Readers Who are Krazy for Kindle: Doubt and fear can suck it

December 16, 2010

Doubt and fear can suck it

Writers are neurotic messes. If you venture into creative endeavors, especially if you're crazy enough to try and live off whatever proceeds you can scrape up through said endeavors, then it's almost a requirement for you to be neurotic. In fact, it helps. Sometimes. I think.

Once you find the Holy Grail of the Search for Publication---an actual contract with an actual publisher who pays you actual money---a whole new set of neuroses is yours. Here's some of mine (I still suffer from most of these ... and yes, all writers probably need a brain scan. Or chocolate.):

* There are two Michele Bardsleys and they bought the other one's book, not mine, and at some point, someone will realize they've sent out the right contracts to the wrong person, and take it all back.

* Even though I signed the contract and sent it back, it's probably winding its way to a person who will realize I am the wrong Michele Bardsley, a terrible mistake has been made, and they will cancel everything.

*I haven't gotten the signing check, and NOW IT'S TOTALLY CONFIRMED that they're trying to figure out how to tell me they meant to give the contract and money to the other Michele Bardsley, who is obviously a BETTER WRITER and not a WHINER.

* I have the contracts and the signing money, so those suckers at the publishing house can't take back the deal or the cash. So now I have ... oh, shit. I have to write the book, and it has to be GOOD. No, GREAT.

* I'm mired in the book that is due in four ... er, two months and it's the crappiest crap of all crap ever. What was I thinking? I can't make a deadline. I can't write an ENTIRE BOOK based on my sucktastic concept. What was the PUBLISHER thinking?

* Even though I've managed to finish eleventy-whatever books just fine, this is the one I will fail to complete. The novel's stupid, anyway, and the middle is beyond awful. And so is the beginning. But not the end. Because I will never reach the end. I. Freaking. Suck.

* I reached the end, the book is done, my brain is fried, but, you know, the book is all right. Yeah. It's good. I can relax (oh, wait, another book is due). Note to self: Do not chew off nails waiting to hear back from the editor. Do not email your agent more than once a day to ask about revisions. Do not assume, ever, you won't have revisions because you're just that good. You're not that good. Just ask all those Amazon reviewers.

* Just got a huge revision email for the novel. Why did I think it was good? I should've realized that the heroine is unlikable, the action is implausible, the plot has Buick-sized holes, and ghosts can't sing. THEY CAN'T SING. Oh, and hey, it needs a few more words, too ... say 10,000 or so.

* Finished the revisions and the second set of revisions and did all those "few quick, tweaks", got through the copy edits without grinding my teeth down to nubs, read through the galleys, and now, miracle of miracles, the book is published. Even though I have placed a moratorium on reading my own Amazon reviews, a reader has emailed me about something someone said ... so now I have to go look. Why that pompous, ass-faced, motherf---. No. Nope. Uh-uh. Everyone's entitled to their opinions about my work. Even if their opinions suck.

Oh, yeah. This happens, people. Every time. Even if I manage to overcome the neuroses of one area, there springs forth a new place for doubt and fear to grow. By the time the book I've stressed out over (and over and over) finally hits shelves, I'm deep into the emotional mine field of a different project. Writers are really, really, really good at carving away at their own self-esteem and confidence (and we don't need the help of bloggers and reviewers, thanks).

Once you're published, there is a different crop of worries to cultivate: getting good sales numbers; trying to make bestseller lists; coming up with concepts that will ensure new contracts; promoting the upcoming release while trying to write the book that will come out a year and half from now; and getting paid. (There's always concerns about getting the publisher to cough up your moola.)

I've heard aspiring writers say, "I wish I had your problems." Hell, I've even said that to published authors when I was trying to get a foothold in this business. The point is that hey, you may have climbed one mountain, but in the distance, there's another one, bigger and more difficult to conquer. You know, like life. And doubt and fear can make you stumble or fall, or it can blind or immobilize you, or get you so lost, you want to curl up in a cave and cry yourself into a new reality.

So, writers have to make a choice: Let doubt and fear whittle away at the core of our passion for telling stories, or keep climbing the damned mountains no matter what. As long as you keep taking the steps, you'll get somewhere. It may not be exactly where you imagined when you started the journey, but it's different than from where you started. Keep going. Keep writing.

And tell doubt and fear to suck it.

(P.S. Check out Chuck Wendig's the Writer's Prayer AKA the Penmonkey's Paean.)