When I was part of the Positively Positive B-School Mastermind, we were fortunate to have calls with special guest mentors like James Altucher and Jennifer Pastiloff. Our mentors encouraged us to be authentic in our writing, expressing what was closest to our hearts.
Jen Pastiloff challenged us to share our vulnerabilities through our writing. She told us we would find our people, those that would enjoy our words the most, by being honest about our challenges. Writing openly about things I would normally tuck away in my closet full of skeletons was miles outside my comfort zone.
I thought for days about the advice given by Jen and decided I should take it, even if it was embarrassing and awkward to be so exposed. I sat down and wrote a blog post to submit to Positively Positive, revealing a story my family and friends had never heard before. When I Was Employed But Homeless hit the Internet, I was amazed by the supportive responses both from friends and strangers.
Jen’s Book Tour
I continued to follow Jen Pastiloff on social media. She mentioned a few months back that she was launching a book tour in support of On Being Human. I checked the dates and I was thrilled to see that she would be coming to an independent bookstore in my city.
I marked the date on my calendar and was looking forward to the event. I wanted to buy a copy of her book from the local shop. When I got it signed, I wanted to thank Jen in person for encouraging me to be a writer.
Panic Sets In
The day finally came. When my calendar reminder popped up on my phone that morning, fear kicked in out of nowhere.
Who was I to thank her for encouraging me to be a writer? I didn’t have a publishing deal; in fact, I just got a big fat rejection on my non-fiction proposal. My fiction book isn’t finished.
Once the anxiety kicked in, it kept going. I hadn’t submitted potential blog posts to any websites this summer. I still had a full-time day job, so I’m clearly not a writer. I earned $2 last month from all my books on Amazon; those were probably purchased by my parents. My new website barely has any content on it. My following on social media is tiny. I’m not a real writer.
Real writers have followers. Real writers have publishing deals. Real writers can earn a living from their work. Real writers have brunch with Stephen King and go bowling with Elizabeth Gilbert. I’m not a real writer.
By the end of the day, I had talked myself out of going to the bookstore to see Jen Pastiloff. In my overactive imagination, I could see Jen stopping mid-reading at the podium to point at me in the back. “You’re not a real writer!” imaginary Jen shouted, and the imaginary audience agreed.
The next day, I woke up wondering what happened. I realized I’d been temporarily overcome by impostor syndrome. I let the voice of irrational fears keep me from meeting one of my mentors.
I thought through what I needed to do the next time the wicked voice of impostor syndrome speaks, because it could rear its ugly head anytime. I need to remind myself of the facts: I write at least five days every week, I have books on Amazon, and I have a few followers that aren’t related to me. I’m a writer. You are whatever you are passionate about: a runner, a potter, a chef.
I also need to enlist an ally. I haven’t decided who it might be, but I need to be able to text someone and say, “Hey, I don’t believe in myself today.” I don’t want anyone to fill my phone with compliments, but sometimes I need to be reminded of the facts. We all need a support network. We all need our people to have our back.
Tell Jen Pastiloff I’m sorry I didn’t make it to see her in my city, but someday when I’m on a book tour, I’ll extend an invitation to her.
Kat Craig is a writer and karaoke mic hog in Asheville, NC. Her books are available here Join the email list for a free story! Follow Kat on Instagram and Facebook for writing updates and too many photos of her pets.
Image courtesy of Avel Chuklanov.