Authors in Indie Blu(e) Anthologies: Shweta Rao Garg

Shweta submitted to Indie Blu(e)’s, The Kali Project and we have a special passion for ARTISTS of her caliber; it was challenging because the series of Kali paintings Shewta had submitted were all outstanding – depicting Kali in ‘ordinary’ life in such a haunting, powerful way. We wanted to use them all but unfortunately we print in black and white in the interior of our anthologies (or they would be prohibitively expensive!) and some of Shweta’s gorgeous paintings weren’t done justice in black and white. Once you have seen Shweta’s artwork you don’t forget it. We really hope to work with Shweta again.

The Visitor – (in the Goddesses series and published in The Kali Project).
Shweta Rao Garg in front of some of her art.

Shweta Rao Garg is an artist, poet, and academic. Her collection of poetry, Of Goddesses and Women, was published by Sahitya Akademi in 2021.
Her poems have been published in Indian Literature, Coldnoon, Everyday Poems, Postcolonial Text, Transnational Literature, Muse India etc. Her poems are about her lived experiences as a woman; mythology, popular culture, love, and motherhood are recurring themes. Her poems are intertextual and layered as they are ironic.

Of Goddesses and Women is Shweta’s series of artwork where goddesses and women are depicted in ordinary urban scenarios. In these paintings, Kali does ordinary things, like visiting friends for tea, or having street food like any other woman would. This is Shweta’s way of juxtaposing the divine with the mundane. Her art or her poems on the goddesses comes from the place of intimacy, nor irreverence. At many levels, it celebrates women’s bonding. 

Shweta’s artwork can be found via her website HERE and you really should visit this site of hers, because it’s got some of her most striking pieces including the series of KALI paintings in high resolution color.

Shweta’s artwork.
The Street Food Queen – part of the Goddess Series / Shweta Rao Garg

Link to readings :

Website :

Instagram :

A section of: POETRY RISES
(For Smeetha Bhoumik)

From the ravages of Kurukshetra
It smears gold across the wheat fields
From the dungeons of tyrants
It reverberates in every street
From the shackles of the shiploads of slaves
It clanks in the beats of blues
From the gas chamber of fascists
It flies into the parliaments of hope
From the ruins of Palestine
To the lullabies of safe homes
From the crematoria puffing human lives
To the healing corridors of hospitals
Every time a heart beats its last
Poetry lives in memory

(Published in full in MUSE INDIA

The artist and poet herself.

Exert from Candice Louisa Daquin’s review of Of Goddesses and Women by Shweta Rao Garg, Published by Sahitya Akademi, 2021. ISBN : 978-93-91494-63-6 – The Divine and the Ordinary in Shweta Rao Garg’s Poetry:

The gift of reading Indian poetry in a language I am fluent in, is how much I as the reader learn from such writing. Like many outsiders, I find India and her history, absolutely fascinating, and that includes her Goddesses and the modern Indian woman. Shweta Rao Garg has brought these Goddesses to life once more in this beautiful collection. As the writer of her foreword notes: Shweta Rao Garg found in Hindu mythology, facts to ponder and dwell upon.” (x) For the outsider, who appreciates the richness and depth of Indian history and mythology, this is to be cherished.

Personally, I am a great fan of longer poetry, which many writers apologize for, when they send me books. I think there is a lot to be found in a longer poem, which is not to preclude the value of any length, as surely, it’s not the marker of a good poem. In a longer poem however, you can find an entire story and this especially lends itself well to stories of mythology, faith and Goddesses. It was one reason I liked Shweta Rao Garg’s writing for The Kali Project and I found myself enjoying what I could learn and savor from Shweta’s observations and detailing of the Goddesses.

Another aspect of poetry I am particularly drawn to, that Shweta excels in, is ending a poem softly and with gentle but piercing observation. If you imagine reading a poem out loud and then at the end of a journey through the eyes of the poet and subject, you are given something very small to focus on, it is an unintended poetic technique that balances the grandeur of the storytelling with something seemingly unimportant, that actually evokes the entire theme.

A classic example of this can be found in the first poem, “At the Hidimba Temple”:

I turned around to take a last look

At the shrine surrounded by pines,

Unassuming, aloof,

Blocking the sun.

