03 June 2011

Friday Confession - Impostor

I spend a lot of time avoiding doing the very thing that I love most.

I know. It makes no sense.

But it's true. I alphabetize things that don't need it, I cook, I clean, I sleep, I watch tv, I surf the web. I spend too much time on twitter. I do anything but write.

It's ridiculous. I've been writing in journals and notebooks, scribbling on the backs of envelopes and bar napkins, and composing letters in my head for as long as I can remember. (Okay, maybe not the bar napkins. That was a later development.) I started this blog as a place to organize my thoughts, share my ideas, and have a living record of my experiences as a parent. I love the sense of community it gives me, the power inherent in having a voice (whether anyone listens or not) and the thrill of learning from others who've trodden the path before me or are walking by my side.

And yet, I don't write. I avoid it like... I dunno. Laundry? I hate laundry. Avoiding that makes sense.

Fear, friends. Fear is the dream killer.

It's not interested in what makes sense. It doesn't care what's rational, or even what's true. Its only focus is to prevent risk. Any risk, real or perceived. And imaginary risk is its specialty.

Fact: All my life I have longed to be a real writer.

Jebus. Just typing that out loud has made my hands shake.

So yes, I've longed to be a real writer, whatever that is. (Is blogging writing?)

I even managed in second year university to enroll in Creative Writing 100, with the intention of majoring in that or journalism. I went to the first class; it was all about poetry. We were assigned to write an autobiographical poem. The night before the class, drunk in the student pub, I dashed off a few lines of suckage and handed it in at the second class.

The third class, the prof gave a prize (one of her own books of poetry, she probably had a basement full of them) for the best poem. To me. She thought my poem was the best of what had been handed in.

I knew it was a piece of crap.

I never went back to that class again.

I haven't really ever told that story.


The tyranny of the blank page

People I respect and admire have told me they enjoy my blog. Out loud I thank them; inside my head I'm immediately discounting what they say. Based on my twitter stream, I've been told by someone who writes! professionally! that I should write a book. I joke that she's crazy. "From your mouth to a publisher's ear," I grin.

Recently at a party, I was introduced to someone as "Alexis, a very talented writer" and I almost fell out of my shoes. The Fear That Rules Me screamed, "No, no, no. Don't be ridiculous!" I managed to keep my game face on and shake hands like a normal person, but inside I was ramping up all the old arguments for why the person was so wrong.

But that moment made me pause. It's always interesting to catch a glimpse of yourself as others see you, like a reflection in a shop window as you hurry by. And in a heartbeat, I decided to stop discounting what I do and say in this space.

It's not easy.

I feel like a fool most of the time.

But the other day, as I met a friend, a writer friend, for coffee and encountered another friend, another writer friend at the same time, I introduced the two, saying "David, this is Heather. She's a writer too!"

And for a split second, I allowed the "too" to include me.

Then I did a crazy, crazy thing. A few days ago, I submitted one of my own posts for BlogHer's Voices of the Year. This one.

This is progress, yes?


  1. I'd be interested to see the poem that you thought wasn't worthy. You might be wrong. We are our own worst critics after all.

  2. Marilyn, I didn't even keep a copy. I can't remember a word of it.


  3. Alexis, dolling, this is your onti speaking. In the last week of my 22 year job as a senior administrator in a major teaching hospital, after receiving that evening the last of several awards, in addition to massive raises and bonuses for being good at it, I got up and thanked the assembled multitude for 22 years of not catching me at being incompetent. I had FELT AN IMPOSTOR - all of those years. I still feel the relief of NOT HAVING BEEN CAUGHT. I wonder how many people feel this way?

  4. I am so afraid of being discovered for being a fake. I have hrm, five different blogs. I kill them because the writing gets too hard. I'm afraid to write what I really feel. I know that the reason I had so few readers is that because my writing sucked.


    Maybe not writing is hard; the words get all jammed up inside me. I know what I want to write and maybe it will just have to be too bad if people don't like it. Maybe I had only a few readers because I hid my blogs, afraid to put them out there, rarely commenting with the URL in my signature.


    Yes, maybe not writing is harder.

    I love your voice. Please keep writing.

  5. Absolute progress.

    And I just voted for you on BlogHer. If other people want to do that, they should visit: http://www.blogher.com/things-are-true-upis

  6. I think that writing, like all art, is subjective. Just because you wrote the poem quickly while you were drunk didn't meant it wasn't good. Even if you didn't think so. :-)

    Have a great drive down to BlogHer. I may meet you there!