Sunday, September 2, 2012

Am I Vain, Courageous, or Stupid?


(This is kind of a therapeutic, rambling, gratuitous, justification-ridden diatribe. Feel free to ignore this post.)



Remember how I wrote a book?

Remember how I decided to e-publish it directly without a traditional print publisher?

Remember how I had daily panic attics about it?

What? You don't remember that third thing?

Let me tell you about it.

Five years ago, I wrote a novel. It's been shelved and dusted off and shelved again numerous times. Last spring, I decided that with the market growth in e-publishing, that I would go that route and give my book a chance to live. Who knows - maybe it will die a swift and painful death. Maybe it will hobble along like a knobby kneed grandmother with Alzheimer's who doesn't really know her purpose. Maybe it will find a tribe of followers and soar.

I figure my book deserves that Darwinian opportunity.

I have always wanted to be a novelist. Blame Jo March/Louisa May Alcott. So I wrote Oceanswept. I am biased, I know, but I think it's decent.

But after five years, I got tired of someone else...someone who hasn't even read my book...someone who hasn't even read more than a three paragraph letter describing by book telling me, "No." Telling me, "You can't." Telling me, "It's not good enough. You're not good enough."

And, dammit, I got tired of that. One person. One paragraph. One rejection. All of it holding me back. It didn't seem fair. How many geniuses turned away J.K. Rowling before someone took a chance? (I am NO J.K. Rowling). And grammy-winning music artists - many of those artists were turned away by numerous recording companies before making it big. Just because a scout (or thirty) say you're not good enough does not make it so.

I was tired of someone else holding me back. If I am going to be held back, if I am going to fail, I want it to be of my own doing.

So I have decided to e-publish.

Does that make me courageous?

I think so. It would be so much easier to hide behind my rejection letters. Heck, it would be so much easier to have never even written the book. At my thirty year high school reunion, someone would ask me, "Hey! Didn't you always want to write a book?" And then I would say, "Oh, yeah. The dreams of youth. I had kids and a successful career as a copywriter, though. Things are good! What have you been up to?"

So I feel courageous because I am courting failure. You know that saying about how you miss 100% of the shots you don't take? It's true...but somehow the idea of never taking a shot is less nauseating than taking those shots and never sinking a single one.

Does e-publishing make me vain?

I worry about that. Why do I believe in my characters, my book, and my own abilities so much? If no literary agents could see potential, then maybe it's not there. Am I too self-involved to take a hint?

As a professional copywriter, I work with other great writers every day. They are following my e-publishing adventures with interest. In some ways, I think they are seeing if it's a path they could follow. In other ways, they probably think I am trying too hard. I don't know. They are supportive though. But I don't want them to read my book. Is that crazy? As friends, I am sure they would purchase the book out of support. But I am more terrified of their rejection than some strangers. The idea of colleagues I know and respect (who are NOT the intended target audience) reading my book and judging me terrifies me.

When I write something at work that doesn't go over well, I can blame it on the business. The strategic team told me to write this. This is the product we're selling, I can't help it if it's lame. Whatever. I can pass the blame. But this novel is all me. So scary.

Ugh. These thoughts plague me daily. They make me want to retract all my efforts and pretend this never happened. They make me want to sit on the sidelines and not take any shots at all than risk looking like an idiot with zero game.

I am pushing forward though. I have a couple of powerful cheerleaders who are in my corner, rooting for me to win. I couldn't do it without you. You know who you are.

A few quotes have really sung to me lately, given me the gumption (stupidity?) to see this through. (Sorry for lack of attrition. Most of these are from Pinterest and we know how that goes.)

Stop Wishing. Start Doing. 

Yes. I am done wishing and I am doing. Sink or swim, it's now up to me.

The more you love your decisions, the less you need others to love them. 

It's taken me five years to get to this point, but I finally think that's why I am able to risk the embarrassment, risk the failure, and push forward.

Some succeed because they are destined to. Most succeed because they are determined to.
 - Henry Van Doyle 

So true. The past five years has not only seen me honing my craft, but also my determination. I am proud of that. I am a fairly weak person. A pushover. I am actually quite proud of where I am right now with this. 

There are only two questions in life: what do you want and how bad do you want it?
- Keith Akre

I want to be a novelist. I want it badly enough to have spent countless hours writing a book. I have given up watching television at night. I have given up precious time with my family. I have given up on sleep and let Nighttime Lara take over my life. I want it bad enough to risk a total face flop and make my dream come true any way I know how. 

At any given moment, you have the power to say: This is not how the story is going to end.


And that's what I am doing right now. I am ignoring that folder of rejection emails. I am ignoring the haters and the doubters. My story ends not with a shelved manuscript and dust-encrusted dreams. 

It ends with a novel.




8 comments:

Ashley said...

Totally courageous! I love the cover! It looks amazing.

Debra said...

I think it is so wonderful! You are doing something I wish I had the guts to do. It is amazing, courageous and something I am sure you will never regret!

Whitney said...

I am majorly amazed and impressed by what you are doing and can't wait to read your book! You are a very gifted writer (I check your blog religiously because I always love reading what you have to say), and I truly believe that you will never regret going for it!

Michelle said...

Can't wait to read it! Definitely Courageous :)

Mel said...

I agree with the other comments. Seeing the cover is exciting and I can't wait to download the book!

Jessica said...

So brave! Can't wait to read it and LOVE the cover!

Kim said...

I'm excited to read your book! I admire you for following your dreams!

Rachel said...

Yes. Yes! Yes!!

SO BRAVE.

And so. spot. on.

My friend's mom used to write this on her lunch napkins:

"Fly girl, fly."

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