Dealing with feelings of inadequacy

It’s just 10 hours before my new storyletter Tall and Tiny Tales goes live with its first episode and podcast.

I think I’ve done my groundwork well: it’s a good concept well-executed, with some strong material … I think. My attempts at promotion have been moderately successful: I have over 60 subscribers on board. That’s not a bad start!

But what if it’s crap?

Will I see my subscribers desert in droves?

Who am I to think that I can reinvent myself as a fiction writer anyway?

Am I making a fool of myself?

Similar thoughts are often at the back of my mind when I try to do something that I haven’t done before.

I felt them when I was a postgraduate writing my Ph.D., submitting papers and book reviews to academic journals.

I felt them as a young editor in my first job, dealing with senior management; in my second job, representing my company in its dealings with a partner company in Germany.

I felt them as a young freelance writer, telling potential clients at book fairs ‘Sure, I can do that.’ Thinking all the while at the back of my mind: ‘Can I do that? I don’t think I can …’

I always could. I finished the Ph.D.; earned respect in my work; won clients; established myself as a professional writer.

I often felt this self-doubt in my social life as well. I frequently felt unattractive, uninteresting, unlovable, particularly as a young man.

Yet many women (and a few men) liked me, some loved me more than I deserved. My wife has, unaccountably, stuck with me for 28 years and counting.

Still I schlep around a great load of self-doubt.

But hey, don’t most of us? I tend to find people with apparently unshakeable self-confidence obnoxious and … dull. Moreover, if we’re not exposing ourselves to the possibility of failure, maybe we’re just not trying hard enough.


If Tall and Tiny Tales is a success or a debacle, I’ll learn something. It’s the experiences in between – the ones that are a little bit ‘Wow!’ a little bit ‘Meh …’ but mostly ‘Eh?’ – that are hard to interpret, hard to learn from.

Then, sometimes, there is no usable feedback at all. I expect you too have had the experience of publishing a piece of work that you’re really proud of, sitting back waiting in anticipation for your readers’ reaction and …

/*crickets*/

Was it the wrong time of day to post? Has there been a sneaky change in the algorithm? Was it just bad luck? Or is there something off about this piece that I was so pleased with?

We rarely get a clear answer.

I wonder how the new venture will turn out? It will, at any rate, be interesting. Wish me luck!


Featured image by sydney Rae on Unsplash

2 thoughts on “Imposter!

  1. Lol, you bring up a great point of the writing life. Sometimes, I pour my heart and soul into a post and get radio silence. Then there were times I bashed out a first draft while drunk, not bothering to edit, and everyone liked it. I’ve since given up on external events, and am learning to attach meaning to the effort instead, as cliche as that is. Anyway, thanks for this post!

    Liked by 1 person

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