Just Who Is Writing This?

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So I continue to edit A Bridge To The Quiet Planet, where internet using gods, ancient orders of monster hunters, and trains on spirit-possessed tracks collide.  After the collision they exchange insurance information and complain behind each other’s back.

I found the editing felt  strange, odd.  There were parts I hated or even dreaded – which is entirely unfair to my incredible editor.  Thanks to her work this book is literally twice as better as I had created at the start.

Now you know me, I have to analyze something when I don’t understand it and figure it out.  Oh, and share it with you, my fellow creatives.

Why did I have this dread of editing?

I began analyzing these feelings and realized my basic worry was to find the book was an unsalvagable mess, that it would be impossible or too much effort to fix it.  Now my editor is all about pushing people forward – if the book had been a mess she’d still have left me enough comments to demessify it.

That’s when it struck me – my worry was that I couldn’t write it and couldn’t edit it.  In short – I had Impostor Syndrome.

I began to realize this strikes a lot of writers I see.  We’re there, writing away and are still convinced we’re not writers.  We think:

  • “My work is flawed so it’s not any good” – all work is flawed, so you keep at it and get better.
  • “No one cares about my work” – Someone will always care.  If you do, someone else will.
  • “I don’t have a specialty” – Well, fine, good, you’re broad.
  • “I’m only good at one thing” – That’s fine you, you’re a specialist.

Why is this?  I find two reasons.

First, writing is not an exact science unless your subject is very exact and like a science.  Because of this there’s no exact way to know you’re doing it right and certainly no way to know you’re doing it perfectly.  This makes it easy to imagine all the things you could do differently and never think of “right enough” – or developing your own standards.

Secondly, writers are imaginative.  We can come up with all sorts of ways to decide how bad we are.  We turn imagination on ourselves.

But a writer is someone who writes and improves.  If you do this, you’re a writer.  You’re only not a writer if you quit or stagnate.

Realizing this, I felt better. I’m going to do what I always do – forge ahead and write and get better.


-Steven Savage