Why Every Author Needs Neil Armstrong

Imposter syndrome—every writer with a pulse gets it. I sure as heck do, and I’ve noticed that every single one of my author friends has been struck with it, too, from time to time. It’s when you are overwhelmed with feeling you don’t belong somewhere, even though people have invited you into that space because they recognise your credentials, talent, and [insert awesome thing here].

In the last few weeks I’ve been knee-deep in imposter syndrome. I will be sitting in on three panels at Limestone Genre Expo 2017, and though I enthusiastically entered my name for them, I’ve nearly drowned in a sea of self-doubt about my validity to attend the conference at all. I mean, I’ve only written one novel. It has cupcakes in space. I’ve edited a few manuscripts, but does that make me a person who knows things?

Then last week, too-amazing-for-words Derek Newman-Stille asked me to be the guest author on an hour-long radio show (Speculating Canada: it’s only won five Aurora awards, so, no big deal. GULP!). The topic was about writing, being a disabled writer, and writing characters who have disabilities. EEEK! I don’t know anything about that, I thought. Except maybe that I am a writer, with a disability, who writes characters with disabilities. Oh. Oh, yeah.

I’m not going to lecture you, saying, “Stop having imposter syndrome! Believe in yourself!” Instead, I’m going to advise you that whenever it strikes, think: Neil Armstrong.imposter-syndrome

Read this incredible anecdote from author Neil Gaiman (you might have heard of him):

Some years ago, I was lucky enough invited to a gathering of great and good people: artists and scientists, writers and discoverers of things. And I felt that at any moment they would realise that I didn’t qualify to be there, among these people who had really done things.

On my second or third night there, I was standing at the back of the hall, while a musical entertainment happened, and I started talking to a very nice, polite, elderly gentleman about several things, including our shared first name. And then he pointed to the hall of people, and said words to the effect of, “I just look at all these people, and I think, what the heck am I doing here? They’ve made amazing things. I just went where I was sent.”

And I said, “Yes. But you were the first man on the moon. I think that counts for something.”

And I felt a bit better. Because if Neil Armstrong felt like an imposter, maybe everyone did.

(Read more on the Official Neil Gaiman Tumblr post!)

Right? If Neil Armstrong feels like that, maybe we all do.

Besides screaming, “NEIL ARMSTRONG, NEIL ARMSTRONG!” I cope with imposter syndrome in the following ways:

  • Medicating with cupcakes (don’t judge me).
  • Reminding myself that people wouldn’t get excited by my presence if they didn’t feel I could contribute.
  • Remembering that everyone started somewhere, and even the seasoned ‘experts’ probably feel uneasy on occasion.
  • Taking a deep breath and writing down the things I do know about topics, or how I can offer something in the space where I’ve been invited (notes make me happy).
  • Reminding myself that I can learn a lot from the experience and make new contacts.
  • Realising that if everything goes topsy-turvy, I can always snuggle under my furry blankie when I get home, because it understands me.

So, I get you, fellow impostery-feeling peeps. I do. Would you do one thing for me right now? Would you take a deep breath and say it loud, and say it proud with me? Okay, here we go:

NEIL ARMSTRONG!

Ahhh. I feel better. Hope you do, too. You’re all right, and you deserve to do the thing and be the person. Okie-dokey?

I’ll try to remember that, too.

/cg

CGAuthorCait Gordon is an Irish-Canadian warrior princess and author of Life in the ’Cosm, a space opera about a little green guy who’s crushing on the female half of his two-headed colleague (Renaissance). Cait’s also the editor of the Spoonie Authors Network, a blog featuring writers who manage disabilities and/or chronic illness. She likes cupcakes.

 

I’ll be at the Limestone Genre Expo!

Limestone Genre Expo
Saturday June 3 and Sunday June 4, 2017, 10 am-5pm
St. Lawrence College
100 Portsmouth Ave., Kingston, ON


Really looking forward to sharing with and learning from other authors! I’ll be sitting on the the following panels: Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation in Speculative Fiction and Extraordinary Bodies – The Portrayal of Disability in Speculative Fiction. I’ll also be moderating a panel called When to Listen to and When to Ignore Writing Advice. See the schedule for this event!

I lost my second (or third) virginity at Can*Con 2016!

Holy stars, as Xax the Draga warrior would say in my book. It has been less than one year since I lost my virginity at Ottawa PopExpo, my first-ever con of any kind. That’s when I cosplayed as a fashionista dalek, got lost, and met Caroline Fréchette and Madona Skaff-Koren from Renaissance Press. Caroline had shouted, “Hey, I like your costume,” and that was how I found my publisher.

Sometimes I feel like Forrest Gump. Without making any kind of conscious effort, I stumble into great things. Meeting the gang from Renaissance Press last November turned into an invitation to submit Life in the ‘Cosm in March 2016, which I thought was magical. As I waited their response, my BFF Talia “The Brain” Johnson messaged me about going to Can*Con in September. I had no idea what Can*Con was and she explained that it’s a literary conference for speculative fiction in the sci-fi and fantasy genres. I thought it sounded interesting and booked an early-bird ticket.

Then Renaissance Press contacted me in June and said they wanted to publish my book. After dancing all around my house in my underwear and fuzzy slippers, I wrote them back. I signed a few days later and was told it might be several months or maybe next spring before my book comes out. That was fine with me because I was working on book two.

