Writing, Writing Posts

The Muse’s Lover: Impostor Syndrome

Hello, lovelies!

I hope everyone is having a good day! I’m a little sleep deprived yay new puppy still adjusting and us being forced to restart her training after almost two months in thanks to forces out of our control and I’m feeling intense amounts of jealousy over the WorldCon that so many friends and industry professionals who I admire are currently attending in Dublin right now, so why not write another personal post this morning about impostor syndrome?

Because oh boy, am I feeling it this week.

right in the feels GIF

I finished another draft of BLOOD PRICE recently and then sent it off to a few readers to get a second opinion. While waiting for that feedback to roll in, I worked on my ARTEMIS series again because I don’t take breaks, apparently, revamping the overarching plot to something that makes a lot more sense and got me even more excited for this series again. Since I’ve already queried the first book, I think I’m going to go the self-published route for this quartet, but I also think I’m going to try and write all four books, first? Who knows, we’ll see.

Anyway, I went through and made some adjustments to the first book and honestly, I think it just needs one more line-edit pass and it’s good to go. I’ve worked on it a lot and I think it’s finally ready. The second book in the series is written, but it needs a major overhaul (since that’s still draft zero/draft one that I haven’t even touched since first writing it), especially with the overarching plot restructuring, which really effects this book’s plot, in particular. So, I was thinking about diving in and working on that manuscript.

But then, I got feedback about BLOOD PRICE.

Granted, it’s only one opinion, so far, but it’s an opinion I trust and they brought up some really good points. Even though some of the elements they brought up were still more developmental than I hoped, when I felt really strong that I could move onto line edits and finally send this manuscript out to query.

I have to admit, I got a little deflated, because I just want this book to be ready.

But, I let the feedback marinate for a bit, then went back and took some notes on how to incorporate it (all while being embarrassed on the number of typos that still managed to escape my notice, four drafts in) and I have a solid gameplan. Honestly, I don’t think it’ll be too difficult to incorporate it into my manuscript and I think I’m going to try something new and just jump to the sections I need to edit/improve and do that, before I do another read through to fix the typos and make sure it’s cohesive and coherent, before finally, I can query.

I sat down to work on it yesterday, deciding to let my Artemis project wait, because my passion, right now, is for BLOOD PRICE and I am so close; so, so, so close.

And I couldn’t work on it.

the lion king what GIF

Because my brain started thinking about querying again. It started thinking about rejection and how badly I want this story to make it…and yet how terrified I am that it won’t…but also, how terrified I am that it will? I began to doubt if I could pull this off, doubt this story, doubt myself as a writer, doubt if I had any talent, doubt if this story was good enough, if it was worth telling.

I kept aimlessly pursuing Twitter, wasting time, avoiding working on this manuscript even though I had some ample time to do just that; time that, here in two weeks, once the semester starts back up again and my job’s workload skyrockets once more, I won’t have again for a while. Guilt began to pile up that I was wasting this precious, rare time, my brain whisper shouting at me the entire time: How can you call yourself a serious writer when you’re avoiding writing? How can this story still scare you, even when you love it? You’re never going to make it if you don’t put in the work.

Eventually, I gave up and read a book for fun (and I loved it, the ending was brutal yet perfect and GAH) but even that made me feel guilty, because I’ll never have a chance to hold my novel in my hands if I don’t put in the work and fix what’s still broken.

martin freeman sherlock GIF

My mood plummeted. Depression seeped in all too easily, especially when I’m still struggling to adapt to this puppy and it’s been harder than I thought (and we’re having complications at our apartment which interrupted our training routine with her, so we’re basically being forced to start over from square one, which just sucks). Writing was supposed to be my escape from everything else and now I’m too busy feeling like a failure because I still haven’t nailed this story, four drafts later, and this story still scares me to tell, because it’s so politically-charged and covering a “taboo” topic of empowering women through their periods in a fantasy setting?

Ironically, yesterday I also had a coffee date planned with a new friend who’s a coworker I didn’t know also writes fantasy and we wanted to meet and just talk about writing as writers, since we discovered we have that connection. I almost cancelled, because I was in such bad spirits and felt like a fraud. How can you go and meet another write and talk about your process and your novels when you can’t even sit down to write when you have the time to do so?

But, I went.

