Well, after having the cover to my book as my phone background since November, I finally changed it earlier this week.  I tend to change phone backgrounds pretty frequently, so my dedication to the book cover background was unusual.

I switched to the image above, a sketch by the artist Nick Derington.  A quick perusal through his website – especially the sketchbook section – was pretty inspiring and impressive.  I love the guy’s art style.  Reminds me quite a bit of Chris Samnee or Darwyn Cooke.

And his stuff makes me extremely jealous.

I mean, that Batman image is a rough sketch he did with a ballpoint pen.  My finished art has never looked that good.  Never will.  Part of me is so envious of his talent.

It’s the same way with lots of authors, too.  I read their work and I’m jealous of their talent, their skill, their ability to craft a story or a character or even just a line of dialogue.  “I’ll never write anything that good,” I say to myself, discouraged and deflated.

Here’s the thing, though: everyone who does anything creative or artistic feels that way at some point.  When someone as talented and well-regarded as Neil Gaiman can still experience impostor syndrome, you know it’s a worry that weighs heavily on all of us.

So I constantly have to remind myself that someone else’s skill does not detract or reduce what I do.  I think back to a thing I heard, years ago, about music: every song is someone’s favorite.  By correlation, every book or comic must be someone’s favorite, too.  So, while there’s folks out there who absolutely love that image of Batman up there (like I do), there’s probably someone out there who prefers something I’ve drawn.  For every fan of Neil Gaiman’s American Gods, there’s someone out there who loves some other book more (maybe even my book, though I’m not so full of myself to think that’s actually true).  Hell, there’s probably even someone out there who likes the “song” (and I use that term loosely) “Revolution #9.”

Am I still jealous of Nick Derington’s skills?  God, yes.  Am I going to let that stop me from creating my own stuff?  Hell, no.


Like so many other creative-types, I suffer from something called imposter syndrome.

It’s not a real, DSM-V disorder, mind you.  It’s just this feeling that many authors, musicians, artists, and creators have, this sense that you don’t deserve any respect or admiration for the things you create.  It’s this belief that folks are going to figure out you have no idea what you’re doing, that you’re a fraud only pretending like you know how to do this thing you’re doing.  And when they find out…well, they’ll expose you and decry you and exile you from society.

It’s a very frustrating, debilitating sensation.  It can cause you to hesitate, to consider yourself worthless (or at least worth less than you actually are), make you feel like you don’t have anything worthwhile to contribute.  It can stop you from doing the things you want to do, prevent you from putting yourself out there for fear of rejection and disgust from your audience.

Rejection may not even be the worst of it.  People hating something you’ve created is at least a reaction.  What feels worse in a way is the absence of any reaction: silence.  No one reacting one way or the other.  Feeling like you’re shouting out into an empty void, with only the echo of your own voice returning in response.  It’s a different type of rejection, one that’s harder to deal with in many ways.

I’ll probably always feel a bit like an imposter, no matter how successful I end up being in my endeavors.  It’s part of who I am.  In a way, it’s not a completely bad thing.  It pushes me to be better than I am, to work harder at my craft and learn from my mistakes.  It keeps me from becoming too complacent.  I just have to remind myself that these things I do – my writing, my songs, my comics – are for me.  The fact that some other people may also like them?  That’s just frosting on the cake.

The Quiet One

I was a quiet kid.  Spent most of my time reading books, as shocking as that may be.  Sure, I could get loud and boisterous when I wanted to; my brothers and I were famous for yelling at each other when we were fighting, which happened pretty frequently.  But, on the whole, I was a shy, introverted individual who spent most of his time lost in his own thoughts.

It’s kind of bizarre, therefore, that so many of the things I enjoy doing now are performative.  I mean, I spend my days teaching, which is 90% performance, 10% planning, and 5% knowing when to pick your battles (those may not add up right; I teach history, not math).  In my free time, I’m either drawing, writing, or playing music, all of which I end up putting up on the internet somewhere (or sending off to my publisher so she can get books made out of it).  It’s like, in order to balance out my natural inclination to be withdrawn and isolated, I’ve chosen to put this massive chunk of who I am – my creativity and my effort and my enthusiasm and my dreams – out there where anyone can criticize it however they want.  I don’t know if I’m just masochistic or what, but it’s a little odd.

I’m still a rather quiet person.  I can spend hours not saying a word, or hours talking non-stop, depending on my mood.  For instance, on the morning I’m writing this, I’ve said maybe two dozen words since I got up.  I may end up talking a lot more when my students come in, or they may spend the period working quietly and independently on their assignments.

All I really know is, you have to watch out for the quiet ones.  We contain multitudes.