I comfort myself to see my own footprints

Stubby, small blot on the velvety snow. (2)

The delicacy of writing where you are able to almost ‘conduct’ poetry as you would music, and make it swell and rise, and then fall softly, is quite an art and not something all can do. Shweta’s ability to convey an understanding of history and myth alongside her way with language, is exceptional and memorable.

Of Goddesses and Women is hard to define as it is far more than one genre but its all encompassing theme is that of appreciation for women in all their incantations. I find this especially valuable, given how many women’s voices have been historically muted. Shweta is the kind of modern Indian woman you hope to read, for her unfiltered recounting of the dilemma of being a woman in a world of objectification and historic oppression: “May you give me a few lines that I / May speak with another woman / May we not speak about the man / Who moves your story forward.” (“Filmy Prayers”, 62) There is an ocean of hope in these revelations as well as a sorrow in divining their truth. When paired with reflections on Indian’s Goddesses, I see a merging of the mythology of women with the reality of women that reinforces the feminine and empowers women throughout the world. We have all some part of this journey, and Shweta has a way to gift that universal message through her gentle battle cry;

I don’t resent my breast

Nor do I wish to shed them

My womb enshrines not your lust

But my poems

I stay immune to your gaze

Defiant, impenetrable,” (“Akka”, 8)

Another accomplishment that stood out for me was Shweta’s ability with English. I don’t say this patronizingly but as one who learned English as a second-language also. It is not easy to get the nuance right and even with some of the best Indian poets, there are many times a line or two won’t sound quite the way it would be said by a native speaker. That’s not always a bad thing, it can in fact be a delightful variation that imbues an Indian essence into the language. I found with Of Goddesses and Women Shweta was able to imbue her Indian essence whilst mastering the language flawlessly.

She is essentially a wordsmith with that adroit nimbleness of a true writer, able to flow words in ways someone plays the piano or harp or violin. I find reading her poetry in my head, I am moving in time to the cadence of her wordplay and it impresses me time and time again how clever she is at rendering this through words. An American (since neither of us are) might say Shweta Rao Garg is damn clever and they wouldn’t be wrong:

I wish I can slip an envelope

With a stash of poems

In your aged leather purse

If you are out of cash

You can read out a verse

And complete the transaction. (“Packets of Poem”, 74).

There is such a cleverness but it’s a really romantic kind of cleverness, not a self-satisfied kind, so you feel an openness and warmth with her wordplay. This is exactly what stood out to me when I first read Shweta’s work and I’m so glad she’s put this gift to good use in this homage to Goddesses and women, what better subject! I do not feel qualified to comment on the more cerebral aspects of the book in relation to mythology but my knowledge of and appreciation for India, its incredible women and Goddesses, was dramatically increased.

I read a lot of American poetry as part of my job but it is a true delight to read modern Indian poets, especially female. As a life-long feminist I am invigorated by the insightfulness, talent and depth of Indian female writers, not least their poets who transport me to India and help me experience both the beauty and horrors of India. I think that marriage of extremes is illustrated so well by Shweta Rao Garg who intuitively understands the layers beneath what is obvious. In many ways she has succeeded effortlessly in marrying Indian myth and history with the rest of the world, demonstrating the alacrity and vast knowledge of India’s women; “These were not the flat / Pink roses adorning Plath’s walls. / My Morning Song / Was sung by thousands of marigolds.” (“Arrival”, 25). What a barren world it would be without these powerful, unapologetic voices, claiming their over-due place within the literary cannon and improving it vastly.

There are frankly some books that are a joy to review. Of Goddesses and Women is definitely one of those books. I could easily write pages on my enjoyment, appreciation and respect for Shweta Rao Garg’s work here. She pierces the obvious with such intensity it leaves me shaking my head in wonder with a little envy and a ton of respect. There is something very edible about Shweta’s choice of words, and the alacrity of her deeper understanding of what makes us tick. It is both funny, prescient and slightly horrifying, which I think is the truest language of a poet worth reading:

i am about eating

cola and corn

in the dark multiplexes of freudian complexes

i am about clumsy, lumpy, fleshy labyrinth

about skin patterned with moles, freckles

about broken tooth, decays, flying dentures

about vision flawed and ensuing adventures. (“The Body Ordinary”, 49)

*The Kali Project: Invoking the Goddess Within Ed. Candice Louisa Daquin and Megha Sood. Indie Blu(e) Publishing, 2021.

