Monday, July 18, 2011
Stepping Out In Public Without My Pants
I was going to post one of my usual Monday lists (full of mayhem with a heaping side of crazy), but I've been thinking about something else and decided to share that instead.
The picture above represents part of the book I spent the last few weeks editing. I worked to write two new opening chapters, to subtly weave in character arcs, emotional truths, back story, and sensory detail. To bring important secondary characters forward. To increase the tension. To lay the groundwork for book two.
When I finished at 4:30 in the morning this past Saturday and sent it to my editor, I was so happy with it, I kind of wanted to make out with the whole book. I still do.
But then I started thinking. Stuff like "Oh, crap. What if no one else wants to make out with my book?" and "People are going to READ this. And they will look into a big piece of my soul. And some of them are going to say 'This is worthless. I'm going to give her a one star rating and use this book as a doorstop.'"
It will happen. It does for everyone. Reading is subjective. Art is subjective. I know this. I value this. It's what gives us such lovely diversity on the bookshelves.
I know this, but suddenly the thought of laying myself out there and being found lacking made me feel like I must have been crazy in the first place to ever put myself in this position. I wanted to breathe into a paper bag and maybe hole up in my bedroom with nothing but popcorn and Dexter Season 4 for company.
But I did put myself out there for public consumption. I wanted it. I still do. Because I want my stories read. Even by those who will think it isn't worth anything more than to serve as a doorstop. Even by those who will viciously rip into me in their reviews. I've decided it's worth it because I'm hoping that for every person who scratches her head and says "I just didn't get that." someone else will read it and say "Yes. This. Exactly this."
Because I don't regret it, I have to learn how to deal with the anxiety that comes with publishing a book. I'm not a fan of being anxious. It destroys my ability to create and sucks emotional energy I need to give to more worthy areas of my life. So, late last night I did what I always do when I feel depression or anxiety threatening to take me over.
I wrote. I sat down and started a new story. A novella about two of the secondary characters in my novel. I started with nothing but an opening scene and an idea for the climax, and by the time I got up from the computer to head to bed, I knew the plot.
More than that, I wanted to make out with the plot.
This time next year, the reviews will start rolling in. I have a lot of time between now and then to be anxious. To feel like I stepped out in public and forgot my pants. But I also have a lot of time to write more stories. And more after that. And that's what I'm going to do. I can't control how people respond to my book. I can only do my best and then give it over to others to do with as they please.
But I can control what I spend my time doing. And I'm going to spend my time ignoring the anxious little whispers inside my head and write the next story instead.