My very first published book is starting to hit bookstore shelves around the country. Amazon reviews are beginning to roll in. And my insides are flipping out with all kinds of acrobatics maneuvers—so many that I think my stomach will be ready for the Olympic gymnastic tryouts.
From time to time, friends ask me, “How does all of this make you feel?”
My first answer to that question is, “I’m incredibly thrilled!” After all, I’ve spent years and years working hard, improving my craft, writing book after book, and chasing after publication. And now I’m at the point in my writing career where I’m seeing a lifelong dream come true.
But then my second answer to that question is, “I’m scared too.” I can’t help but wonder what people are really thinking as they read my book, if they’re just telling me they like it to be nice, or if some aren’t saying anything because they can’t find something positive.
Excitement and nervousness do the cha-cha-cha across my mind and through my heart. One minute I’m pulled in one direction with giddy anticipation, and the next I’m stepping back, wanting to protect myself from the negative that is just a twirl away.
In the debut dance, there’s also the self-consciousness that comes from stepping into the spotlight. When it’s our time to take a turn on the dance floor, we can’t cower in the corner any longer. We have to get out, let the light shine on us, and feel the heat. And for those of us writers who are used to a relatively unobtrusive lifestyle, the attention feels slightly uncomfortable.
On the one hand I’m pleased to have the newspaper write up a flattering article about me, to have my dog’s vet office send me a card of congratulations, and to get stopped for a handshake at the store. But on the other hand, I also want to stay the normal, busy mom of five, because I’m just an ordinary person with an ordinary life.
And finally, in the mixed emotions of debuting, I'm filled with deep appreciation for all of those who want to help make this debut successful. I love hearing from friends who’ve made a point of buying my book simply because they want to encourage me. But on the other hand, worry lingers in the back of my mind, nagging me with questions like, “Will I earn out my advance?” “Will my publisher be glad they took a chance on me?” “Will I have respectable sales figures?”
What I’m realizing is that no matter where we’re at in our writing careers, there will always be mixed emotions. Maybe it’s the high of getting a request from one agent, but the cold shoulder from another. It could be the pain of a harsh critique one week, but a contest final the next. Perhaps it’s the excitement of garnering interest from a publisher, but then the agony of having to wait for months to hear back.
We have to resolve ourselves to the fact that the writing journey is always going to have dips in the road. It’s a bumpy ride--before and after publication. If we can adjust our perspective and realize it’s not all smooth sailing, we’ll be better prepared, more realistic, and develop the stamina to keep going through the ups and the downs.
Through it all, I remind myself of how blessed I am to have the gift of being able to weave stories. Not everyone gets to do something they absolutely love.
What about you? Have you experienced the mixed emotions that come with the writing life? I’ve shared my feelings openly. Now I’d love to hear yours.
P.S. If you'd like the chance to win a copy of The Preacher's Bride, make sure you head over to Trivia Question #4 and leave a comment!