A couple weeks back, I got three acceptance letters in one day. I felt like the real deal, like I am actually a writer.
Now, I know I am actually a writer, because I actually sit down every day and write. That's what's important, and that's what I try to focus on, but the unfortunate fact remains that external validation every now and then feels pretty nice. Checks are nice. Seeing evidence that someone read something of mine is nice. Feeling like the real deal is nice.
I'm pretty sure I could be rich as J.K. Rowling and still doubt whether I was the real deal. It doesn't seem logical that way. Writing can sometimes be one big mood swing. Three acceptances in one day can get me floating high, and then the next day I can decide that my business plan will never work and start wondering why I haven't given up by now.
I had a funny moment years ago reading Writer's Market. That book used to have articles featuring descriptions of "My First Sale." A guy described his first sale as a stringer to a newspaper. At the time, I worked on staff at a newspaper that sounded just like the one he described. I didn't consider myself a real writer, and yet there he was talking about how excited he was to write one article for a place like that -- and there I was writing four or five a week. I had a real deal moment then, too, but it also put things in perspective.
As long as I have goals, I will always exist on a spectrum, where there are things I have done and things I haven't. If I ever really feel like I have arrived, like I'm the permanent real deal with no doubt whatsoever, that means I have no goals left and should probably retire.
That said, I like going to bookstores and seeing Cleis collections that include me on the shelves. I like getting three acceptance letters in one day. I don't mind feeling like the real deal for a minute, I just try not to let it go to my head.