Today I am excited to welcome author Garett Groves. Garett is joining us as part of the GRL Blog Tour and is here sharing some thoughts with us about the event. Please join me in giving Garett a big welcome!
I’ll never forget the moment that I pressed publish on my very first book, Salt & Pepper. It was nerve wracking. I’d spent weeks working on it, obsessing over it even, and it was finally going out into the world. I fully expected it to sink like a stone in the swamp of Amazon’s catalogue. I was a brand-new author with no recognition and no real idea what I was doing…
… And then my book shot to number 2 on the gay romance charts and stuck there.
For two weeks.
To say that I was blown away would be the understatement of the millennium. There my book was rubbing shoulders with the likes of some of the books written by people that I’d been quietly reading and admiring for months… And it didn’t belong there. Or at least that’s what I told myself.
We have a term for that as artists. It’s called Imposter Syndrome, and that’s what I’d like to lay down some knowledge about today, because I think we all experience it to some degree. It’s also quite topical given that hundreds of us readers and writers are about to come together for the GayRomLit convention and I’m feeling like an imposter again as a result.
I’ve got several books under my belt now, with several more on the way. I recently quit my day job to write full-time thanks to the success of those books. By all metrics, I am a bonafide, clawed-my-way-here writer and I deserve the success that I’ve seen, right? I’ve earned my place at the table with those other authors that I admire so much, right? My brain says otherwise.
Even now, as a supporting author at the GayRomLit convention with my name in big, giant letters in the promotional material, I still feel like an imposter and that at any given time someone is going to approach me and tell me just how much I don’t belong. They’ll tell me that my writing sucks and that the whole thing was just a fluke, a freak accident, or that it was all luck and that my luck has now officially run out.
See, I’m constantly reading other author’s books and paying attention to how they conduct themselves online and in person. I compare my work to theirs, analyzing what it is they’re doing and how I can incorporate elements of their strategy into my own. In other words, I’m a bit of a mimic, and us writers all are to a certain extent. The unfortunate side effect of that is that I’m often convinced that, yeah, these authors actually deserve their success because they’re incredible writers and incredible people. And I’m just masquerading as both of those things on the internet.
When we boil it all down, the truth is that I don’t feel good enough. As a writer, my books are more than just words on a page or a screen. They’re my business. They pay my bills. They put food in my stomach. So, naturally, they carry a lot of weight for me and their success or failure is pretty much directly tied to my own feelings of self-worth. If a book bombs, rest assured that my feelings are going up in smoke with it and I’m willing to bet that readers of this blog post and other writers would say they’ve had similar feelings. In fact, I’ve talked to many who have.
So, great. We’ve established that imposter syndrome is a thing and I’m clearly suffering from it. So what? Well, it’s a lot like that image at the top of this page says. The reason I and so many others feel like an imposter is that we think everyone knows so much more than we do. The reality is quite the opposite. Maybe we feel like imposters because we’re all kind of making it up as we go, doing the best that we can and succeeding and failing and so on and so forth. Maybe we feel like imposters because we think we need to have it all figured out like we think all of those other amazing artists we admire so obviously do.
The real truth is that it’s not possible to be an imposter when we’re just being ourselves. The trouble comes when we compare ourselves to other people and tell ourselves that because they’re “better” than us at whatever it is we’re pursuing we don’t belong among them.
Actually, they don’t really have it all figured out, either and that’s something I’m still trying to come to terms with.
I don’t know that the feeling will ever go away entirely for me, and maybe it won’t for some of the readers of this post either, but I wanted to put it out in the open that if you’re feeling like you don’t belong, you’re certainly not alone. Even those of us cracking the top charts with our books feel the same way from time to time.
See, that’s the thing about imposter syndrome: it doesn’t discriminate in who it targets. New artists, established artists, and even mega successful artists have all felt it to varying degrees. So what can we do about it?
Just keep creating. Keep putting yourself and your work out there because chances are, once it’s out, you’ll find that there are people who actually like what you do and want more of it. And you’ll keep giving it to them because as an artist you’ve got that burning desire inside of you to express and create and you can figure the minutiae of it all out as you go just like the rest of us are doing.
Because when we’re being ourselves and being honest with ourselves, suddenly we don’t feel like such an imposter anymore. Suddenly there’s a seat at the table for us.
And you know what? You do belong at that particular table. So do I.
GayRomLit is an annual retreat that brings together the people who create and celebrate LGBT romance for a one-of-a-kind, must-attend gathering of dynamic, informal, and diverse fun.
Each year, the retreat rotates to a new city and hosts tons of events from raucous parties to mellow tête á têtes while still maintaining a spirit of familiarity. GRL is the place to connect with old friends, find family you didn’t know you had, and meet with both newly published and established authors in the gay romance genre.
This year’s retreat will be held in Denver, Colorado on October 19-22, 2017 at the Denver Marriott Tech Center.
For more information or to register, please visit our website: http://gayromlit.com/