Before I can get started, let me give a little back story, word-vomit style. In 2010 I graduated with a degree in psychology and got a job at a residential facility for children with mental illnesses ranging from depression to violent, schizophrenic tendencies. I worked there Friday-Sunday and on every holiday (yes, Thanksgiving, Xmas Eve, and Xmas) and still picked up shifts at the pet store I worked at while completing my degree. Retail...*shudders*
My husband is a teacher, and our first year and a half of marriage was spent never having a day off together. The money was crap, the hours were horrible, and I'd fantasize about getting in a car accident on the way to work because that sounded better than actually clocking in. Nothing serious, maybe a little fender-bender or something similar that would get me out of my shift. Something had to change. So I went back to school again and in 2013, graduated with a degree in nursing, and started working in long term care/rehab. The pay got better, but the hours got longer, and I was still working weekends and holidays again, and evenings on the weekdays.
Now, about writing...wait, I lied. I need more backstory. Technically. I’ve been published since 2012. But I took about a year hiatus when nursing school (and then working as a nurse), a new baby, and writing became too much and I just couldn’t keep up. I made my come back almost exactly a year ago when I published Never Say Never. I felt like a debut author again, and was a brand spanking new fish in the ocean that is contemporary romance.
When I published NSN in September 2015, I was still working nights, weekends, and holidays as a nurse. I wouldn’t get home until 1AM or later, would write as long as I could (I was pregnant with baby #2), and then get up early with my toddler, who went through a horribly annoying phase of getting up at the butt crack of dawn. I was exhausted, emotional from pregnancy hormones, and technically on modified bed rest because of intense pain and cramping I kept having (which was from stress and lack of sleep…but I couldn’t afford to NOT work, so I was stuck in a bitter cycle).
The book did well. Not as well as I’d hoped, I admit, but well enough for a book by someone who’d been pretty much non existent over the last year, and by someone who had no fans in the genre. I made enough to scale back on hours and focus on my next release (Outside the Lines), which I dumbly planned 2.5 weeks before my due date, and the day after my sister’s wedding.
Long story short…the horrible timing hurt the release. It didn’t move as well as NSN, but still wasn’t horrible enough for me to scrap the whole writing thing. But it shook my confidence.
Now, OtL was done before it’s release date, and I started working on another book that I’d been itching to start for months. I wrote the blurb before I even started the book, which is a first for me, which shows how excited I was for this. I usually put off blurbs as long as humanly possible. I almost killed myself from exhaustion, but I finished the first draft before I went into labor, which was perfect. I figured I’d take a good 2-3 weeks off and not even open my computer, then start edits and have everything lined up perfectly for my Jan 28th release date.
My new baby was perfect and I couldn’t ask for more. But…she had her days and nights mixed up. I was tired and sore from giving birth, and then was staying up pretty much all night either getting her back to sleep (usually unsuccessfully) or editing and marketing. I pushed the release back 2 weeks and just KNEW this book was a failure. If it wasn’t for my amazing friends and family encouraging me to keep the faith, I wouldn’t have published this book. I put my heart and soul into it, they reminded me. Even if it flops, I owe it to myself to publish the book.
So I published it.
And it didn’t flop. It did the exact opposite. I watched the sales pour in and my KDP page reads grow and grow and grow. Before the month was over, I had already made more from that one book than I could make working as a nurse for an entire year. It was amazing. It was surreal. And…it had to be a huge mistake. People were buying my book by mistake. Amazon had a week-long glitch that jacked up my page reads. The glitch must have continued into the next week. And the next…
This continued, from February until right now as I’m sitting here writing this. Things just kind of exploded in the best way. I quit my job as a nurse. I can stay home with my young children, earing way more than I ever thought possible. I got audio book deals. I had a title hit the NYT Bestseller List. I was making a good six figures. Things were going better than I ever could dreamed, yet my anxiety started to increase tenfold.
I had this weird sense of being a fraud, of not being worthy of considering myself successful, even though I’d crossed off multiple goals I’d hope to meet someday. There were other authors more successful, hitting the NYT list again and again, with loads of fans and a huge social media following. Yes, I’m making lots of money. But others make more. I didn’t get 3K views on the video I posted in my street team. My cover reveal didn’t get shared 800 times. I don’t have thousands and thousands of IG followers.
So I’m NOT successful.
I can pay my bills from writing money. People come to see me at book events. I’ve reached a level as an author I only dreamed about. My goal to make it into the Top 100 on Amazon was met multiple times.
I was proud of myself and felt like the hours and hours I spent at my desk, and all the sleepless nights finally paid off. I tried to remind myself of the hours I put in at my other jobs, of sacrificing holidays, not spending all Christmas with my one year old because I had to work, of the hours I put in after writing to market and organize promos. It was hard work. There were times I cried from exhaustion. But...others work hard too.
And then I didn’t feel worthy.
Other people work hard too. Why are my books doing well and theirs aren’t? I don’t deserve this. Yeah, I like to think I’m a good person, but I’m sure there are better people.
I went back on forth on this until the anxiety became crippling. Self doubt filled me at all times, affecting my whole life and not just writing. Any pride I felt from reaping rewards of hard work was shadowed by guilt of not being good enough. I had this weird fear that others were judging me, snickering behind my back that I thought I was successful, because I’m not. It put me into an existential crisis that took time and energy away from, well, everything.
And that’s when a friend told me about imposter syndrome. I looked it up and thought holy shit, that’s me.
I’m a private person when it comes to social media. I honestly don’t know if I’ll even post this. Or I’ll post and delete a minute or two later. If you’re reading this, consider yourself lucky. I feel like a fraud for writing this. Because you have to be successful to have imposture syndrome, and I’m not successful.
Which is exactly why I’m writing this.
I’m writing this because imposter syndrome mostly affects women, and I think that says something about our society’s views on successful women.
I’m writing this because talking about our emotions—especially the bad ones—is still taboo.
I’m writing this because there is a chance if you’re reading it, you’re feeling imposture syndrome too, and I want you to know you’re not alone.