I’m a faker. I lie in bed, the guilt building inside as it turns to liquid nausea inside my stomach. No one knows yet, just me, but they’ll figure it out soon. How do I tell them? How can I justify my actions? There’s no way they would understand if they knew the truth so I must keep up the pretence for as long as I can. It starts off with one little lie, then another to cover the first. More untruths spin from my mouth until I have cocooned myself in a web of deceit. My finger hovers over the enter button on my keyboard. If I press it, I cement the treachery for all to see, but it buys me more time. Press. It is done. Facebook now believes the lie, the falsehood is spreading and there is no turning back. Below my profile photo it reads;
Profession : Writer
It started off as a bit of fun. An ad for a women’s network looking for female writers.
“I could do that” I thought.
I penned my first attempt and within days it was live on the site for all to see. Proud of my achievement, I shared it on Facebook and drank up the praise and emoticons patting me on the back. A week later I submitted my next article and nearly fell off my chair when it was awarded runner-up for best article of the week. Adrenaline pumping, my fingers tapping away on my sticky keys I submitted yet another. This time I won! Seeing my paypal account in credit for once, I knew I was on to something.
Six months later and I’m out of control. What started as a little bit of fun has now got me meeting deadlines, pitching to editors and even contemplating NaNoWriMo. Strangers ask me what I do and I reply
“I’m a writer.”
Except I’m not. I don’t feel like a writer, I don’t look like a writer and I certainly don’t know any of the jargon (except NaNoWriMo which is a writing-every-day-thing that proper writers do in November, I think). I don’t have a desk, I write on the spare bed without any socks on. My laptop is on it’s last legs, while I yearn for a Macbook like real writers have. My bank account is empty and my notebooks are scavenged from the reduced shelf in Tesco’s Back to School section. My debut novel is still thoughts running amuck in my head, usually at 3am when I need to sleep. I even joined a writers group on Facebook, only to be left on the verge of tears at being so out of my depth.
But people still think I’m a writer. They think I earn lots of money. That I sit chewing on a 2b pencil in my garden while scribbling down an endless, no-thought-required stream of consciousness. I even had a friend of a friend ask me for advice on becoming a writer. How the hell do I get out of this one? In the end I gave her some links to the only resources I know and gave her the same response I got when I asked… figure it out yourself, I’m too busy being a (fake) successful writer to help you.
I know what a real writer looks like. They have tidy desks, perfect headshots for their online portfolios and well known clients (but they don’t name-drop because that’s not what real writers do). Scanning the content-mills and freelance sites I dare myself to sign up and hope someone will pay me to write. I’m at the bottom of the writer’s heap trying desperately to climb to the next foothold. Just one more article and I might get paid. One more site to make my portfolio look half decent. One more and I can pay my bills. One more and I will be a real writer. Until then the lie continues.
I’m in so deep I gave up my art business. I work thirty-plus hours a week writing, reading, taking online courses to develop my craft. I look back at my first articles, ashamed at the quality of my submissions. The lie is spreading into my home where there is a pile of writing magazines slowly growing on my bookshelf (in full sight of any visitors to avoid any suspicion). I follow the advice in an article on how to pitch an idea and I am rewarded with yet another unpaid gig. But no one needs to know it’s unpaid.
Sitting on the spare bed without any socks I start writing. This time I write my confession. I’m a faker.
I wonder how long I must fake it before I can finally call myself a real writer?