as well.
Perhaps it’s because there are (usually) so many years of rejection preceding any publication that the writer’s confidence remains trampled into the ground. Or maybe it’s because writing is FUN and we can’t believe we can actually make money doing it. Whatever the reason, I guarantee you any writer you meet has suffered or continues to suffer from Impostor Syndrome. Including me. And the only way to get past it is through it.
OK, here goes. Ahem. <clears throat>
I AM A WRITER.
<immediately pulls covers over head>
|Making It Up|
Newly added episodes of my interview series Making It Up are out! This month I chatted with New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, and #1 Amazon bestselling author Robert Dugoni (The World Played Chess), USA Today bestselling romance writer Farrah Rochon (The Boyfriend Project), critically acclaimed novelist and graphic artist Alverne Ball (Blue Religion), and columnist and co-founder of Defector.com Drew Magary (The Night the Lights Went Out). In addition to the personal, in-depth conversations, each episode features an impromptu short-story each guest and I craft together.
All episodes are available on my YouTube channel and wherever you get your favorite podcasts. Check them out now here!
|What I’m Reading|
The Mirror Man: A Killer Instinct Novel by Lars Kepler (Knopf, 2022) I was fortunate enough to get my greedy little paws on an advance copy of Kepler’s 2022 thriller. How was I able to do this, you ask? Because yours truly was invited to be in-conversation with Kepler at their official launch event in January (so excited). I plan to dive into this thriller over the holidays, because nothing paints the joy of the season like a book about “gritty portrayals of human evil” (Booklist)
LARS KEPLER is the pseudonym of the critically acclaimed husband-and-wife team Alexandra Coelho Ahndoril and Alexander Ahndoril. Their number one internationally best-selling Killer Instinct series has sold more than 15 million copies in forty languages. The Ahndorils were both established writers before they adopted the pen name Lars Kepler and have each published several acclaimed novels. They live in Stockholm, Sweden.
|What I’m Watching|
Val (2021, Amazon Prime). I love a documentary about someone’s origin story, which is maybe why I’ve been watching so many music docs lately. But Val isn’t about a band, it’s about Val Kilmer. Yeah, you know him – Iceman from Top Gun! Even if you’re not a fan of his work, this is a stunning movie to watch, in no small part due to the fact all the years of footage were taken by Kilmer himself. From his early days getting outshone on stage by Sean Penn and Kevin Bacon to hitting the height of fame in Batman Forever and Heat, this is an emotional recounting of a life lived in extremes. Kilmer is a recent throat-cancer survivor–sacrificing his voice in the process–and the film is narrated by his son, who unnervingly sounds just like him.
|Photo of the Month|
I haven’t left this country since November 2019 and I’m definitely feeling wanderlusty. Here’s a throwback to my Machu Picchu trip a decade ago.
|Update from My Kids|
My 16-year-old boy dropped this story on me yesterday:
Sawyer went to the gym and when he was driving away a guy in a car flagged him down and asked him if he wanted a Bluetooth speaker.(!)
So Sawyer parked his car and said, “Sure.”(!!)
The man gets out of his car and tells Sawyer to come over to his trunk.(!!!!!!)
The man then proceeds to show Sawyer a very big box containing a very big speaker with a price tag reading $1,200. Mind you, Sawyer was thinking by “Bluetooth speaker” the man was giving away some little cheapo speakers for whatever random reason. But now it was slowly dawning on him the man wanted money for this very clearly stolen piece of merchandise. The man asked for $600, to which Sawyer replied he only had seven bucks on him, then to which the man said they could go to an ATM together (WTF!).
Fortunately, this story doesn’t end with Sawyer either stabbed or penniless. He just told the dude nah, man, I’m good, and they went their separate ways.
Still, not the story you want to hear at the dinner table five days later.
|Update from My Cat|
We had quite the scare with Guff last month. He was fine one moment and then suddenly decided to stop eating. The vet couldn’t find anything wrong, and after nearly four days without food he had to be placed on a feeding tube. After two days on the feeding tube he finally started eating on his own again. A week after he’d first stopped eating he was back to normal, and no one could figure out what the problem was.
It was a stressful and miserable week, but we are all happy Guff is back to being his normal, evil self.
|Internet Find of the Month, Sent to Me by a Friend|
|Book-Love Instagram Post of the Month|
That’s it for now! See you next month.