In my experience, writers suffer nightmarish levels of Imposter Syndrome. When I was a child growing up in Glasgow, in Scotland, this syndrome hadn't really been named, but was an overbearing presence in phrases like 'Who do you think you are? The Queen of Sheba?' and 'Don't get above yourself!' and even 'I kent his faither.' Working class children like me were conditioned from infancy to know their place and never aspire to anything beyond that.
A big part of being a writer is imagining other lives - lives beyond the narrow constraints we and/or wider society set ourselves. And if we want our writing to be published, we have to resist Imposter Syndrome.
With that in mind 😀I'm going to tell you that 2021 was quite a good year for my writing. Wait! No, 2021 was a good year. I didn't win prizes; I wasn't lauded around the world. But I did have a good handful of publications - individual stories and poems - in a range of quality magazines and anthologies, and that makes me feel my writing efforts are worthwhile.
Poetry Scotland #102, Break in Case of Silence (NWS 39), Ghosts of the Night Shift, Wee Dreich #5, Gutter 23
While I'm pleased with all of these publications, I'm particularly happy that - after at least a dozen attempts - I've finally had a short story accepted for the very prestigious New Writing Scotland. Published by the Association for Scottish Literary Studies, this annual volume is the pinnacle for short fiction, poetry and other forms of writing.
Not only that, but the story itself - Her Body was an Aviary - is one that I'd sought a home for sixteen times before it was accepted. It's a story I've always believed in, but it obviously needed editorial distance to fully draw out its strengths. And, given there's always a subjective element to choosing items for publication, it must have needed to find the right editors, too!
Of course, I sent out far more than five items (well, six poems and two short stories). In the year, I sent out thirty-five submissions. So that's a hit rate of one in seven, or 14%. The year before that, my hit rate was about 10%. That's a lot of 'no thank you' to bolster the Imposter Syndrome, but according to Keysha Whitaker, who wrote about her study of this for US magazine The Writer in 2016, 5% acceptance is the average, with a range between 2% and 22.5%. So, hey, rejection is normal, and we should celebrate our successes without allowing ourselves to wilt under the stern gaze of Imposter Syndrome.
Incidentally, if you want to learn more about the origins of the term 'Imposter Syndrome', this link takes you to a paper written by Pauline Rose Clance & Suzanne Imes, the psychologists who coined it.