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Syndrome: A group of symptoms that consistently occur together or a condition characterized by a set of associated symptoms.

One does not merely walk into a publishing contract without seeing at least a few of the signs of impostor syndrome in oneself.  I've been declaring many of my symptoms not to be emblematic of the syndrome, because, well, I think one has to have some sort of Emperor's New Clothes feeling about the whole thing in order to get the firm diagnosis on the impostor syndrome.  All things considered, I have largely not felt that anyone was particularly looking at me, nor have I secretly felt that other people could see my clothes while I could not.

If anything, she grumbled to herself on occasion, I felt that people weren't taking me seriously enough: because I write kidlit, because I'm a gurl, because I'm not conventionally attractive, because I still work my dayjob, because whatever.  But they are rarely, if ever, people who actually matter to the course of my career.  Not really.  Does it matter if a mil-SF writer doesn't give me the time of day at a convention? No, it does not. I don't write mil-SF, and I never will.

Plus, at the heart of it, I have all the girls and women who write me the letters and let me know I made their lives better--or that they were at least a little bit in love with Dragos, whatever--and that is enough to keep me going.  (Yes, girls and women. I haven't gotten one fan letter from a boy or man.)  And when I started this endeavor to become a published writer of novels, that was the plan, see? To make people feel as great as my favorite writers made me feel.

So, when impostor syndrome is brought up, I usually go, "Hm, no, I'm fine."

But then I notice something--stuff like what provoked my last entry here, in fact, or finding oneself/one's work in a random list, casually mentioned, as if one had written something that everyone knew about (not the case)--and I blink and go, "Oooooh.  Impostor syndrome."

It's all those little moments working together that make the syndrome for me.  I never have moments of "I shouldn't be here" or "They're all going to find out, soon."  That's not how it works for me.  It never has.

I have the blessing and the curse of being an only child who is both a first-born and last-born grandchild, and I have a full repertoire of coping mechanisms for dealing with the real world not particularly thinking I'm as special as my family always made it out to be--one of those coping mechanisms is never believing that I'm less than anyone else thinks.  Haha, no.

So anyway. Call me a late bloomer.  I finally get why it's a syndrome, because it seeps into the cracks and gets you, rather than throwing you down the rabbit hole with something you could see on an MRI.  I get it now.

Drat it all.


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 23rd, 2013 11:58 am (UTC)
I still would have liked The Princess Curse if I didn't know you. I thought it was a nice and tight story.

Jul. 26th, 2013 04:05 am (UTC)
Wow ... thanks for writing this. I have a mix of feelings and thoughts in reaction to it, spinning around my long-day-done head. I will try to grab a few.

I haven't gotten one fan letter from a boy or man.

This is my fault (insofar as i am male in form). I planned one. I picked out words in my head. I just never got to it.

... but no time like the present, and no cause to stand on ceremony (and risk that i won't get to it again). Consider this my "fan mail" to you, here and now.

As you know, i don't read a lot. In fact, i don't think i'd read anything resembling a "book" since i stopped commuting by rail (August 2010) until i embarked upon yours. I promised i'd read it and i did, slowly and despite much distraction, as that's pretty much the only way i can read mosttimes. I finished it sometime last month.

Allow me to point out two important truths. First, promise notwithstanding, i wanted to read it. Second, and more importantly, i'm very happy that i did.

I'll spare you a full review -- partially because you've forgotten more books than i've read in my whole life -- but i'll note a few quick things that really jumped out me.

First -- i loved Reveka. ... especially in contrast to the princesses and many other characters. She was tough and real and passionate and walked that line between "functional in expected role" and "f**k that". She's the kind of girl i like to hang with, and i enjoyed taking the journey with her as a companion.

Second -- the Underworld was beautiful. I loved the forest and the dark sun. I want to be there. I want to explore its metallic flora and meet its spirits. I love how it all unfolded as she wandered it, her path erasing the dark bit by bit, each new wonder leaving the implication of a hundred more yet unseen.

Last -- the lead-up to the ending was a great ride. I found myself questioning and turning along with Reveka as her opportunity to escape began to materialize, hoping so much that it would turn out like it finally did.

I've had the fun of wandering through worlds of your imagination before, and the experience of reading your writing before, but they came together here in what was a new way for me. While i lack the vocabulary to comment on your writing in and of itself, i hope that my comments above are a testament to the fact that it worked. Thank you.

To make people feel as great as my favorite writers made me feel.

Yes. That. That's why i wanted to make music. I wanted to move as i was moved.

I finally get why it's a syndrome, because it seeps into the cracks and gets you, rather than throwing you down the rabbit hole with something you could see on an MRI.

For me, the syndrome was always more overt, though i never had a name for it. For me, it was usually at my day job. Interestingly, i never felt it as a musician. Then again, i never really had any success to speak of as a musician. Then again again, i never really had much success in my day job, either, except that they seemed willing to pay me to do it (unlike my gig as a musician). Either way, even in my best moments of music, i don't recall feeling it. Standing on the encore stage at the Ark in front of all those folks was humbling, and it still brings me to tears of gratitude to think on it, but i never thought i was fooling anyone. If anything, i thought, "they know me, and they're still here!"

If someone handed me a record contract someday, or hired me for some full-time gig, i guess i'd worry a lot about blowing it. I don't know if one calls such a practical concern a "syndrome", but it's real enough. At this point, though, after so many years of hope and now a few of pragmatic surrender, i think i'd be to distracted by just being STOKED AS ALL HELL to care.

... which i am for you. FWIW, i say don't sweat it. You worked for this. ... for years. We watched you do it. You deserve it more than many who've got it, and some who've had it longer and more. There's always more to learn, but that's as it should be. Fear not.

Sorry for the typical ES epic comment, but i owed you. :) Thanks for the post. ... and for your craft. Rock ever onward.
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