More from our favorite regular contributor Kathy Weyer. Please, welcome her as she shares more thoughts about the bumpy road of a newly signed writer.
In my last post, First Book Angst, I talked about having my book Stitches signed by a publisher – and I had the unmitigated gall to be ambivalent about it. The book was finished, polished, submitted, and signed. It’s out of my hands, like a child being sent away to boarding school. So now I’ve spent a lot of time wondering about my mental health. After all, I wrote a book and someone wants to publish it. Why am I not over the moon? What is wrong with me?
I drew on my education and experience as a therapist. I dove deep into my own psyche (not easy to do, but, then again, only we curious writers and wacko therapists will boldly go where no one dares) and discovered a history of fear dressed up as indecision and procrastination.
It’s scary in here. Lots of cobwebs and memories. But I digress.
We humans like homeostasis, the genetic need to keep things the same – our bodies work hard to keep things on an even keel (when blood pressure rises, the heart slows down, for example). Our psyches tend to do the same thing. We hold ourselves back because of the “what if…” game. What if it’s over-the-top successful? What if I fail? What if nobody likes it? What if the reviews come in, and they stink? Hmmm…notice the proportion of good result projection vs. bad result projection. Have to work on that.
We don’t like change, even though we crave it. We may want to be famous authors, but do we really want the success? Maybe not. It means our lives will be impacted, our income will change, our identity may be that of a famous author on talk shows and in magazines, and our friends may treat us differently. Maybe they will be jealous or resent our success.
On the other hand, do we want to tolerate failure? Absolutely not. Yet another project gone awry, all that time, all that energy, all that planning and work? People will be sad for you. Maybe you see pity or disappointment – shame, even.
Either way, it’s scary. Our lives may change as a result of publication and getting the baby out into the world. We can’t know how much, and that’s scary. We need to learn to embrace failure as well as success. Failure is only a sign that we tried, and success is a sign that we maybe did it well – or were at the right place at the right time – luck has a lot to do with it.
So here’s what I’ve come to:
An editor on the other end of this umbilical cord is looking over my words, my story, my plot line, and my characters, making suggestions and tracking changes, massaging this work of art from a professional point of view. Somebody who knows what they are doing, and what the public wants, is working on this so that I have a better chance of being successful. I am proud of that, and I can’t wait to see what she does with it. I can learn a lot through this process about the craft of writing. How cool is that? I now acknowledge that I have successfully finished my part in this process. I happily release it to this expert to turn it into something better. And if it doesn’t sell well, I will leave a sign that I went at it with everything I had.
If, and I say if rather than when (there I go again) the book becomes a best seller and I am interviewed by Oprah (wait, she doesn’t do that any more) I will have fun. I will meet new people, have new experiences, and enjoy my time out in the world, and let the chips fall where they may as far as the rest of my life. Bring it on!
Either way, I’m good with it all. And I could use a change anyway, the cobwebs in here are getting thicker.