I felt like an imposter.
After Becoming Whole was published, concerned readers emailed me for their son, daughter, brother, or sister, asking for help. At the scariest moment, a young man killed himself between his father’s second and third emails telling me about his night drives alone in the dark, which was getting longer and longer.
I had no idea how to stop a simmering suicide. I didn’t see his death coming from his father's polite but anxious first email. I didn’t know where he was, what he was thinking or doing, or his mental state.
I wrote my story on schizophrenia, hoping to help people. Friends and parents have told me that they found it hopeful. But what then? What can one do after feeling hopeful? I felt short-sighted and useless when facing these readers with real-life problems and unable to offer concrete steps to tackle their life-and-death challenges.
The second book, I’m With Me, didn’t get many eyeballs. The story might be too familiar and predictable, and one reader said frankly, “The story itself is very interesting and sometimes even inspiring. The writing is very basic, however. A teenager would have no problem with this book. A quick, uplifting read but not an exemplary piece of literature.”
I read online somewhere that a writer can ballpark her success by the number of book copies she sells: 50 vs. 5000. If an author sells around 50 copies, that probably means that she has the support of all her friends and family. If 5,000 people buy a book, it cannot be an accident. I’m neither here nor there, having hit the 500+ mark.
In recent months, I’ve been questioning my desire to write. I may be no good at this, as a storyteller or at life lessons. Is it worth me putting all my energy and money into it?
Why did I write my memoirs? I wanted to share my take on life, living with schizophrenia, being a single woman, and being content. But as I embark on a new writing project, a novel this time, I struggle with my intent.
Why write still? I am realistic about knowing that I am not a nature. Well, I enjoy storytelling. I stop breathing when I read a book (or watch a movie) that puts me in a new world or shows me something beautiful, dramatic, or heartbreaking. I had always wanted to create something original, but now I aspire to create stories that resonate with others in addition to having something to say.
Letting imposter syndrome sits in me, I leverage it to figure out how to improve myself. First, I’m going to read the shit out of this year. (Reading Like a Writer: A Guide for People Who Love Books and for Those Who Want to Write Them by Francine Prose.) Learn new words. (Today’s word on Instagram @vocabulary.daily.words is soporific.) Write, write, write (when I’m ready again). And maybe take classes (like a real creative writing and literature program.) Yes, I’ve much more to learn about writing, the writing life, and life itself and I’m ready!