Link to recent online poems:

Indie Blu(e) Publishing is VERY proud of our authors / poets / artists and contributors to our anthologies. We love highlighting their accomplishments. If YOU are a IB contributor and wish to have a profile here, please get in touch ( including information we’d like to promote on our website such as: Bio, photo, live readings, links, interesting information and one short exert or poem. HERE.

Authors in Indie Blu(e) Anthologies: Dr. Molly Joseph

Beyond Mist Mountains, by Dr. Molly Joseph is coming out this year, 2022.

Indie Blu(e) Publishing has had the honor of publishing a great number of internationally famous, locally respected and incredibly talented authors, poets and artists. Our series of profiles on these talented writers and artists continues with the eminent Dr. Molly Joseph whom we were fortunate enough to feature in The Kali Project. Dr. Joseph is a leader in her field and a highly compassionate human-being. It was such a pleasure to include her work in The Kali Project as her poetic voice is very well-known and much respected and as an Indian female poet she forges the way for those who come afterward. We were incredibly lucky to have a talent of her caliber in Kali and we are immensely grateful for her support of that necessary and important anthology.

Dr. Molly Joseph is a Professor and Poet from Kerala, who in addition, writes Travelogues, Short stories and Story books for children. Incredibly prolific, she has published fourteen books thus far, 12 Books of poems, a novel and a Story book for Children.

Author Molly Joseph.

She has won several accolades which include India Women Achiever’s Award  2020. She believes in the power of the word and writes boldly on matters that deal with the contemporary. She can be reached at :
E-mail – mynamolly 
Youtube –

Dr. Joseph’s 15th collection of poems Songs of Silence is with Authorspress New Delhi. It will come out this month February. Dr. Joseph is at present working on a novel, she regularly attends SAARC  Literary Meet representing India and had been to the reputed Kishtrec Festival conducted by  KISSI University, Kenya. To have a real feel of Dr. Joseph’s books you have to know the beauty and intensity of her written word and her passionate commitment to the written word. In her very soul, she’s a true poet and writer.

The Kali Project brought together some of the strongest voices in poetry from Indian poets and artists.

Molly said of working with The Kali Project:

It was a very fulfilling experience to be a part of the much meaningful Kali  Project. Woman being the creative principle of life, need this kind of highlight,  not only  to establish her  unique niche  in this world, but also to build within themselves  a self assured significance of her own  vital role in this  fast evolving scheme of things.  Such a Project turns out so seminal offering a plethora of perspectives for  woman hood.”


                                    life touches

                                     You script

                                        it out..





                                      every one

                                      every thing..

Published Books – Dr. Molly Joseph:

Dr. Molly Joseph holds a Doctorate in post war American poetry. She retired as the Head, Department of English, St. Xavier’s College, Aluva, Kerala, and  also served as Professor, Communicative English  at FISAT, Kerala. She is an accomplished bilingual writer.

Aching Melodies (2013) Poems – English Partridge – Penguin
Autumn Leaves (2016) Poems – English Authors Press New Delhi
Myna’s Musings (2017) Poems – English Authors Press New Delhi
December  Dews (2017) Poems – English Authors Press New Delhi
Firefly Flickers (2018) Poems – English Xpress Publications, Palakkad (Kerala)

Hidumbi (2018) Novel – translation from Malayalam, Xpress Publications Palakkad (Kerala)
It Rains (2019) Poems – English Authors Press New Delhi
The Bird with Wings of Fire (2019) Poems – English Authors Press New Delhi
Where Cicadas Sing in Mirth (2019) Poems – English Authors Press New Delhi
Water Sings over the Stones(2020) Poems – English Authors Press New Delhi
Adventures of Billu, Dillu and Thrillu (2020) – Children’s Story Book Authors Press New Delhi

Pokkuveyil Vettangal (2019) Poems – Malayalam Aksharasthree
Kottayam (Kerala)
Kurukiyunarunna  Mainakal (2021) Poems – Malayalam Authors Press, New Delhi
Beyond Mist Mountains (2021) Poems – English Authors Press New Delhi
Songs of Silence (2022) Poems – English (to be published in Feb 2022 Authors Press New Delhi

Dr. Molly Joseph was born in 1956 as the daughter of teacher parents, the late M.M. Joseph and the late Annamma Joseph at Kongorpilly, Kerala. She grew up among three brothers, got married to Mr. Xavier Gregory, and has a beautiful family, son Greg Xavier and daughter Sneha Xavier as well as grandchildren. She received her M.A. in English Language and Literature, took an M.Phil, and completed her Doctorate in Post War American Poetry with a specialization PGDTE from IFLU Hyderabad. 

