I rarely comment on pop culture, because I don't really get it. That's not a snob attitude, it's a clueless one... and I've been that way since childhood. But the video that's all over the news about the Kanye West/Taylor Swift moment at the VMA awards last night brought up something different for me... the sense that they enacted right there on the stage most authors' secret fears -- that someone will come rushing up and shout "Imposter!" right when you're ready to celebrate an achievement.
One of my friends is a judge, and even after almost two decades on the bench, he said he still sometimes thinks someone will burst into the courtroom and shout "You're not a judge, take off that robe and leave the bench this minute." Another friend reported that the night she received a major international book award, she wasn't happy, she was terrified and a bit blue for all those who hadn't won (she told me she wanted to be first runner-up). When she did get to the stage, she kept waiting for someone to say "We're sorry, there has been some mistake, that's supposed to go to a real writer."
I've felt like a fraud in public many times. Others with far more achievements than mine say the same thing. Without judging the parties involved (it doesn't feel appropriate given that I can't name a song by either artist), I will say this much: wow... watching that video was like living out my worst nightmare.
Now on to another day at Booklab where we all reassure each other that we're whatever it is we need to be (not perfect, not the living end, but good enough on most days and committed to professionalism and perspective).
Illustration by Sir John Tenniel for Alice in Wonderland.