Ego Death vs. The Fraudmonster

One of the most debilitating emotions in my legion is the feeling that I'm a fraud. The Fraudmonster can shut me down completely, even where I know I'm authentic and have put in the work.

The definition of fraud we're working with here is not the criminal version, though we may find weapons against it in those parameters. Oxford says:
1.1 noun, A person or thing intended to deceive others, typically by unjustifiably claiming or being credited with accomplishments or qualities. 
'mediums exposed as tricksters and frauds'
I know a lot of miscellany; Tim used to call my random facts "sixteen-penny nails" because I once popped off with the term and he demanded to know why. Here's why: I worked in construction when I was 18, sweeping slabs and keeping sites orderly-looking from the street so prospective buyers wouldn't be put off by disarray. It was a low-paying job, requiring little more than arms and  working definition of "orderly". I also hung sheathing for cash when the carpenters preferred to sit atop the frames and party. Occasionally one of them would lecture me on things like standard 16-inch centers vs. saving money by spreading the studs as far as possible without destabilising the wall.

I don't claim to be a carpenter, but I know when to get out that ball peen hammer.

Fraudulence was a major faux pas for my generation, but peer punishment was unclear. In private circles, locker room talk, one comrade or another would be labeled a bullshitter; everyone still hung out with him, though. To have fingers thrust at me with the word was terrifying as a child. I don't want to be a fraud. But if I am a fraud, how will I know? Everyone's just going to snicker and move on. Who knows what I'm missing out on by being thus labeled behind my back? WHAT ARE PEOPLE SAYING?

The power of the Fraudmonster lies with how others perceive me, and there's little that can be done about what another person thinks. Isn't fraudulence an attempt to manipulate how others perceive me? So if I try to set the record straight, might I accidentally commit fraud? Might I intentionally commit fraud if I let on something about myself without clarifying, if nobody asks for clarification like Tim did?

I think the difference is whether you are trying to get something for nothing or just stuck your foot in your mouth. Cut yourself a break, or call yourself out. A fraud is a thing; I am a process. I continue, where a fraud remains static, stuck in time.

Words are slippery. The Fraudmonster is also slippery. Give yourself a fair assessment, and work on what isn't up to your personal measure. Don't worry about everyone else's yardsticks. Those who seek truth will find it.


  1. I shocked a group of aspiring authors by telling them, straight out, that I suck at writing short stories. Flash stories are great! I ace them, but actual 12 to 13 page fully developed short stories either become novel length or cease to exist if I am to write it. I totally admire authors who do that well, and Deb, you are one of them. Relating this to what you have just written above, the shock came NOT because I suck at writing actual short stories, no one in that group will ever see one of mine, they are safely "in progress" or "disappeared," but because I admitted it. That is just not done.

    1. Mari, I totally understand this phenomenon. We see this play out often in my awesome writing group. In fact we sometimes inform the author that this is going to be longer than he or she thought, and in fact we sometimes start guessing how many sections there will be, even if the author is sure there will only be four. Sometimes it is useful to write too many words with the intention of cutting some out, but sometimes that plan backfires and all the words actually pertain to each other. That gets awkward, man.


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