Am I a sham?

Yesterday, while browsing a writers’ egroup I co-manage called Word Up!, I chanced upon a posting by friend Bernice Low which was in response to another member’s rant on the realities of getting published in a newspaper in Malaysia. One of the points, in fact the first, she brought up, hit the nail right on the head. It was that most writers endure the “I am a sham” syndrome, and that is what I still feel today despite having been published many times. From an unknown trade magazine which I thought nobody criticised because nobody read, I realised the overwhelming need for more credible ‘validation’, that what I had chosen to do for life here bore some purpose.

And then the direction of my career got sidelined, when after 3.5 years writing business articles, I could take a step on the management ladder and proceed to Features Editor at PC World Malaysia simply because the position was open. I took it, and a series of other editing jobs after that when I decided to take a leap of curiosity into the dotcom fray. During the three years, I seldom had a chance to write anything worthwhile because my time was mostly spent cleaning up after writers and making sure they got paid. Two years ago, I decided that I had enough and became a free agent. I began writing earnestly again, developing my craft in IT reporting, feature and review writing, while exploring other forms when a chance surfaced a year ago for me to write about sex and relationships in MSN Malaysia’s women’s channel.

Some time back, a prominent local journalist said that a ‘real’ writer must have been published in mainstream media, and those who have not (i.e. those who were only published online), were merely wannabes. This of course created an uproar in our little underground writing community, because many wrote for online magazines and news sources (there were no blogs then, or more like they weren’t called blogs but the odd online journal). Today, that writer is a prominent blogger, who is in fact known more for his blogs than his printed columns.

The thing here is, even having been published in mass media print, I still feel like a fraud. That’s why when I read what Bernice said about most writers enduring the syndrome, I was both surprised and relieved. Not that it completely expelled my self-doubt because I DO still have a lot of honing to do, but it has cleared away a fair amount – enough for me to take pride in my work seriously!


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