And my mood lifted.

A lot.

Happy Usa Network GIF by Psych

We talked about writing: what we enjoyed about it, what we struggled with, how long we’ve been doing it, the paths of publication we plan to pursue (both wanting to become hybrid authors). We talked about cons and writing groups and advice we’ve read from our favorite authors and dreams of attending those cons and one day being invited to those cons. We talked craft and books on writing and blogs and social media platforms. We went over our allotted time by 15 minutes before we both realized we needed to rush back to work, where I had more meetings to go to, but I was in higher spirits. I finished out the work day in a positive mood and then met my Mom for dinner, before hanging out with my family for a bit. It turned out to be a really lovely day.

Even though I didn’t write a single thing.

This morning, I’m still scared to dive back in. I’m still a little bummed that I haven’t quite completed this story to the high level upon which I thought I’d achieved (though it has leveled up dramatically with every draft, so it by no means isn’t making progress). But I’m also bloody stubborn. I’ve also been working on this story for almost two years now and, though it scares me, I also recognize it’s one of my favorite things I’ve ever written and I believe the strongest story I’ve ever written. And it deserves this work. It deserves me to be challenged by smart, honest beta readers. It deserves my fear, my whole heart being invested, my nerves and my dedication.

As Victoria Schwab tweeted and I now live by:

Show up.

Put in the work.

Let go of the outcome.

So…let’s get to work.

Cheers.post signature

13 thoughts on “The Muse’s Lover: Impostor Syndrome”

  1. I’m also fiddling with a fourth draft of a novel (my first). I want it to be better, but eh, if my first novel is my best, then it’d only be downhill from there, ack!

    Happy writing/editing!

  2. Beautifully put, Nicole ❤ Writing is so much more frightening than I ever thought it would be, but I'm so glad that you are pushing through it all. Something I have to tell myself (a lot), and that I would like to stress to you, is that you are so much better than you think you are. Good luck with writing and everything else, it will all be okay!

    1. Aww, thank you so much, love! I know I am really behind on responding to comments, but this really meant to a lot! ❤ Rooting for you and all of your writing dreams, goals and projects!

  3. As I’m currently living in the query trenches, it’s so hard keeping that light and spark alive. I struggle the most with the “Let Go of the Outcome” part, but after a while you just want any outcome. And breaks are okay. I’m determined not to be querying next year and taking 2020 off seems harrowing x.x

    1. “…but after a while, you just want any outcome.” Fuck if that doesn’t ring true 1,000%. I definitely feel that, though. I don’t want to take breaks because I am just SO ready for this to be my career (or at least a part of it) and I feel most whole when I’m writing or working on a story, but at the same time, breaks are so important for the process and definitely healthy to take.

  4. Keep at it Nicole! I say that knowing that if you’re down having someone say “you can do it” is either helpful or just the opposite. I’m hoping it’s helpful this time. If not then totally ignore me.

  5. This sounds similar to how I felt before I burnt out: You’d been working so hard on Blood Price, then went straight to Artemis, and with the feedback setback it’s no wonder you hit a wall with it. If you can’t get back into it right away, don’t beat yourself up. Even if it’s for a couple of days, try to let go of the pressure you’ve put on yourself to work on it and take a break. It may seem like wasted time, but if you continue to power through there’s a chance you won’t make as much progress as you would’ve with a break, if that makes sense? You’ll get there eventually, I know it 😀

  6. I’ve never ever read a post more relatable than this one and perfectly echoing with my feelings, too. I too often avoid writing because I’m just feeling like it’s not good enough no matter what I do and that impostor syndrom hits me so, so hard every time I write. I love that tweet you included at the end and, this past week I’ve been trying to do that. Just try to show up every day a little bit and try to do something. Just a little bit, to move on and do my best to get some writing done. It’s not easy, but we’re trying and that’s what matters. You’re doing amazing, rooting for you ❤

    1. *just cries forever*

      Marie, thank you so much!! I mean, I feel bad that this resonates, because imposter syndrome absolutely and positively sucks, but I’m so glad you can know you’re not alone with this post! And yes, I have completely embraced that and am trying my hardest to embrace it fully!

      And you’re right, we ARE trying and books won’t get written without that most vital step. We got this and I’m always rooting for you! ❤

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