Molly Joseph’s children’s book Adventures of Billu, Dillu and Thrilu.

Indie Blu(e) Publishing is VERY proud of our authors / poets / artists and contributors to our anthologies. We love highlighting their accomplishments. If YOU are a IB contributor and wish to have a profile here, please get in touch ( including information we’d like to promote on our website such as: Bio, photo, live readings, links, interesting information and one short exert or poem. http://www.indieblu.netHERE.

Bias in the writing and publishing world

For millennia, bias, bigotry, racism, and prejudice have been notable bed-fellows in most professions, not least the publishing world.

Most of us know women were not permitted to be authors and had to write under a male pen name if they wished to be published or taken seriously. This wasn’t so long ago.

Even more recently: The notable authoress Patricia Highsmith had to use a pen name when she published The Price of Salt (later known as Carol) which depicted same-sex love. It was felt that her reputation as an author (of The Talented Mr Ripley series, among others) would be tarnished and ruined if she were connected to a book about what was considered depravity.

Years later Highsmith went public as the author of Carol but this speaks to the epochs in time where authors are silenced or shamed for the subjects they write about or just because they are dark-skinned, black-skinned, ‘foreign’ or ‘immigrant’ and this is not acceptable to the masses.

If you don’t know this happened and is still happening then the question would be: Where have you been?

Assuming you are aware of this, let’s consider the publishing world now.

Some authors complain that only certain ‘types’ of authors are published. This can be true although it’s never a stead-fast rule. Like anything else, there are ‘trends’ and these trends dictate what the publishing world or creative world at large, are looking for. Using the word ‘trend’ implies a lesser worth and this is not the case at all. Creativity has always employed trends as certain things go in and out of fashion, all have worth (well maybe not Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and mullet hair cuts, but that’s debatable …)

Is it fair if you are trying to promote yourself as an author say, during a trend or shift in thinking/social consciousness, that would rather publish a young woman of color than a white 60-year-old man?

It’s fair because it is taking into account the decades, sometimes centuries, of oppression or erasure or invisibility of certain groups who did not get published or given equal chances.

If you are a white 60-year-old man, who may never have been racist in any way your entire life, or benefited from white ancestry at all, it may seem very unfair. Perhaps it is but it’s also fair. It’s one of those dualities. As much as it may be unfair to the person who is not given the chance, it is fair to the person who is given the chance (who would not have been previously and whose ancestors were not).

When we’re being fair, it’s never simple and it’s never completely fair. Someone tends to suffer when wrongs are righted, but the idea is those wrongs were worse than any negatives that come with righting them. Change isn’t painless.

If you perceive you are someone who isn’t the dish of the day in the publishing world, then you might well be right. The publishing world like the art world and creative world at large, is nepotistic, slightly pretentious, and definitely particular to certain shifts. Sexism, racism, ageism, ableism, they’ve been guilty of it all at some point or another, and may still be.

Even now – the number #1 best-sellers are white males. This is not because white males write the best books. It is because the legacy of oppression of other groups such as women and people of color, let alone LGBTQ+ or immigrants, is centuries in the making. So for every white male who is turned away because a publisher is deliberately looking to rebalance their scales and to some extent employ some affirmative action in their authors, there were thousands of rejected women, LGBTQ+, immigrants, and people of color turned away throughout history.

No, it’s not fair if you are a white older male and you wrote a superb book and you get turned down whilst your female black friend is published by the first place she approaches. But it is fair – if viewed in a balanced way by taking into account the oppressive history of the past. It also doesn’t mean you won’t be published if you are a white older male, chances are you will, it might not be as easy as it once was, but all doors are not closed.

We are often asked if we consider this in our decisions to publish authors. The answer is yes we do but we must continue to do better. By that, it’s not an apology because sometimes it is not easy to locate disenfranchised groups, but it should be an active-life-long process. Since our inception, Indie Blu(e) was founded on publishing those who would traditionally have been ignored by publishers either because of the material or their gender or race or country of origin or LGBTQ+ status or disability status.

