I talked to my best friend on the phone last night, and she asked (as she always does) how things were going. Lately things have been very busy and a little scary, but I didn’t want to be a whiner, so I said everything was fine. She knows me too well, though, so she launched into a brief pep talk to cheer me up. “You’re going to sell that new novel and suddenly get rich and famous and I’ll have to come to book signings just to visit you,” she said. We both laughed, but she kept insisting she was right, and that I just had to wait and see.
When you’re still trying to break in to the business, you have all sorts of insecurities. Was my query good enough? Was my idea original, and if it wasn’t, was my execution unique enough? Will anyone like my story? The thing no one counts on are the insecurities that remain after you sell a novel.
There’s a long time between signing the contract and seeing the book in print. In that space, you might be asked to rewrite portions, and you’ll definitely be sent copy-edited pages to review and return. You have months to fine tune your work, to make sure that every little detail is just as you and your editor want it. So what was I doing the night before my book’s release? Laying in bed, not sleeping, torturing myself over something in a late chapter that I wished I’d written instead of what I did. I hardly slept that night, wondering how I could find a way to stop the process and fix the chapter. Granted it was 2 in the morning so some of my foolish thought can be attributed to the lateness of the hour. The rest was just me, worrying that I hadn’t done a good enough job. I do the same number on myself when I have to appear at libraries or cons. Suddenly everyone around me sounds so much smarter and more sophisticated than me. What was I thinking, presuming I’d have anything to say that anyone would want to hear?
It’s one of those secrets no one likes to mention. Selling a book does nothing to completely wipe out those worries and fears. There are just new ones to deal with. Even the most successful writers suffer. Trust me, Steven King may have a gajillion dollars in the bank but he has the occasional sleepless night, too. The trick is in keeping the worries from eating you alive. You can let them weigh on your shoulders, force you down and give up. Or you can find a way to ignore the nagging thoughts. Stand up. Stretch. Breathe. Go outside and dance in the rain. No rain? Walk barefoot in the grass and soak up the sun. Call a friend who always manages to lighten your mood. But whatever you do, don’t stop creating. No matter how horrible you feel, creating something special is the surest way to make your world shine.
And while you’re doing that, I’m going to write some more pages of that guaranteed bestseller I’m working on. Hey, my best friend said it, so it must be true. 😀