Encouragement, Discouragement, and the Impostor Syndrome

impostor syndrome


Every day the Medium Daily Digest appears in my Gmail inbox, giving me the opportunity to read articles from various progressive voices. If you’ve read other of my social commentaries on this blog (not the hottest of topics among my readers based on the statistics, “likes,” and comments), you know I sample a wide range of opinions in an effort to keep informed.

Much of the time, it isn’t easy reading the opinions of people who don’t like you, or at least, don’t like what they think you stand for, but I don’t want to spend all my time reading and listening to viewpoints with which I already agree.

That’s why the article We Need to Redefine Success for Writers by James Ardis came as a bit of a surprise.

He certainly isn’t widely published, and his advice seemed fairly generic, but I was compelled by the source. Usually, it is the more socially and politically conservative authors, typically who operate in the speculative fiction genre, who are the ones suggesting indie publishing.

The Ardis essay was the sort of “cross-pollination” I’ve always hoped was possible but feared was doomed from the outset.

The same with Christianity. When I found Morgan Jerkins’s essay Why I Still Go to Church at the same source, I was intrigued. It certainly challenged many of my prejudices about progressives and Christianity.

Here’s how she ended her missive:

I still go to church on Sundays. I still sit in a pew and listen to a pastor or priest. However, I remember that I have power myself to go back to the same text they do and trust myself and God that I will get there. Wherever there might be.

This is a testimony to faith and our personal relationship with the Almighty that transcends the political and social nature of the American church, and along with Ardis’s commentary, I found it encouraging and enlightening.

However, I’ve been following a thread at ChristianForums.com titled Todays State of Israel Is Not Final Return, and many of the comments that have been made there since Monday are highly, highly antisemitic, many also being supersessionalist.

I won’t go into the details and how some of the comments make my blood boil, but it is very disheartening, and one of the many reasons I will probably never find fellowship in the normative church, regardless of denomination.

But relative to the intersection of fiction writing, Christianity, and Judaism (it’s complicated, especially those last two), this is the pond in which I swim.

It’s a discouraging world and we have to either find or make the encouragement and motivation we need to keep on going.

I’ve got about three or four short story rejections under my belt, and eight or nine short stories submitted that are still being considered. Oh, not one acceptance yet, so I don’t even have a minor victory to call my own.

I’ve currently got two novels in the works (both in first draft). The fantasy novel (dragons!) is 80,000+ words strong, and I have a clear vision on where it’s going.

My steampunk novel is ~32,000 words and I’ve hit a roadblock which I’ll need to push through. More than the first, this one will need some serious revision before it’s ready for public consumption.

I did receive some additional encouragement from an unexpected source: my family.

My wife and I have very different tastes in entertainment and activities, so she’s never expressed an interest in my writing, blogging, or whatever. That’s fine and dandy. After over 35 years of marriage, we’ve redefined ourselves and our relationship enough times to expect some “drift.”

My nine-year-old grandson, on the other hand, loves my writing, at least the nearly two-year-long series I’ve been authoring for him (also dragons!). He and his sister were at our place a few weeks back. When I came home from work, he met me in the driveway. As we were walking inside, he said he’d been talking to Bubbe (my wife is Jewish and “Bubbe” is Yiddish for “Grandma”) and they both agreed that I should try to publish some of my stories.


Okay, my grandson, I can see saying that, but having that comment attributed to my Long Suffering Wife was, to me, nothing short of amazing (of course, I don’t think she understands the amount of time and money involved, even in indie publication of a novel).

Now that was very encouraging.

In the end, though, as a writer who is struggling to become published in fiction (I’m already published as a writer of textbooks and self-study guides), I suspect I will find myself sitting alone late at night in the darkness of my wee home office contemplating my future and my fate.

Sure, self-publishing is doable, but I want to have more than a few dozen or a few hundred people purchase and read my work, assuming it’s worthy of that, of course.

Popping off two or three little flash fiction pieces a day is easy for me since I don’t have to live with any one story or story idea very long, and the structure is extraordinarily simple. However even a 3,000-10,000 word short story, let alone a 80,000-100,000 word novel is a struggle. Just trying to keep track of all the “moving parts” is difficult and requires copious notes.

However, the real hard part is not giving into Impostor Syndrome along with the (perceived or real) biases the entertainment and publishing industry seems to have against older people, white people, men, conservatives, and Christians.

It takes a toll, but then again, so far all that exists merely within the confines of my skull, the only objective measure of success or failure I have is in the aforementioned three or four rejections of my short stories.

Faith in God is one thing, but faith in the publishing industry (not to mention my own nascent abilities) is something else entirely.

I guess I’ll stick with faith in God. It’s no guarantee that I’ll get what I want, but I do believe I’ll get what I need. I just have to recognize it when I see it.

11 thoughts on “Encouragement, Discouragement, and the Impostor Syndrome

  1. You might consider self-publishing at least one of your full-length novels, as sort of a means to “prime the pump”, as it were. Thus you break through one initial roadblock, and provide a sample that might interest a more traditional publisher in your capabilities.


  2. A coworker self published a book. I don’t know how many words but it’s 56 pages in length.
    You can find it on Amazon, it’s called Battle of Life.
    It’s not very good, imo — and I’m NOT the only one that thinks that way.


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