I love writing. The entire process from creating new worlds and characters to building relationships and causing troubles I can resolve is exhilarating. The whole shebang from “What if…” to “The end” is my kind of good time. I wake up each morning excited about the day and eager to take my fictional friends on new adventures. It’s wonderful. A real delight! The only problem with this writing-high is that it always ends.
Eventually, I’ve done all I can, and I have to admit that I can’t make the novel any better on my own. So, I hand the file off to my agent, then my editor, and they each give feedback. They request revisions. They see things I can’t because I’m too close. Slowly, the story changes. A little here. A lot there. Until my work becomes something more, and for a minute I feel excited again because it’s better than ever and readers will enjoy it so much more. I hope.
Then it’s released. Suddenly, the book I loved and cherished and toiled over ten hours a day for weeks on end is loose in the wild. It is no longer safe in the hands of my team – people who love me and want me to succeed. Now, it’s out *there*. In readers’ hands. And I have no idea or control over what they will think about it.
This is my definition of terrifying. If you’re imagining me, knees hugged to chest, eating TUMS from the bottle, you’re pretty close. There’s a lot of fear in judgement. As an author, I have the added internal pressure of trying to make people happy. Not because all authors do, but because this is the reason I write. I write to make readers smile. I write to make them happy. When I fail, it’s crushing. Don’t get me wrong, I’m far too hardheaded to give up, but that just makes each book more nerve wrecking. Will THIS be story that pleases them? I wonder. Have I finally gotten it right? Have I given them a proper escape? Have I refueled them?
I know, of course, that I can’t please everyone, but it doesn’t stop me from trying. That’s my insane author goal. I want to provide my readers with the same wonderful feelings that my favorite authors give me. I have a long way to go. I know, but until then, I’ll keep trying. And keep that five-gallon jug of TUMS on my list of regular Amazon deliveries.
If you're a writer in fear, like me, I hope you'll keep going. We can trade virtual hugs as needed, and if you're a reader (also like me), I hope you know how much the (very likely) introverted, anxious, and terribly dedicated writer of that novel you're reading loves what they do. And even the books that don't speak to us as readers are the heart's work of someone out there working very hard to get it right.