I recently took part in a small romance writers panel at a local library. They asked my writing group if we had members who would like to participate, I jumped at the opportunity to 'get my name out there', but as I sat at the front of the room with three fellow published romance writers I had an overwhelming feeling of inferiority.
They were all with well-known 'big' publishing houses. I'm with an obscure small publisher. They have full-length novels. I have short stories.
They are published. I am published. Yet I felt like an imposter.
Ok, I'm not the most committed writer and could probably hold a world title in procrastination but I've put words on paper. I've finalled in a few competitions. An editor thought my work worthy of public consumption. Yet somehow I still feel the need to compare myself to others. To measure my achievements and find shortcomings rather than seeing them as proof of my ability and success.
The perceived stigma that e-publishing certainly had years ago has pretty much disappeared, especially with so many 'big' publishers now embracing ebooks and shorter story lengths. Romance today is such a melting pot of big, small and self-published. Novels, novellas, short stories.
If I happen to tell someone I'm a writer, and they ask if I'm published, I say 'yes'. I don't get asked 'who with' or 'how long is your story', so why is it such a big deal in my head? Why was I sitting on that panel, feeling like I didn't have a legitimate right to be there? That I had 'aspirations above my station'.
I know I don't need to become a New York Times best-selling author to feel I can truly own the title of 'published author'. None of my fellow-writers have ever made me feel less of a writer because of my (self-perceived) more meagre publishing credits. Nor do I feel that way about other writers
I have come to view my feelings on that night as a wake-up call for my self-esteem and self-confidence (particulary as I am now venturing down the self-publishing path). To quote that well-known ad 'it won't happen overnight, but it will happen'.
In the meantime I know I can rely on my fabulous writing group for reality checks. At the MRWG we have a running joke that if someone makes a self-deprecating comment about their own writing, or their ability, someone else will say 'stop talking like that or I'll slap you'.
Andra is re-releasing one of her short erotic romance stories – Miss Blaine's Misconduct.
Available now at Amazon.