Imposter Syndrome

I submitted a short story to an anthology that will hopefully be coming out later this year. It’s a Lovecraftian horror tale, with elements of body horror, and so far it’s been well received. Because I’m not great with deadlines, I was writing the thing until about 1:20am on Saturday, at which point I sent it off.

From then until Sunday evening, I then suffered from the kind of crippling anxiety that only another writer will understand. Is it any good? Is it actually scary? Did I telegraph the ending?

It’s odd, when you think about it. I’m in my early fifties now (still have no idea how that happened). I’m reasonably successful at my day job, to the point that my boss gets worried that I’ll leave. I’m a published game writer and designer, and I’ve got a few short stories and a novel under my belt. While I’ve garnered a few rejection letters, they’ve all been very positive about my writing and when I’ve been unsuccessful, it’s been because a big name has responded at the last minute (the last time it was Len Wein, which is perfectly fine by me!).

In short, I should have a little more confidence in my own ability.

So why, when my fiancée (a writer herself and utterly trustworthy when it comes to an honest critique) told me she’d read the thing on Saturday and loved it, did I then have a mini-meltdown? She told me the thing was scary, and disturbing, and that I didn’t telegraph the ending at all. Even though this was the best outcome I could have expected, and even though I trust her absolutely, I kept having to check that this was real. Not due to any lack of faith in her, you understand, but because I have no faith in myself.

Is every writer like this?


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