Aren’t Brains the Best?

If you’ve read through some of my postings, you know that I have been battling anxiety, depression, and insecurity for a long time. I try my best to mask what’s happening by using humor, because people seem to care more for the people who can make them laugh than the one who is always complaining about the things that are wrong.

Today, I thought I was doing pretty well. I woke up with a plan to do exactly two things today: post on my class discussion board and work on my query letter. I posted, and I opened the file to start my letter, but in both cases, insecurity took hold.

I’m pretty certain that what I wrote to my classmates is complete garbage. They’re the experts in higher education. I’m just someone who has worked in the field for 15 years and hasn’t paid any attention to anything other than my job.

With the query letter, it doesn’t matter that I’ve written a novel. It doesn’t matter that I have a pretty decent way with words. Lots of people can write; it doesn’t mean that they’re all good at it. And by they, I mean me.

I’ve dealt with imposter syndrome for a very long time. I know that I have done a lot of good things in my life, but my brain doesn’t always believe that I’m meant to be here. It doesn’t matter that I have two degrees and am a year and half out from my third. Nor does it matter that I’ve been writing both professionally and personally for basically my entire life. It doesn’t matter that I’ve worked my butt off to get to where I am today, not when I have a defective brain.

Anxiety has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. Know the movie Red Dawn? I was so convinced that the Soviet Union was going to invade the U.S. in the mid-eighties that I freaked out any time a plane flew overhead. I had acid reflux in kindergarten, because of my recurring nightmares about having to fight off Russians in my great-grandmother’s backyard. In retrospect, a repetitive dream in which I – a child – used a rusty machete to fight off Russians with machine guns is quite hilarious. But it’s also my reality.

As I grew older, and the USSR broke up, my anxieties shifted. In high school, as I spent winter breaks and weekends babysitting my cousin’s toddler, I would lie in bed imagining someone breaking into her house. I had an escape plan for every scenario my overly stimulated brain could imagine.  As a result, the lack of sleep caught up to me, and I wound up getting physically sick.

My anxiety and imposter syndrome are best friends. They hang out together and wait until I have a decent amount of confidence before attacking. I swear, their favorite activity is destroying anything positive I have built up. Which is why I’m typing this today.

I know I am not alone when it comes to imposter syndrome and anxiety. I don’t even have a surefire way to power through when they set in. I just liken them to walking. Put one foot in front of the other and repeat until you’ve gotten to your destination. Or in this case, typing one word after another until the words form a completed narrative.

What I write doesn’t have to be great right now. The simple act of getting the words on the page will be a huge accomplishment. Then, when I’m feeling like the word FAKE is no longer hanging over my head blinking like a neon sign, I’ll worry about how good or bad things are. If not, the bad feelings win. And I can’t afford to let that happen. I know that I have fought incredibly hard to get to where I am today. I can’t let a case of imposter syndrome keep me from achieving goals I’ve had my entire life.

So, enough whinging. Time to start fighting back.


Last Breath

After working on this novel off and on for nearly nine years, it’s nice to see things finally coming together. I finished Last Breath about seven years ago, but fear kept me from doing much more than editing it every now and thing. Last summer, though, that changed when I stopped caring about fear and rejection and decided to immerse myself back into the world of my private detectives, prepping this bad boy to go out into the world.

At the end of July, I started rewriting the entire thing by hand. It took a few months, but I added a completely new section and fine-tuned the original story. I may be a bit biased, but I think this final version is a pretty decent piece of fiction.

So what’s it about? Here’s my blurb:

Last Breath follows the Smiths, a pair of private detectives who have been called in to consult with the Boulder County Sheriffs Department on a gruesome murder by a sadistic serial killer. Nicknamed The Dripper, the killer savages women before tying them up a drowning them in mountain lakes near Boulder. As the Smiths investigate, Kath Smith finds herself haunted by the case, but is she simply afraid of what she’s seen, or is she about to become a victim herself?

Losing myself in the world of the Smiths, I not only finished this piece, but I also have planned at least two more adventures from them. Book two, tentatively called The New Year’s Eve Murders, is already underway, although I’ve taken some time off for my last two rounds of edits to Last Breath. My hope is to wrap that bad boy up some time this year.

Next up, I plan to start the querying process, which is crazy. I admit that I’m a bit terrified, but I’m much more confident about my writing and this book, making me feel better about jumping off into this whole publishing abyss. But if I never try, there I’ll never know for sure whether others will every get to experience this world I love so much.

So, here goes nothing.

I’m Baaaaaaack!

That’s right! I might be working full time, taking classes toward my doctorate and living it up as a married woman, but I decided that there simply isn’t enough going on in my life, so I should start writing once more.

When do I sleep? I’ll let you know once that finally happens.

But seriously, I’m actually writing because I finally decided to do something with my life…besides being a college administrator, student, and wife. I decided that it was time to do something with that manuscript I finished back in 2012. No longer would it collect dust.

Nope, I decided that it was time to take a serious look at it and try my hand at publishing it (and by it, I mean Last Breath, the official title of my novel). So, I dug it out of my Dropbox in late July and spent the following four months rewriting it (by hand, because I never do things the easy way). Since then, I’ve edited it twice, and I’m in the process of wrapping up a third, and hopefully final, edit before sending it off to a professional for feedback.

I’ve wanted to be an author basically since I learned to read. And for way too long, I let my imposter syndrome get the best of me. But now, I’m serious. Not only am I looking to publish Last Breath, but I’m also actively trying to build my brand as a writer. As a result, you’ll notice a lot of changes coming your way in the weeks and months to come.

You’ll see me using this site much more often than I have, but not just for the hilarious stories of falling down or being mistaken for pregnant when I just need to go on a diet. I’m going to be giving regular updates on the whole shebang and including fun things for those of you who want to stick around and see this thing through.

It’s my hope that you do stick around, and if you’re finding me for the first time, feel free to look through the archives and have a good laugh. I don’t mind.