“They” say that the hardest part about being an author is actually getting the manuscript on paper. To type up a full length novel (in my case, approximately 108,500 words) that you spent hours (turned into days turned into weeks turned into 3 years later…) on is, in my opinion, no small feat. Even if I didn’t plan to try and publish my book, I still feel immensely proud of the hard work I’ve managed to achieve. As my best friend/editor put it, “You wrote a freaking book. That’s not exactly an easy goal.”
Each new person who learns I’ve written a book is always surprised, as though it’s rare to find writers in their circle of friends (perhaps it is; writers, I’ve found if like me, rarely leave their hobbit holes). Each person I’ve told is always really supportive, too. Not just family members, either, but coworkers and friends who, despite perhaps not being into my genre of writing, always volunteer to read it or buy a copy when it’s available for purchase.
For me, the hardest part so far hasn’t been the writing. It took me a while, but I achieved my goal of finishing my book. It was, while time-consuming and frustrating, a worthwhile experience that I hope to learn from as I continue writing other books. I already see ways to develop characters or ask myself questions or even just plain establish a better writing plan. (I bought Scrivener this weekend and I am in love with its planning processes.)
So here’s the thing–I’m no chicken. I’ve been nearly fearless for almost my whole life, my slightly safer and more logical side coming out as I get older. My confession? I am effing terrified to send my book out to people. Obviously, this isn’t going to hinder me, but you better believe there’s a lot of “oh my god’s” and clicking “send” while squeezing my eyes shut tight to prevent my turning back. Like, I’m a freak. I sent off a copy to my author friend Courtney and even after her very positive feedback with the first half, I still spent the weekend rereading my story, making sure I hadn’t missed something and that it made sense. I was so desperate to please her (I love her and her books!) and so scared to death that it sucked. And when I emailed a PDF copy to my coworker as a beta reader, I told her several times, “It’s just fluff; don’t take it seriously; it’s just…” and a handful of other excuses to explain why it might not be the book for her if she doesn’t like it. She’s a smart, well-read, close-to-being-English teacher, so the fact that she has a copy in her hands is slightly scary, because now it’s REAL.
I’m pretty lucky in life. I’ve worked hard, won some awards, and have been told on several occasions that I possess talent. Yet no matter how often I’m told this (and no, not just by my mom, you jerks), I still doubt myself to the brink of insanity. I’ve never felt my good is good enough, even when I have nothing left to give. Perhaps it’s some childhood problem my future therapist can define, but until then, I’m a big pile of nerves when putting myself out there.
And that’s exactly what it is, right? As authors, as lovers and creators of our own worlds and characters, by agreeing to publish (in whatever way), we’re choosing to put our beloved work out there and hope to a god that someone else might love our make-believe world as much as we do. I figure if even one person (not counting my mother, best friends, or husband) finds joy and escape in my story, then I’ve achieved something I didn’t know was possible. I’ve never wanted to write for money or fame–I just wanted to let someone connect, to believe in something too extraordinary to exist in real time, to escape their own realities for a while. I read to escape and I hope I can give someone a free (ok, $0.99) mental vacation, too.
I already fear the first poor review, the 1-star, angry reader who feels they’ve wasted time and money reading my creation. It scares me to death and I know I’ll probably cry the day I read the review. But no matter what, I’ll keep writing and putting things out there because my hope is that for every one annoyed reader, there are fifteen thrilled ones (or fifty, I’m not picky). I won’t let my fear rule me (cue some sort of uplifting rock music).
But I see some heavy drinking happening the first months of my book release.