A writer friend recently asked (when we were kvetching and moaning via email,) “What were we thinking when we decided to write that very first book?”
I answered, “That it would be fun.”
Her question stayed with me, and I nudged it with my bare toes. Why wasn’t this fun anymore? The question jumped to life like a quivering half-dead cockroach, and that gave me the creeps. Could I leave it on the floor, injured and gasping for breath? Nope, I had to go back and either stomp on it, pick it up with a tissue, and flush it, or breathe life back into it. (Not the cockroach silly, the question.)
So, I dwelled on the question for a while. Twelve years ago I started my first novel full of enthusiasm, good humor, and little knowledge of the craft of writing. It was fun. For years I stayed in my cave, occasionally offering a sample to the contest gods and publishing houses only to feel the sting of rejection.
My cave was the place I ran to when the going got tough, or the rejections seemed nasty. I wrestled many a bear in that cave. But, I was a runaway writer, and as long as I stayed in the cave I was literally and figuratively in the dark. I could kid myself that I was a writer, and there was nobody about to dispute that. I controlled my world. Then 2012 loomed on the horizon, and I knew I had to discover once and for all if I could write. If the answer was absolutely not, then I needed to switch gears. Maybe I could spend the next twelve years learning how to paint? There’s an idea!
I took a giant leap and sent the first manuscript in a romantic suspense series to a publisher. The response was positive. Soon I was glued to the computer chair doing copyedits. Excitement filled me. This was fun! Then there were revisions pages required on a second book. The pressures from this chosen vocation roiled in my stomach, threatening to wreak havoc on my nerves and spew acid onto my computer. It wasn’t the edits. I enjoyed working with my editor, and I liked making the books better. But little questions started nudging at me. What if my book tanks? What if I make no sales? Well, that won’t happen, I mean Mum will buy one. ; )
After much wallowing in the dark, I realized I’d come a long distance. I’d learned craft, social media, marketing, promotion, and creating a website and blog. And yet, cover art, book buzz, interviews, blog spots, reviews, all rode through my dreams like monsters with fangs and drooling mouths. I knew I suffered from fear of the unknown, so I opened the shutters and lit up my cave.
We have no control over any of those things. Sometimes we win, sometimes we lose. And as the stranger with the bushy mustache in The Big Lebowski said: “Sometimes you eat the bar, sometimes…well, he eats you.” He was a cowboy and I’m sure he spoke of bears, although he was sitting at a bar in a bowling alley. Either way, bring on the bears, the bars, and the monsters, ’cause this journey is gonna be what it’s gonna be. And it’s gonna be fun.
What about you? Are you a writer? Are you published? Do you still get nervous with every submission or review? Are you scared of the monsters? Have the monsters eaten up all of your fun? Talk to me!