Last week I talked about my writing process, but I have a confession to make. I omitted a significant aspect of said process. I know, I know, I’m a monster. The sordid truth, however, is I did not omit something that actually helps me. What I decided to ignore was one of the most powerful forces affecting my writing: imposter syndrome.

For those who haven’t heard of it, imposter syndrome is a constant, persistent feeling that you are a fraud. That you don’t belong or that you don’t deserve your successes. That you either got through due to sheer, dumb, luck, or even a subconsciously malicious, nigh-paranormal skill at deceiving people.

It’s not rational. I know that. That doesn’t stop it from living rent-free in my head, however. For me, it basically presents as an unshakeable feeling that people are just being nice to me due to some strange feeling of obligation. Combined with my avoidant personality this means it is really, really hard for me to believe that what I do is any good. And even harder for me to express that fear to people.

For as long as I can recall, this has been my entire life. I’d work on world-building, stories, comics, and more without showing them to people. Some of them I did share; I had a rant-filled blog back in high school and a fairly terrible sprite comic that I like to think were at least slightly amusing to my friends. As I got older, those fears and worries grew and grew, to the point where I stopped sharing anything I was really working on.

I’d put on a game face and post snippets here and there, but that was difficult and tiring. Most of the time I didn’t bother. I figured people were too busy with their own stuff to care about mine. This is true of any Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or any other post I’ve ever made as well.  Anything of mine that you have read has been difficult.

Pallas Lost represents what I hope is a paradigm shift in sharing. I’ve been sitting on the idea for the Fifteen Systems universe for over a decade. The rational part of me is agog at how long it really has been in the works. Getting down to brass tacks, I’ve had a sci-fi novel percolating in my brain for almost 30 years. I used to draw detailed diagrams of ships and laser guns, even theorizing how to make a “blaster” or “lightsaber” work in real life.

You can definitely see that I’ve wanted to be a writer for a while. And, dare I say, to become an author. The difference to me being an author is a published writer. That’s why I clung to traditional publishing as a long as I did; I was seeking external validation that a “professional” thought my work was good enough to release into the world. I low-key had the feeling that it was the most “valid” way forward.

During my year in the querying trenches suffering the endless onslaught of rejections, I had a lot of time to think. I also had a lot of discussion with my writing group, and Nikki, about what to do. At my one year anniversary of querying, I made the decision to switch tracks and self-publish. I knew that the longer it took to get anything other than a form letter rejection, the more that self-loathing imposter syndrome would grow.

So Pallas Lost is in many ways a figurative middle finger to all the unease and frustration borne from the unbearable weight of massive doubt. I still don’t know if it is good. But thanks to the encouragement of my wife and the dozen or so people who have read it, I am trying really hard to trust that it is.

It’s a struggle. Daily. I fought with myself on posting this blog. I’ll fight myself next week too. I’ll be posting blogs and short stories and world-building essentially while under duress. The key though, is that is okay. I need to challenge this feeling in order to find a way through it.