I'm a fraud.
Those three words, or a version of them, go through my head almost every time I sit down to write. Because the honest truth is that 99% of the time, I don't know what I'm doing. When I manage to write something good, it seems like the most fortunate of accidents, as if I put a cake in the oven and out came a new handbag full of cash and fancy hand lotion. I look around suspiciously, scratch my head, and think well, that was... strange. But, YAHOO! A HANDBAG FULL OF CASH AND FANCY HAND LOTION!
I guess that's why I continue to take great comfort in my self-proclaimed title as a would-be writer. I invoke that word, would-be, because it excuses all manner of writerly sins--run-on sentences, missing words, misspelled words, excessive comma use, and extreme avoidance of semi-colons. You know, those mistakes that "real writers" never make.
To be perfectly honest, I've forgotten so many of the grammar rules I used to know, and some I blatantly ignore because they make me feel backed into a corner. Several years ago, when I really fell in love with writing, I threw caution and grammar to the wind and just wrote. And I liked how it felt. I adopted the term "would-be writer" and gave myself permission to enjoy the process without any stress over the rules. I imagined that as a would-be writer, I could enjoy the thrill of standing over a rocky cliff, dangling my participles, feeling the wind rush through my hair without penalty. If only I could remember what participles are.
Years later, I get nervous when someone says something nice about my writing because I feel like they should know the truth, that I'm a fraud. I'd hate to gain a reputation as a writer, because sooner or later everyone is bound to find out that I'm only impersonating a writer. There are strict laws against this. What if the real writers found out and ganged up on me, beat me up, and took away my new handbag with the cash and fancy lotions? What if Nancy Grace caught wind of my sham? She scares the hell out of me. Better to lay low, that's what I say.
See? Writing makes me crazy.
But it also makes me sane. Which is why I spent all day wrestling to write this, because I have to get this schloppy cake batter out of my hair and into the oven.
I know I'm not alone. Do you feel like a fraud sometimes? How do you fight it?