Tuesday, August 2

Me? Really?

You know, it's funny how we don't always think about how others see us until something unexpected comes along that shows you that others' impressions of you are completely out of whack with your own idea of yourself. And inside that convoluted thought is a real moment of self-discovery for me.This is going somewhere, I promise . . .

In the past few months, I've had several invitations/opportunities to blog or speak about writing, either as Editor Nan or Author Nan. I've never considered myself to be a public speaker or a teacher or really anyone who has anything all that worthwhile to say. But Romance University invited me to join their blog and become a quarterly contributor. Last winter, I spoke to my chapter mates about writing and editing at our annual IRWA Retreat. I've done several guest blogs, and later this month, I'll be speaking at the local library in our little lake town.

Mostly, I'm speaking as Editor Nan and I have to be honest, I feel a tiny bit more confident speaking from that frame of reference than I do from the author point of view. Yes, I am a writer and yes, I am a published author, but I still struggle with the whole idea of not feeling like a real author because only one of my books is traditionally published. But I can speak to the experience of being an indie author and I'm surprised by how frequently people want to hear about that.

Editor Nan works better for me. I can talk about what copy editors do and how they do it. I can talk with authority about what editors look for, how writers can make their manuscript more polished, and how to present their very best work. (Hint: make sure you find a professional copy editor to give your story a thorough going-over before you submit it or before you put it up yourself.)

All of this is to say that it amazes me that people think of me as an expert about anything. Me! This woman who spends way too much time wondering if she'll ever be accepted by a traditional publisher; who worries all the time about not being smart enough or a good enough writer to ever make it in this crazy field; who often goes weeks without writing a word and stresses that, like Liz said yesterday, she'll never be able to write another word.

As I'm preparing for the library gig later this month, I keep shaking my head and thinking, "holy toledo, these people are coming to hear me talk about publishing!" And although I'm fairly sure I can answer with intelligence and some degree of authority any questions that come up, I still feel slightly like an imposter. I felt the same way when I signed books at Spring Fling and I always feel that way when one of of my darling friends introduces me as, "my author friend, Nan Reinhardt."

There's a name for this feeling, believe it or not, it's a real thing, apparently, called Imposter Syndrome. Seriously. Go take a look: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Impostor_syndrome.  I'll wait here . . . oh, hi, you're back. Crazy, right? The whole
". . . referring to high-achieving individuals marked by an inability to internalize their accomplishments and a persistent fear of being exposed as a fraud," part is so true of me (well, except for the high-achieving part). 

Ah ha! And therein, mes amies, lies the crux of the issue. I don't think of having written and published four novels as "high achieving." I don't regard establishing an editorial services company from the ground up, building an impressive list of clients, and being the copy editor that several world-famous romantic fiction authors ask for by name as anything particularly noteworthy. I don't consider raising a brilliant and highly successful son as an accomplishment. At least, not in myself. If anyone else were to tell me these things about themselves, I'd be impressed as hell. So why do I feel like an imposter when I'm interviewed as an accomplished woman? Do any of you deal with this, too? How do we get over it and start being as impressed with our own accomplishments (without turning into an asshat) as others are?



12 comments:

  1. Joining you in the line of imposters... You ARE a wonderful writer and editor. Personally, I think you would be a great teacher, too, because you are able to get points across. But I think if we start seeing ourselves as too successful, we DO have to be really careful about that other syndrome you mentioned--the asshat one! :-)

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    1. Thank you, Liz, and yup, it's so very true that one could easily fall into asshat mode if we start truly believing our own hype. You also are a great writer and I love your stories and I want the whole world to read your stories because I know everyone who did would love them too. But you know, even writing this post made me worry that I was asking for people to pet me...it's a vicious damn cycle, isn't it?

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  2. That inner critic inside us really does a number on our confidence. I think the Imposter Syndrome afflicts women more often then men, and I think it affects more people than just writers. I recently heard a discussion about trying to encourage women to run for politics. If a man was approached to run his first reaction was "What took you so long to ask me?" When a woman was approached, she'd say things like "I don't think I'm qualified, I don't have enough experience." See? Imposter Syndrome there, too. So you're in good company Nan!

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    1. Thanks for coming by, Jana--yup, you're absolutely right. Imposter Syndrome does primarily affect women according to what I've read. Isn't that a sad statement about our culture?

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  3. From someone who has read ALL your books and loved them you are an author. I was so nervous when I finally got to meet you in person. I was meeting an AUTHOR who I admire! Yet you came over and greeted me and gave me a hug. I privately went all "fan girl" and was so excited. We just don't see ourselves as others see us.

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    1. Oh, Carolyn, bless your heart! I know how you feel about the fan girl thing--when Liz Flaherty first came to my house, I was practically stupid with the thrill of having one of my favorite authors actually sitting in my living room! I'm fairly certain she'll laugh when she reads this because now we're BFFs and I can't imagine my lief without her. I'm so glad you enjoyed my books and I'm totally loving getting to know you here and at RWA events. Please say you're coming to Retreat this year! <>

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    2. Make that a please from me, too, Carolyn! And, yes, Nan, I'm laughing.

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    3. I would be that way if Liz would come to my house. I met you both at the same event and told all my friends about meeting my favorite authors!

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  4. all.the.time.

    Also, I think it's more than Imposter Syndrome...for a lot of women (me included) the basis is that we are taught from an early age not to be toooooo competitive or tooooo good at something and told if we are good at something, to be overly humble - and sometimes even self-deprecating about it. I'm trying *very* hard not to raise bebe that way, because as an adult, I see the fallacy in that kind of upbringing. We *should* be proud of our accomplishments, and we *should* celebrate them. So, Nan, I'm tossing some celebratory confetti in the air for you (for all of us) today!

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    1. Thanks, Kristi! I'll accept that confetti with great joy!

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  5. Ditto what Kristi said! Confetti for us all.

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    1. Bless you, Margie!! So glad you came by for some more confetti tossing!

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