Yes, we also publish folk who do not fall into any of those categories, but majoritively our authors fit at least one and often multiple categories of former (and ongoing) oppression in the larger publishing world. By being aware of this, we do not decrease quality, in fact, we believe passionately that our authors are incredibly talented and there is no tokenism or pity in our choosing their work. Even if we did a blind read, we’d choose them, because their words speak for themselves and that’s the way it should be.

However, in this world, with all its prejudices, it’s not always that way and so we are vigilant in our representation of a cross-section of diversity and talent and this includes people of every color and every continent, immigrants whether legal or not, writers with serious mental or physical disabilities, neuro-diverse writers, LGBTQ+ writers, non-binary, and many more. We’re very proud to be the house for these brilliant minds and to continually push to highlight those who might otherwise be erased. This is no longer a trend in publishing, this is the way the future should look.

If you feel you are overlooked or underappreciated by traditional publishers, consider submitting to us. HERE.

Authors in Indie Blu(e) Anthologies: Sonali Pattnaik

I’m very proud to highlight our next contributor from two Indie Blu(e) anthologies – Dr. Sonali Pattnaik is a poet, artist and academic. Her poetry and writing has been published in journals and anthologies throughout the world including: Journeys by Sampad, UK, The Indian Express, Muse India, Cafedissensus, Wordgathering, Writer’s Asylum, Women’s Web, Intersections and TheShoutNetwork.

We met Sonali through Indie Blu(e)’s The Kali Project and from the first communication, felt she had a special talent that was undeniable and striking. She’s an artist in all senses of the word, highly gifted with words, both in poetry and prose, and a tremendous creative. We were so thankful to accept her work for Kali and also for our anthology Through The Looking Glass. One thing you can guarantee with Sonali Pattnaik, she’s going to give you her best and her best will be unparalleled.

Aside being a highly accomplished scholar, poet, writer and visual artist, Sonali also teaches Literature in English in India, with a special interest in feminism, film and literary theory. Her PhD thesis explored the body politics of contemporary cinema. She is a committed mother who homeschools her daughter and tries her best to raise her with dignity, love and freedom. Sonali believes in making all voices heard and dreams of a gender-equal world. Her work often reflects this and she’s got her finger on the pulse of modern Indian women who want to see more gender-equality and will not remain quiet.

Picture of the author with her just released debut collection of poetry: When the Flowers Begin to Speak.

Sonali’s first solo book of poetry When the Flowers Begin to Speak has just been published by The Writers Workshop (India) She can be found at HERE. The incredible thing about The Writers Workshop is they create these heirloom quality works of art with each publication. This is no ordinary book. They hand-bind, hand-print, hand-write many aspects of their collections including the use of sari materials woven into the cover. As you can see by the pictures, the quality is outstanding.

She shared with us what Prof. Ananda Lal (of Writers Workshop) told her when she sent him her poetry manuscript. “I have read your collection and find it eminently worthy of publication. Its narrative nature and poetic intensity make it an arresting volume, containing the original voice that Writers Workshop has always looked for in an author […] Making it an excellent and formidable volume.” ~ (Ananda Lal of Writers Workshop). Sonali said she couldn’t believe her eyes because periodically she struggled with self-esteem issues, something she fought successfully to overcame and was plunged right back into through some challenging experiences. Renewing that self-love is an everyday practice for Sonali and Prof. Lal’s response filled her with joy and confidence.

She has this to say: “To anyone reading this who thinks that it’s not in their capacity to author a book, please know that is not true. If you wish to, then you can. The path may not appear immediately, not will it look the way you thought it would, but if you keep walking it will get you where you wish to be.”

Sonali’s recent successes included winning the Orange Flower Award for Poetry 2022 presented by Women’s Web for her debut collection of poetry.

“the falling from above
of water reminds us
that the story of water
remains half told
water gives, takes, dances
and destroys
it surrenders without
relinquishing a drop
of its power
it’s a paradox,
a talisman of
the truth in resistance “

(water’s story) – exert from Sonali Pattnaik’s poem in the award-winning anthology, The Kali Project: Invoking the Goddess Within / Indian Women’s Voices which you can purchase HERE. Published by Indie Blu(e) Publishing.