When Talia told me she wanted to be on a panel at Can*Con, I was a bit jealous. I wished I could participate in some way but didn’t know what to do, so I put on my pompoms and cheered my friend. Little did I know that in a few days Renaissance Press would call and tell me they wanted to publish my book for Can*Con 2016. It was an EEP! and SQUEE! situation. Let’s call it SQUEEP! (And let’s make it happen better than fetch did, okay?)

So, I went this past weekend. WOW! I could tell right away how much the organizers love this event by how well it was planned, how welcoming they were, and how happy the attendees were. Everyone seemed so thrilled and excited to be there. It was infectious.

Also, did I ever learn stuff at the panels! I wish I could have attended more of them. Laurie Stewart gave a stellar presentation about the financial aspects of being an author and the importance of incorporation. Since my small biz is incorporated, I was riveted to hear about how this applies to writers. Great tips! Angela S. Stone and fellow panellists created a safe-space for us to not only discuss sex in writing, but share our own experiences. (Or was that just me who shared personal experiences? Well, I felt very safe and respected anyway.) Talia, Caroline, Nathan Bourgoine, and Derek Newman-Stille gave a fantastic panel about going beyond the queer narrative in storytelling. As a cishet woman, I sat still and put on my listening ears. It was so informative and I’ll remember that panel for a very long time.

the RP gang!Readings were fun, too. I not only read from Life in the ‘Cosm, but I also listened to my fellow Renaissance Press authors reading their books. Caroline read from Making a Living, Éric Desmarais read from A Study in Aether, and Madona read from Journey of a Thousand Steps. On Sunday I listened to S.M. Carrière’s Sky Road Walker, Nicole Lavigne’s Phantom Sting and Soil of Truth (yay for sentient plants), and Erik Buchanan’s True Magics. The atmos in the reading rooms was so chill and funny. I could have sat there all day.

I was originally afraid that because of my spoonieness caused by my disability, I wouldn’t be able to make it through the weekend. Luckily for me, I’m an extrovert, so all these fun and friendly people were like batteries for my soul. It was heaven! Peoples, all the peoples, give me more peoples!

I am so glad that Can*Con 2016 was my first time for seeing my novel in print, signing my book, and reading in front of an audience. (Thanks for laughing, peeps. We humour writers like when people other than ourselves laugh at our work.) I am definitely going back next year. How could I not? Losing my literary-con virginity at Can*Con 2016 was well worth it. Gosh, do you think they’ll call me? Or was it a one-weekend stand? 😉

Seriously, you must attend it next year. In the meantime, you follow Can*Con on Twitter and Facebook.

Again, to the organizers, thanks for everything. We know how hard you worked for this awesomeness. Cheers!

/cg

 


CGAuthor

Cait Gordon is the author of Life in the ’Cosm, published by Renaissance PressAvailable now

A Light Bulb Went on at Ottawa Comicon

If you’ve been following this humble writer’s blog, then you know I lost my virginity at Ottawa PopExpo!  Now that I’m no longer a virgin, I went to Ottawa ComiCon last weekend with enthusiasm. Hubster and I booked all three days. strekgordon

Because of the busyness of life, I couldn’t cosplay as hard this round but I still dressed up every day. That’s one of my favourite things. I’d like to get better and better at it because cosplay is really just CRAFTS! (I am mad for crafting.)

Bruce and I primarily went to see actors do their Q&A’s, like John de Lancie, Rene Auberjonois, Billy Dee Williams, Karen Gillan, Arthur Darvill, John Rhys-Davies, and Sean Astin. It’s funny how real people seem in person. It’s as if they’re human beings like the rest of us. Who knew?

I did love when Billy Dee Williams couldn’t recall something from Star Wars and he said to a fan, “Go home and ask your dad what he remembers from 30 years ago!” Fun times.

bunnyI wanted to scour the floor for artisans in between the scheduled speaker events, but was met with mostly large commercial vendors. That was a shame for an artist like myself, but I did find a few gems. My favourite buy was this bunny by Diablo Puppets. I nearly wept with laughter at its features and even made it sing to Bruce the next morning as he came out of the shower. I need to give it a name but so far I’m calling it the antidepressant bunny.

twoauthorsBut a light bulb finally went on when I came upon writers’ booths. This time I met Aurelia Osborne at the Renaissance Press booth. It’s kinda funny because I recognized the book cover of The Admirer before anything else. (Btw, if you love Jane Austen, you must buy it. I gobbled it up!) I asked the author to sign it and realized I was more starstruck from meeting her than I was about seeing Billy Dee Williams. Soon after I was guided to the independent author right beside Renaissance’s booth. I met S.M Carrière and bought her book, Human. She was so lovely and encouraging to this poor unpublished author. I told her I’d only buy her book if she signs it and she did. #squee

So my revelation is this: I’m a super huge fangirl of authors!

As I schedule in future cons, I’m going to make it a priority to go and find all the authors selling books. It hit me that I love meeting them face-to-face, and having them sign their work. Their books mean even more to me, because I have a small insight into the person behind the story. The experience of conversing with fellow writers is precious to me. How did I not know this before?

CaitSoloI totally cannot wait to do this again and meet more authors, even if I’m dressed as Drunk Cersei, a dalek, or Han Solo with boo-boos. Perhaps these authors might never know what I really look like unless they visit my Website, but that’s OK. What matters to me is that I’ve shared a brief bit of time with them, purchased their work, and got all squeeful about it.

Until the next con!

/cg

CGAuthorCait Gordon has been a senior technical writer for high tech and government organizations. Her first novel is being sent to the universe. She hopes the universe likes it. (The second book has begun and a third will happen, too!)