Steps Towards Becoming A Real Writer

(NOTE: Based on time elapsed since the posting of this entry, the BS-o-meter calculates this is 14.472% likely to be something that Ferrett now regrets.)

I’ve discovered that my feeling of being a Real Writer is ephemeral, easily stolen.  It comes for a few minutes after I’ve been published in a nice magazine, flares for a day or two when I get a kind review, and the Nebula kept it stoked for like a month.
But it fades.  Impostor syndrome sets in.  The latest story is rife with flaws I can’t quite tease out.  Rereading this draft with fresh eyes just shows me how bad I am.  And so, inevitably, I return to being a man who writes, but not a Real Writer – a state I imagine to feeling very much like the angels do, floating above it all, informed directly by a greater wisdom.
Weirdly, the thing that made me feel most like a Real Writer this year?
In the forums discussing my latest Pseudopod story, one guy said, “I haven’t liked a single Ferrett Steinmetz story thus far, and not only did I truly despise his fairy unicorn story on Podcastle (I can’t recall the name), but I thought his author’s note was particularly arrogant and obnoxious.”
And I thought, wow.  I’m part of the club.
I mean, anyone can like a story of mine, and those who post here are inclined to tell me nice things.  Impostor Syndrome causes me to all-too-often discard those compliments like junk mail, because I can’t possibly process sincere affection for my work.
But to hate me?  I mean, not to just dislike a story I wrote, but to bump into enough of them to accumulate a dislike of me personally, and then despair as I showed up yet again?  Wow.  A guy like that isn’t going to blow smoke up my ass, since he didn’t even know I’d read his comment, and the fact that yeah, I guess I have been on the ‘Pod network enough to become an annoyingly regular occurrence made me go, holy crap, this is real in a way no nice review ever had.
Go figure.  Of course, the guy went on to say that he actually liked this story, which I found a tinge disappointing, because now he likes at least one thing I wrote and of course that must be a lie.  But the detestation?  Pure reality.  And it made me Real.


  1. Lisa Nohealani Morton
    Aug 1, 2013

    On a related note, it tweaked me in the impostor syndrome a little bit today when I discovered I am not among the Strange Horizons poets who got plagiarized recently. If I were a REAL writer I’d have gotten plagiarized, right?

  2. Norm Sherman
    Aug 1, 2013

    Hey, that guy hates me too! He used to make a regular thing of publicly trashing me on the forums over at Escapepod. I wouldn’t worry about it, he’s just some random self-loathing dick on the internet. Your work is strong, that’s why editors keep buying it.
    It’s certainly not because we like you. You’re arrogant and obnoxious. 😉

All Comments Will Be Moderated. Comments From Fake Or Throwaway Accounts Will Never Be approved.