Publishing a book always leaves me fretting and feeling as though I'm going through postpartum depression. Sometimes it lasts only a few days, other times it takes weeks to get back to normal. On this latest one I've gone through psychic ups and downs like never before. Maybe because it's been so long in coming, or maybe it's because it isn't like my other books. For whatever reason it's been keeping me up nights.
Trusting myself and my process is hard. I suffer great angst despite my bravado in sending out enthusiastic e-mails promoting myself and touting my books. I tend to call myself names and beat myself up over whatever comes to mind, things I would never say to another person. These bouts of self hate are not helpful. Some people swear by critique groups. I've tried them in the past and found myself agonizing over tiny details and losing my ability to stay true to my own voice. I know they work for others, but not for me. I write in isolation because that's what works best. I share my work with a few trusted friends to let me know if I'm veering off course. I love writing and don't want to quit, but early this morning I considered it. Only because of DOUBT. Doubt is a killer and can come from the most innocuous comments or even from silence. Doubt has to be driven out. We as writers all have our own process, our own way of doing things. Writers are NOT created equal and just as certain foods agree with some and not others, how we go about writing is individual.
My suggestion is to hang out with people who make you feel good about yourself--who are supportive of you and what you do. When it comes to writing they are hard to find, so if and when you do find one, hang on tight! The entire process reminds me of dealing with my ex-husband. Yes, I should be over feeling nervous around him, but...in reality I'm still nervous, so why should I place myself in that kind of situation? Reality bites.
I know--major ego problems, right? Do you have any idea how hard it is to expose yourself to the world? My book is like a piece of me that I am laying bare for the world to see. What if they don't like it? And of course, many don't. So feeling angst ridden and insecure is par for the course as far as I can tell--anyone who doesn't feel this way is either lying or they are writing stuff that means nothing to them.
Perfectionism kills creativity, is my motto. The more you strive to be perfect the more balled up in knots you become. Better to let it rip and fix it later. And what is this about putting a manuscript away for a year before publishing? Steven King, are you listening? I'm too old for this--I don't have the time to mess about! Isn't that what beta readers are for? And so in closing I say to all you aspiring and accomplished writers--keep on writing!!!
Next time: why money isn't important.