Anytime I get to that point where I’m about to place something brand new out there in front of the world, as I just did with Relevant Law, I get nervous. I get imposter syndrome. I get antsy. I begin to feel unworthy. Why should I think that anyone would want to read what I write?
I wrote fan fiction for thirty years before writing and publishing Love’s Magic. I’ve been writing since high school. I’m pushing eighty years old, and I STILL get that feeling.
I was raised in an era where a woman’s only allowable goals in life were to get a man, have his kids, and live to service all of them. And I did that. Nothing was for me. I was a selfless martyr. Nothing I wanted mattered. And I wondered why I wasn’t happy.
So, when I’m about to release a new book, I have to remind myself of the most important fact regarding this worthy endeavor. I do it for me.
I love the feedback. I love reading good reviews. I love having readers who appreciate what I write. I love having the respect of follow authors. But come right down to it, I write because I love writing. I write for me.
And that fact gives me comfort in those pre-publishing moments when I’m struggling to believe in myself and in what I create. It’s the creative process that matters most. And I do that for myself. I hope folks out there enjoy the end result of that process. But my value as an author doesn’t depend on whether or not others approve of my finished work. Because I don’t do it for them. I do it for me.
There are other moments when I have to stop and remind myself why I write these books. And those moments usually revolve around seeing that another author had made the ‘best-seller’ list or has received some kind of award. OK. I admit it. At moments like that I feel a HUGE flood of envy followed almost immediately by a nearly terminal case of ‘imposter syndrome’. Why don’t my books make the best seller list? Why haven’t my books won an award? I must be a terrible writer and my books must be shit!
No. I’m not a terrible writer. And my books aren’t shit. I’m not ashamed to admit that it takes a little while for me to shake off those horrible feelings and dismiss my inclination to remove all my books from Amazon and delete Scrivener from my MAC. I can’t use the success of others as my yardstick. I have to narrow my perspective. I can’t cast my net over the entire planet, or even the entire spectrum of those who write gay romance. I have to narrow it down to just one small point in the whole universe. Me.
Do I like what I wrote? Do I find it worthy? Did I do my best to tell the story with all the skill and love I possess? Did I give it my best shot? Did I give it my all? And if I can answer ‘yes’ to those questions I need to get a grip and remember that I don’t write my books to get on the best seller list. I don’t write them to get an award. I write them because those stories are inside me, dying to get out and I’m the only one who can release them onto an unsuspecting world.
Everyone doesn’t have to like them and not everyone will. But I can’t care about and I’d go insane if I tried. I have to do it for me. And when I stop doing it for me… I need to stop doing it at all.