Tag Archives: worry

Fear, Self-Doubt, and an Update

This post would have been written earlier, but I woke up with the worst headache I have had in a while. The kind of migraine that makes your face hot, your eyes sore, and your neck stiff. Oh well.

Anyway, this post isn’t about migraines, it’s about The Earl and the Artificer and writing. I’m hitting that “I’m nearly done, so now I’m getting really self-conscious about my story because I don’t know if it’s good or not.” Part of the problem I think comes from the fact that I really liked The Winter Garden, and this book is nothing like it. There isn’t that darkness or intimacy that I enjoyed writing in that book, and because I know that will be in book four, I feel myself being pulled toward that book while forcing myself to finish this one.

The odd thing is, I like this book. I like the softer tone, the different focus on intimacy, the role Hadley plays in this book, and the new character, Nadir Talbot. I keep reminding myself that I feel this way every time I hit the 2/3 mark of my manuscript. Typically, I’m a fairly confident person, so feeling down about my work is a bit soul-sucking. This book has done this to me more than either of the others, and I have to think I’m doing something right. I’m trying some new things, expanding the cast of characters and delving into history. Probably when I begin editing it, I will feel better about it, especially after I tighten things up and smooth over some early draft hiccups.

Thus far, I am at 68,000 words (not including what I’ll write tonight). Something else that’s bothering me is that I wrote so much in August that September feels meager. I know, grad school started, so I need to consider that I have new sources of stress and that I’m adjusting to the new schedule and balancing act. I’m set to hit my minimum monthly goal of 10,000 words in a few days, and I should finish in October. That scares me. I’m nearly done. Oh my god, I will be DONE soon. I’ll finish it and it will be out in the world before I know it.

Writing makes you vulnerable, and at the moment, that terrifies me. After two times, you would think I would be over it, but you’re laying yourself out for judgment each time you publish, letting the reader get an intimate glimpse of your inner world. Sometimes it’s just harder than others.

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Success and the Awkward Authoress

For a type-A personality, success is a tricky thing to navigate and define. I thrive off getting good grades and being told that I’m at the top of the class. In writing, I’m definitely not at the top of the class. I’m not even in the middle. I’m at the bottom of the totem pole, trying to pull my way up. It’s been quite a while since I haven’t been at the top or a competitor, and it’s disconcerting to know that you’re a nobody.

I know I’m a newbie to the world of self-publishing. It’s been less than a year since I published my first book, and I’ve not only had sales every month but I’ve gotten a few loyal readers who love my books and characters. There is no reason for me to complain, but part of me wonders if I’m succeeding or failing. In this industry, I can’t rely on grades to tell me whether or not I’m doing well. You can’t rely on sales rankings because while you made a sale, you may not have added a reader. You can’t even rely on reviews because you aren’t tailoring the story to the reader as you would an assignment for a professor. Some readers will love it, others will be ambivalent, and a few will hate it. People won’t get it, and you’ll be frustrated that they didn’t see your vision. You can’t go and say anything to explain your point of view, all you can do it hope someone else gets it. It’s frustrating. It makes you question if you’re doing as well as you hoped or thought you were.

The key is to define what success is to you. It’s so much easier said than done, but when you figure out what success is to you, you can determine whether or not you’re actually failing or simply lacking confidence. Do you want to sell a lot of books each year or do you want to gain a larger readership? Do you want consistently high ratings on your books or do you want to grow with each book?

As I’ve written more and gotten deeper into the publishing process, I have found that what I care about are: gaining new readers and improving the quality of my writing with each book. Unfortunately, you need sales to get readers, but I’d rather have ten very loyal readers than a hundred ambivalent ones. In terms of quality, I know my first book is not my best work, and I’m okay with that. I’ve grown since I published it a little over a year ago, and I should have. With each successive book, I should get better. I should improve and grow and experiment. That’s what art and writing are about. The good thing is I know book two is even better than book one, so I guess in that area, I’m successful.

In this area, I find myself battling logic and emotion. Logically, I know that most writers aren’t successful in multiple areas (readership, sales, improvement, notoriety, etc.) until they have at least five books out and do a lot of marketing and connecting. Emotionally, I’m upset that I don’t feel that I’m doing as well as I should. I also realize that no matter how many sales, readers, or 5 star reviews I had, I would still probably feel insecure. This state of mind always worsens when I’m feeling stuck in my current writing project, and guess where I am currently– floundering in planning my next chapter. In order to not fall into this trap (or at least not as often), writers need to define what success is to them and work towards those goals.

What do you define as success?


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