In the short time I have known Sonali Pattnaik I have seen her work tirelessly to produce her first book of poetry as well as regularly contribute to a plethora of poetry and writing in addition to working full time and raising her daughter. She’s a gentle giant, with the constitution of a fierce goddess when she speaks up for those less fortunate.

Sonali’s work is deeply politic in that she doesn’t shy away from what matters and what should be spoken about. Her striking artwork alongside her powerful writing, really make her an person to watch in the world of poetry. It’s been such a pleasure to witness this from first meeting her through our anthology KALI.

Artwork designed for Sonali’s book When the Flowers Begin to Speak, which was not used, but demonstrates her talent as an artist.

Gorgeous KALI artwork featured in The Kali Project, by Sonali Pattnaik.

Striking black and white line drawing by Sonali Pattnaik for The Kali Project.

The front cover of Through The Looking Glass, Reflecting on Madness and Chaos Within – an Indie Blu(e) anthology on mental illness.

a poem is a place for sorrow
a home in the womb of solitude
a sanctuary of broken plenitude
a palimpsest of an endless today
written upon the promise
of tomorrow”

(A Place for my Sorrow by Sonali Pattnaik). Featured in Through The Looking Glass, an Indie Blu(e) Anthology.

Sonali reading from her debut book: When the Flowers Begin to Speak.

Check out this interview with Sonali at Yugenquest:

 Sonali’s work is also featured in the anthology: ‘Of Dry Tongues and Brave Hearts’ edited by Reema Ahmed and Semeen Ali, published by Red River, 2022, and is available for sale HERE. We can attest that Red River have produced some really superb anthologies and we’re always excited to see their collections – well done to all who are in this.

Sonali’s debut collection of poetry published by The Writers Workshop (India).

Through The Looking Glass is available for purchase through Amazon (print & Kindle editions), B&NBook Depository, and Pothi (India only). Through The Looking Glass: Reflecting on Madness and Chaos Within is also available for wholesale purchase through the Ingram Group ISBN: 978-1-951724-08-5 

You can also purchase The Kali Project via these sites. Here is the Amazon link HERE.

Another poem read by Sonali from her debut collection of poetry.

Aside her website, you can also follow Sonali via LinkedIn:

Here is her link to the Writers Workshop in India, it’s an incredible publisher, check out some of the titles:

Indie Blu(e) Publishing is VERY proud of our authors / poets / artists and contributors to our anthologies. We love highlighting their accomplishments. If YOU are a IB contributor and wish to have a profile here, please get in touch ( including information we’d like to promote on our website such as: Bio, photo, live readings, links, interesting information and one short exert or poem. http://www.indieblu.netHERE.

Imposter Syndrome

Everyone is SO much better at writing than I am!

Familiar internal monologue complaint?

Felt the compassion-pressure of measuring up to others whom you believe are ‘natural’ writers?

Who do I think I am??? A fraud!

These feelings are known as impostor syndrome, or what psychologists often call ‘impostor phenomenon’. An estimated 70% of people experience these impostor feelings at some point in their lives.

Imposter syndrome can occur in any field but is especially rampant when dealing with positions in the public eye. Artists of any kind. Entertainers etc. Of course, this includes AUTHORS and WRITERS.

Why? Because when you have an audience, or if you want an audience then the feeling of being an imposter (in your own life) is more acute. It’s one thing to lip-sync in the safety of your bathtub, quite another to sing on stage or submit a book to publication or beta readers.

Most ‘famous’ authors will tell you that they’ve been there. Those that haven’t are like those outgoing types who don’t feel stage fright, there are always ultra-confident people out there, but they don’t make up the majority. Most of us have some trepidation and concern about how we’re perceived by others. It’s one thing to have some self-faith versus abundant narcissism. Imposter syndrome means we doubt our abilities and feel like a fraud. It often disproportionately affects high-achieving people, who find it difficult to accept their accomplishments. Many question whether they’re deserving of accolades. But they’re only seeing one side of the coin.

We may have a persistent fear of being exposed as a “fraud” but that discounts the fact we’re working legitimately hard at something. Why wouldn’t we feel this way about another job? Like being a nanny. It’s because of how the writing field is perceived, and the belief that only the ‘very best’ get to call themselves author. But whose rules are those? Think you have everyone fooled and ‘if only they knew’?

