Saturday, April 13, 2019

Imposter Syndrome Is a Real Thing, and Yet . . .

When I meet people for the first time, sometimes our conversations turn to career. I tell them I’m a book editor, and then if they’re remotely interested in learning more, we might have to first get past their idea that an editor’s only task is to find and correct typos. 

This is a little like telling someone you’re a fiction writer and they assume you write books, but you write short stories. Or they assume you write for adults, but you write for the YA market. So you tell them what you do. You say, "I write [fill in the blank]." 

But do you say it with full confidence?

Knowing what line editing is, I like what the author of this article said about it as opposed to substantive or copy editing: “Line editing skills are all about our writing—as a whole.” But may I just tell you how intimidating that statement could be to me some days, skills or no? I could easily ask myself, Who am I to give input into anyone’s writing as a whole? Someone might find out I don't really know what I'm doing!

This, my friends, is an example of imposter syndrome, and I have examples from real-life experiences, toonot just as an editor but as a writer. Maybe especially as a writer. Sometimes when I tell someone I’m a writer, the next question is, “So what have you published?” And then my answer is thin because they’re talking about work published under my own name.

Yet this imposter syndrome is by definition unfounded. It's like phantom pain; there, but not from a source that exists. And it doesn’t consider the degrees we might want to assign to it, like beginning writer or unpublished writer. It sucks up the whole of us. Yet even the most gifted, published, successful writer can take a dive into the imposter syndrome waters. We know that because some of them have told us so!

Why is it so easy for writers to say to themselves, Who am I to think I can write anything someone would want to read? I think when we do that, we’re forgetting who we are. So I’m going to be brave enough to tell all of us who I think we writers (writers because we write) are—or in some cases, need to be to fight imposter syndrome:

·       We’re people to whom God gave a desire to communicate with the written word.
·       We’re people with a story or stories to tell.
·       We’re people who will never be perfect at the craft because we always have something to learn.
·       We’re people who are probably better writers than we think we are.
·       We’re people brave enough to put imperfect work out there.
·       We’re people who avoid saying, “I write, but [fill in the blank].”

If you write—for pleasure or for publication—remember who you are, and, if you’re afflicted, kick imposter syndrome to the curb. It might not be easy, and you might have to fight almost constantly, but then again, there’s this: “Blessed are those who trust in the Lord and have made the Lord their hope and confidence” (Jeremiah 17:7 NLT). Start there.

Jean Kavich Bloom is a freelance editor and writer for Christian publishers and ministries (Bloom in Words Editorial Services), with more than thirty years of experience in the book publishing world. She is a regular contributor to The Glorious Table, a blog for women of all ages. Her published books are Bible Promises for God's Precious Princess and Bible Promises for God's Treasured Boy. She and her husband, Cal, live in central Indiana. They have three children (plus two who married in) and five grandchildren.

Saturday, April 6, 2019

Moral Fiction

In other blog posts I’ve referred to the late John Gardner, long-time professor of creative writing at Oberlin College and elsewhere, who left us several classic books on the art of fiction. His life was cut short by a tragic accident in 1982, yet his books continue to share timeless wisdom. Consider this passage from The Art of Fiction (Vintage: 1985):

The value of great fiction…is not just that it entertains us or distracts us from our troubles, not just that it broadens our knowledge of people and places, but also that it helps us to know what we believe, reinforces those qualities that are noblest within us, leads us to feel uneasy about our faults and limitations (31).

Gardner believed that all great fiction sharpens our moral sense. While he dismissed preachy fiction,  he had a keen eye for the moral purpose of an author. If he found none, he felt the author had lost a great opportunity because “the ultimate value of fiction is its morality.”

It's true: Great novels prod the reader's conscience. Great authors shine the spotlight of accountability on the reader's life. Their stories become an integral part of who the reader is.

So when we embark on the adventure of writing a novel, I believe we need to ask ourselves, “What eternal issues are at stake here? How will my characters be tested by those issues? And how will Christ enable them to come through those tests stronger, more mature, and more like Him?”

Joe Allison writes both fiction and nonfiction, and has been a member of the Indiana chapter of American Christian Fiction Writers since 2010. He lives in Anderson, IN, with his wife Maribeth and daughter Heather.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Worth the Sacrifice

“We’re admitting you.”

My fevered mind couldn’t quite process those words from the ER nurse.  They were putting me in the hospital? I had pneumonia? Me? The person who had been blessedly healthy her entire life? Any resistance to the notion of a hospital stay faded as some kind of medication was inserted into my IV, and my six-day headache vanished. 

Two days later, they sent me home, fever-free, almost headache-free, and with a week’s worth of antibiotics. My instructions: “You’ll want to take it easy until you get your strength back.”

“You think by the end of the week?” I asked.

The doctor laughed.

Hmmm. I had five days to build up strength to make it to ACFW Indiana’s March meeting. With only four meetings a year, I didn’t want to miss it. And Hallee Bridgeman was speaking about newsletters, a topic I desperately needed to improve upon.

So I rested and rested and rested, cutting my to-do list by more than half. I drank water and water and more water, and I’m not a fan of plain water. By Saturday, I figured I had the strength for the Big Outing.

Listening to Hallee was worth it. So many ideas to implement (as soon as I regain all that energy I spent at the meeting!). She gave tons of examples as to how her newsletter ideas have worked for her. She also added an hour speaking on author platform, in general. Our collective heads were spinning. 

All RSVPs showed up, plus a couple of extras. They came to Plainfield from as far away as Ohio and as near as Avon. All were inspired by Hallee’s knowledge and Christlike attitude, and they headed home, eager to practice these newfound skills. Our two newest members expressed gratitude, not only for the information, but especially for the opportunity to get together with other authors.

That’s why we meet in person four times a year. Something wonderful happens when writers gather in the same room. While our families and friends support our endeavors and cheer us on, other writers totally understand the joys and frustrations of creating story, the obstacles to gaining an editor’s attention and the euphoria upon publication. We connect. 

As Christian writers, such connections are as vital for our spirits as they are for our emotions. Of course, if I’d still been running a temperature of 103.5, it would have been physically impossible to attend. And sometimes, life crises get in the way, and all our plans blow away like dust in the wind. 

But under ordinary circumstances, whether it requires a three-hour drive or concentration to build up enough energy to leave the house, joining with other writers to glorify Christ is worth the sacrifice.

Linda Sammaritan writes realistic fiction, mostly for kids ages ten to fourteen. She is currently working on a middle grade trilogy, World Without Sound, based on her own experiences growing up with a deaf sister.
Linda had always figured she’d teach middle-graders until school authorities presented her with a retirement wheelchair at the overripe age of eighty-five. However, God changed those plans when He gave her a growing passion for writing fiction. In May of 2016, she blew goodbye kisses to her students and dedicated her work hours to learning the craft.
A wife, mother of three, grandmother to seven, Linda regales the youngest grandchildren with “Nona Stories,” tales of her childhood. Maybe one day those stories will be in picture books!
Where Linda can be found on the web: