Have you ever heard of impostor syndrome? Basically, it’s “the persistent inability to believe that one’s success is deserved or has been legitimately achieved as a result of one’s own efforts or skills.” I suffer from this and I think most authors do. We are all pretty much people who are writing, not for the kudos for finishing a book, but because we have these characters in our heads begging to have their stories told. It has never occurred to me not to write, but I struggled with the idea of trying to get what I wrote published. Would it be good enough? Would people want to read it? Is it just dreck and not worth putting out there?
Well, pretty much, I still suffer from impostor syndrome, in spite of having eight novels out there in the world and another on the way. In spite of doing book-signings and interviews where I am the interviewee and having a publisher who believes in me and readers who give my books glowing reviews. Maybe it’s just the way of things–when we succeed, we are never sure we deserve it or if we can do it again, although I intend to try.
All that said, I had a wonderful moment last week–a moment of recognition that warmed me to my very soul and reminded me that I am a great writer. (There, Lani Diane Rich, I said it. I am a great writer!) I was in line at Kohls, one of probably at least thirty shoppers waiting to pay and I pulled out my phone to get the Kohls app up so I could use my 30% off coupon because you know, we’re all crazy about our Kohls discounts. The lock screen on my phone is the cover of my latest novel, Christmas with You (see what I did there? A little promo with a link because you know, that’s how we impostors roll).
The woman behind/beside me tapped me on the shoulder and said, “Can I see that?” And the conversation went like this:
ME: “Um, see what?”
WOMAN: “Your phone.” She points.
ME: “Okay.” And I hold it out, Aidan and Holly in all the Christmas romance glory.
WOMAN (all in one breath): “I just read that book on my Kindle. You should totally order it! It’s wonderful! Like a Hallmark movie! Oh, but it’s part of series and you really want to read the other two first. I got the first one for free a couple of weeks ago and loved it so much, I ordered the other two.”
ME (bowled over!): Really? (Apparently she thought I was on Amazon and that was why the book cover was up.)
So my momentary dilemma–do I tell her who I am or just let it go, so I don’t sound like a conceited ass. In about ten seconds, the conceited ass won…
ME: “Wow, I’m really glad you enjoyed the books. I’m the author.”
WOMAN (who literally squealed): Really? You’re the author?
ME (pulling out the promo cards I always carry with me): Yup. I wrote those books, and some others.” (And I passed her a card.)
WOMAN: Oh. My. God. I loved those books! You wrote them? Wow… “
SECOND WOMAN BEHIND HER: “Can I have one of those?”
And that, my friends, is how I ended up giving the rest of the promo cards I had on me to about a dozen people in line at Kohls. Talk about a fabulous encounter. Husband and Son were duly impressed as have been the three or four friends I’ve told, although I haven’t bragged about it all that much until now. It was fun and I basked in my fifteen minutes of fame–never mind that it happened in the register line at Kohls. We’ll take our moments when we get them, right?
Gratitude for today: warm moments of being acknowledged for my hard work; getting settled into our new home; meeting the neighbors, who stopped by today with a tin of Christmas cookies and warm welcome (thank you, Bob and Mary); friend Charlie, who’s been dial-a-grammarian for me this week as I worked on an editing gig; antibiotics that are kicking this dang sinus and upper respiratory infection I’ve got going.
Happy holidays, mes amies, and remember to hold your face to the sun, be grateful in all things, and love well. Merry Christmas, everyone!