But isn’t that a little like trying to mind-read? Do we really think we have the power or luck to be this imposter in our own lives? Or did we really earn it? I see a lot of similarities between imposter syndrome and those high-achievers at school who would have a melt-down if they made a 98/100 on a test. Sometimes we set ourselves up for failure when there isn’t any. Other times we refuse to give ourselves credit where credits due.

So how do we get confidence to stop feeling like an imposter or cringing when we call ourselves ‘an author’ – versus becoming an ego maniac? It’s all about balance. And earning our way forward while avoiding the cult-of-comparison.

What do I mean by balance and earning our way forward?

If someone came to you and said: “I’m an author. I haven’t written anything but I’m a really incredible author.” You might laugh. But if someone came to you and said: “I’m an author. I’ve written five books. None of them have been published yet but that is my hope. It’s a tough road.” The balance of reality (tough road) juxtaposed with the confidence to declare themselves an author (on the basis of having actually written five books) demonstrates that person earned the right to be called an author.

You don’t have to be famous to be an author, but you do have to write (and read others) to claim this title. It isn’t arrogant to call yourself an author if you either regularly get published (online counts) OR you regularly write. Being something isn’t contingent upon ‘success’ so much as hard work, devotion to and commitment. You’re not an imposter if you’re actually doing the work.

For every ego-centric person who claims this title without the work, there are many more who don’t believe they have ‘earned’ the right to call themselves an author and will ponder – when will I feel I have earned the right? Ergo they feel like an imposter for claiming a title that doesn’t sit comfortably and causes them to feel a fraud. But are you a fraud if you are working towards something?

If I were in medical school I wouldn’t feel badly for saying: “I’m training to be a doctor.” The only reason you don’t say you are ‘training’ to be a writer, is because when you’re writing for a living, you’re usually past university or education and no longer in a training capacity, although in truth, you’re training your entire life if you’re a writer.

Using the language then of a writer, it’s appropriate to introduce yourself as ‘a writer’ without being an imposter, if: You write. And by writing, I don’t mean keeping a journal, or writing shopping lists or poems on the backs of stamps. I mean really writing. What ‘really writing’ means will vary person-to-person, and for some, writing all day long, may seem more legitimate than someone who only writes once a week. Nevertheless, by all standards ever held, both would be considered writers.

After all, some of our favorite writers only wrote one book in their life time yet we would never say they were not writers. Others may have written hundreds but are forgettable. Yet it is not possible to judge ‘worth’ or ‘quality’ as easily as it is to define what makes a writer. To define worth or quality is individual to a large extent, and then on another level, could be judged based on public reception (popularity, awards won etc).

We should be careful not to adhere only on the accolade a book garners. Some popular books are not any better than obscure ones. They may have a great publicist, be written by the grandchild of a famous person, have some other networking feat, possess a subject or genre that is the ‘IT subject’ of the moment or subject du jour or fit with a need at the time. Those things are all real but do not mean that book is any better than the one languishing in obscurity.

However, since nobody writes not to be read – the success of a book is its defining feature, as flawed as that may be. But an author is an author irrespective of writing one book, or a 100, of making a fortune, or earning nothing. An author is someone who is committed to the art of writing and does (write).

Next time you wonder why you are bothering to do this thing called writing, remember two things:

You are an author if you write and if you continue to write you continue to be an author. Nobody can take that away from you.

If you continue writing, your chances of being published and read, go up and up and this should be your goal: To write and be read.

Anything better than that, is icing on the cake. But you’ve already got your dream of being (an author) if you’re putting in the work it takes to be (an author). Well done!

It may be a hard graft but you won’t find many lawyers/attorneys suffering from imposter syndrome, think about that next time you do … confidence may be harder for a self-deprecating, perfectionist writer, but YOU ARE A WRITER so the idea of being an imposter in your own life, well that’s just you coming to terms with the moniker of WRITER. Why? Because there will ALWAYS be someone who is a better writer than you. Sorry about that but it’s a crowded planet and there’s a lot of talent.

Should that stop you? Did it stop all the brilliant authors you’ve read and loved? Then don’t let it stop you! The most talented person isn’t always the one who gets to the finishing line. The one who WORKS HARD and never gives up, is the one who gets to the finishing line. And along the way may surprise themselves by getting even better at what they do. It’s not about being the best. It’s about showing up and doing what you do, until someone notices.

Imposter syndrome is so 2021 let’s leave it there and get on with writing!