(That’s *definitely* a word and *definitely* the right way to use it.)
For the first time in my life, and certainly for the first time in my editing career, I am learning to fight that most dreaded of beasts: imposter syndrome.
Imposter syndrome is a bastard. It is the thing that sits on your dreams, squashing your potential. That fear that paralyses you, constantly whispering in your ear that you’re not as good as you think you are, not as good as you need to be, not as good as everybody else, and it’s only a matter of time before somebody finds that out and exposes you to the world.
But lately, I’ve found that those whispers are getting more muffled, that that choking fear seems a little less stifling. A few things have contributed to that – some good feedback on my work, getting good results on some tests, knowing more answers to questions, realising that everyone else feels it too. But there’s also been a shift in my mindset, caused by a few times recently when clients and colleagues have actively sought me out for something. Not sought “a good editor”, of which I am but one of many, but *me*. Because of connections I had made, or because of the impression I’d made on people in various different arenas (usually by spending too much time making jokes on social media).
This has brought me to a bit of an epiphany. Because, as Chesney Hawkes once said (written for him by Nik Kershaw, who I only mention here to make my husband happy, because he was his childhood idol), “You are the one and only you.”
Imposter syndrome is helpless in the face of a situation where there can be no imposter. Who is better at being me than me? There are other editors out there. A huge number of them are as good at editing as I am. A significant number are better. But none of them can offer what I can offer, which is *my* service.
It sounds ridiculously arrogant, I know. But here’s the thing – we all bring something unique to the table, and those unique things are what make us the right fit for different authors and different manuscripts. I would be an absolutely disastrous fit for an author who wants an editor to conduct themselves with detached, elegant formality at all times. But I’m a great match for an author who wants an editor with a sense of humour and a very good knowledge of swearing. Similarly, my editing style might be too hands-on and interventionist for some authors. And that’s cool. Yes, I can be flexible about the way I work when needs be, but generally, my clients get the best out of me when I can just be myself.
So that’s what I’m selling. Just me. Forget trying to measure myself against other people – I’m just going to concentrate on improving my skills and making that me the best editor she can be. Because no one can be myself like I can (thanks, Nik and Chesney). And if I ever do find someone who can, I’m going to write that shit down and make a really creepy novel out of it.