2023: the year of the Fae

It’s been a YEAR. I got invited to send a collection of short stories to the Moon with the Lunar Codex, which kickstarted my newsletter (which is still very humble, but if you’d like to sign up, you can click here). My first ever poem publication came out in Issue 5.2 of Augur Magazine, entitled Mother/Murder.

And somewhere around the finishes touches of my Borrowed Wings and other Stories collection for Lunar Codex, I decided it was time to apply for artist’s grant from artsnb (Arts New Brunswick of Canada). The main reason for this was because the Lunar Codex had given me a boost of confidence that temporarily quieted my raging imposter syndrome. I had an idea for a novel that was timely, that fascinated me, and seemed like it would be an appropriate project.

Off I went, deciphering the mysterious ins and outs of the application process with a LOT of help from my writer friends Julian M. Smith, Peter J. Foote, Matthew Ledrew, and artist Bella McBride. I’m confident in saying that I could not have done this on my own.

This application ate up most of September and then it was off. I told myself that if all that work gave me was the knowledge of the process to try again next time, that was fine, but I kept this secret longing to write that book. It was hard to wait, but soon I was lost in the first draft of Book 1 of my fantasy trilogy idea, my imposter syndrome came back, and I tried not to worry about that grant too much.

I started writing freelance fiction, which started out as a strange new world, but then I quickly landed a decent and steady contract writing fiction full time (albeit temporarily). This introduced a whole new level of discipline into my routine, and made me pinch myself more than once. A writer, getting paid by THE HOUR. What sorcery is this?

Like I said, it’s been a year. The last six months have been amazing.

And I’m a little sad to see a good year close because the last few before this one? Yikes. But, as this year started winding down, I heard back about that grant:

So 2023? That’s going to be the year I take a deep dive into this wild Fae book I’m so glad I get to write. Inside these pages, I’m going to be exploring connections between recent technology and fairy folklore and this is going to be such a wild ride. I’m thrilled and humbled by the writers and artists who helped me with my application and with the artsnb jury who believed in my story idea and also me as a writer.

This project, The Fae in the Machine, is going to figure greatly in my upcoming newsletters. If you’d like to join me in this journey, I’d love to have you. You can sign up here and you’ll get an e-copy of my Lunar Codex collection, Borrowed Wings and other Stories, to read at your leisure.

Happy New Year everybody, make it a wonderful one.

notes on imposter syndrome

I started writing this as a note to my writer friend and critique partner, but decided to make it a blog post instead, because maybe it might help another writer, too.

Something kind of big is coming up for me (of which I will make an announcement when everything is off and running) and this something involved me writing an essay of what this upcoming thing means to me. When I sat down to write the essay, the words just poured out of me in that rare, magical way they do sometimes. When I finished the first draft, I was so excited by what I’d created, just a feeling of pure joy that those words existed in the world now. I was proud of what I wrote.

Then, I stepped away, I did some chores and cooked a meal, and noticed I was developing more of an edge towards that essay. Rather than acting on it, I left it alone, went to bed, and came back to the document in the morning.

By then I was horrified by what I’d written. I sounded like I thought I was a real writer, someone who’d worked hard and accomplished things and expected people to treat them as such. I knew this creeping, gutsick feeling, because I get it whenever I try to market myself. The difference, this time, seemed to be that I was pushing back. If I didn’t believe in myself, I definitely believed in that essay and I was too proud of it to just discard the draft and start over. I wouldn’t be able to rewrite anything equal to it.

Instead, I pulled up my writer’s journal and started writing about the feelings I was having, hoping I’d be able to pin them down and understand them better. Here’s what I wrote:

I keep thinking I should really tone this down, I’m not a real writer, I don’t deserve this accolade and here I’ve leaned into it like it’s important, everybody’s going to know! They’ll roll their eyes and laugh and kick out me out of {redacted}. Which does, now that I’ve written it out, seem a bit silly. But also probable? Yikes, this is brutal.

Wait. This… is imposter syndrome?

I’m not entirely sure why I didn’t recognize the feeling as imposter syndrome until I wrote it down. I simply didn’t. Not at all. I might have if it was a friend coming to me with these feelings, but I didn’t recognize it in myself. And seeing them there, on the page, got my attention. I mean, I have two books in the world, twenty-five short story publications, and a handful of writing accolades, nothing fancy or huge, but still things that I’ve earned and have a right to be proud of. It shouldn’t feel like a falsehood to consider myself a “real writer” just because I still have goals I have yet to meet (and don’t get me started on shifting goalposts).

Which leads me to why I thought I’d write up this blog post. The next time you’re feeling uncomfortable about promoting your work, marketing your work, preparing a speech, or writing an essay, take a moment to write down what’s running through your mind so you can see it for what it is. Read it like you’d read a message from a friend, because sometimes things look different when they’re on the page.

Photo by Engin Akyurt on Pexels.com

If you want more resources on imposter syndrome and working past it, I recommend the book Fearless Writing by William Kenower. I picked it up a few months back after hearing an interview with Kenower on The Creative Penn podcast and it helped me fix a few mental blocks that were holding me back (linking that episode here). I keep it close to my writing desk because I expect I’ll fall back into old habits and need to reread it from time to time.