Today I am so pleased to welcome Matthew J. Metzger to Joyfully Jay. Please join me in giving him a big welcome!
This Sunday, I visited a new bookstore in York. (Go here!)
I wanted to check out a bookstore with a queer focus, as this is the first I’ve lived anywhere near one, and I wanted to discuss Secret Plans with the owners, but it all devolved into a lovely chat. And then the superhero running the shop said something that stuck in my head.
“The imposter syndrome is strong with this one.”
And you know what, yeah. Imposter syndrome is huge in queer publishing. I don’t know a single author who hasn’t got it, from new authors with one book and nothing in the pipeline, to big names with agents and huge backlists. I know someone who owns a publishing house who has imposter syndrome. Hell, I was talking to someone with the skill, bravery, and ability to run a cute independent bookstore who has it. It’s so prevalent that we sometimes find ourselves squinting suspiciously at people who seem just a little too confident. Why don’t they have it? Why are they so sure of themselves? It seems like we’re always asking if we’re queer enough, if we’re writing enough, if we’re good enough.
I’m not immune myself. I’ve been publishing since 2013. The first book I ever pitched got picked up by an indie press on the third try. I’ve sold thousands of books and made thousands of dollars. I may not be a household name, but I’ve carved out a damn good spot for myself.
I’m editing the fourth in a series, and my editor said, “These just keep getting better!” And I said there and thought to myself, “Are you kidding? This is awful.” It’s not good enough. It’s not important. It’s not worth it. Those thoughts are all still there. They don’t go away.
And as it’s NaNoWriMo time, I find these thoughts can be amplified. Not just for me, but for many of my friends and fellow authors that I admire. I see far more of the ‘I can’t write for shit’ posts during November than I do at the rest of the year.
So do yourself a favour. Whenever somebody raves about your work, be it in a review, a tweet, a direct message, an email, hearts on a message board, wherever and whenever they do it…take a screenshot, and save it in a folder called ‘imposter syndrome.’ Do it each and every time. And then when those thoughts creep in, open it up and read what you meant to an outside observer.
Because while we all understand books can mean the world to someone, it’s harder to believe our books can mean that to someone. But it’s true. Of course it’s true. And most of those people will clutch those books to their hearts and never tell you, so when one of them does, keep it.
And when the bad thoughts come, let those people who loved it tell you why you’re wrong.
Matthew J. Metzger is an asexual, transgender British author juggling books, an office job and a love of travel with the human need for sleep once in a while. He writes both adult and young adult books focusing on LGBT+ characters and their relationships, particularly those from the less salubrious areas in which he was dragged up over the years.
On the very rare occasions that Matt isn’t writing, he can usually be found at the gym, halfway up a mountain or collecting new tattoos. (And yes, he does have book ink…)