Thursday, January 21, 2010

Writing Fears...

Not a new topic I’m sure, but one that I’ve been experiencing more and more lately. When I started on this journey of writing romance I can assure you I believed by the very ripe age of (cough cough 40) that I would have my beach house (the only thing I want) and I would be a perennial bestseller (just because it would be really cool). How could I not? I was published at 26. I had a business plan. I was going to write category romance like Linda Howard and Jayne Ann Krentz and then I was eventually going to move into contemporary romantic suspense. I was going to build loyal readers and as I said by 40 I would be on top.

I still rent a shore house. I’ve only written 12 category romances for 5 different lines. I think in those same amount of years JAK must have written 100! I’ve developed no following whatsoever and the bestseller list is about as far away from me as Saturn. Those books that were supposed to “make it” - all currently collecting dust in a folder on my PC appropriately named “Someday Stories”. I prefer this to “Reject Folder.”

And because of this dramatic veering off from the “plan” it’s brought a lot of fear into my writing.

I’m about to try and write for another line. I’m nearly paralyzed with fear. Can I do this? This is not what I thought I could do. Will it work? Will I like it? Will I get half way through this story and realize it sucks?

As a kid – and let’s face it all 26 year-olds are kids – I had no fear. I wrote the story. I had confidence it would sell. I LOVED it when it was done. Now older and wiser, I worry if it will sell, if it will be reviewed well, if the numbers will be all right.

In a way – I want that cocky kid back. I want the writer who just did it because she loved it with no worries. Who was so confident that it would all work out in the end.

But in another way – a very strange way – I’m glad she’s gone too.
I don’t know what comes next. I have no idea if I can pull off this new story in my head. I’m scared sh**less. And it feels … exhilarating. There is a certain thrill about NOT having a plan. Anything can happen. I can write any story.

So I’m afraid… but I’m loving it. Make sense?

10 comments:

Karen W said...

Steph, that's why I have trouble with beginnings. Fear. Plain and simple. As long as it stays fear, I can deal with it. But when it becomes PANIC - well, that's no good.

The trick is pushing past the fear. I would so love to be able to do that NANO stuff, just let the book pour from me, crap with gold, and then go back and edit. Not agonize over every word, every scene.

The NANO thing is like an exercise in fearlessness.

Alli said...

Oh, yes, I understand your fears. Mine are slightly different as I am unpublished, but I still have them. I'm just starting to query my third MS and my gut tells me this is "it" (my first two needed to stay under the bed). I've only sent a few queries out at this stage and so far, no bites. This book is going to be a hard sell as it doesn't fit neatly anywhere. But I HAD to write this book. I will keep trying to get an agent, of course, but I don't regret writing it.

But the new fear is the WIP I'm about to start. It is going to have the same action/adventure as the one I am querying and will appeal to the same audience. Do I go with my gut and write what I know will be a "book of my heart" or do I bow to the market and add more sexy scenes (which I don't naturally write). Ah, the dilemma!

The thing is, this fear is crippling me and I am finding it hard to start the WIP. So yes, I do get what you're going through - and my advice to you (and me, I really should listen to myself) is to GO FOR IT. When a book is written with passion it is easy to see and that is what makes it a good read. Sometimes the best plan is not to have a plan. GO FOR IT, STEPHANIE!

Eileen said...

I have hit the point that the more I'm loving what I'm writing, the more afraid I am that it's actually a steaming pile of doggy doo-doo. I honestly don't think I know what's good anymore. Books that I can't even bring myself to finish soar up the bestseller lists. Books that I love molder in the midlist. If I can't judge other people's work accurately, how can I possibly judge my own.

Kathy Holmes said...

I so get this. When I first started writing (cough - after 40), I got such great reactions, got an agent, I thought I was on my way. Not! So with more and more writers out there, the bar seemingly being raised every day, and the market shrinking, I'm becoming practically paralyzed with fear and it's hard to grab onto that original gusto and confidence that the next book will be the one. I've lost that sense of urgency... I'm trying to hang onto the dream... I"m fearing it's all slipping away...

Maureen McGowan said...

I think if you're not a little afraid it means you're not trying hard enough.

The trick is to figure out how to push through that fear. Easier said than done. (As I'm proving these past couple of weeks.)

A few major set backs and some negative things said by family members made me realize how much I want this. How badly I want to push through the insecurity. For a while I thought I was just keeping at it out of stubbornness and pride (I said I was going to do this, so dammit, I will), but realize the expiry date on that excuse passed at least 3 years ago.

Not everyone in this business will achieve everything they hope for. But I have to continue to believe that those of us who are smart about it and work hard (and yes, have some talent) will eventually have our success and shore houses.

Eileen said...

Ooh. The dreaded family snark attack. I'm always surprised at how much people will poke fun at someone for wanting to write a novel then suddenly get all impressed if you have one published.

I was the same writer the day before I got The Call that I was the day after.

For some reason, when I finished edits of my first book with Pocket, I had to mail off a bunch of hard copies. I think there was one for editor, one for my agent and I'd promised some to some relatives. I was at Kinko's making the copies and I could hear this man making comments to his family about me. "Ooh. I bet that's her novel she's mailing off. Ha ha ha." Then he actually asked me about it and I told him that yes it was my novel and that it would be coming out from Pocket Books in April of 2004. Suddenly he wanted to be my best friend when he'd been laughing at me behind my back a few minutes before.

I wanted to slap him. I didn't. I still regret it and regret sucks.

Kathy Holmes said...

lol on the slap! But what you said reminded me of some of the awkwardness at the mailing center when you're mailing off a manuscript - and they start talking about, "Oh, so you're a writer... mailing off your manuscript, huh?" as if they're saying, "Good luck with that piece of slush, sister!" When they do that, I don't return - I'll drive all over town to find a place I haven't been before. :)

Molly O'Keefe said...

I agree with maureen -- if you're not a little scared it's probably a bad thing. I also am with Eileen, the more I love something the more scared I am - which I think can also be a good thing. I think it's about making the fear work for you rather than against you -- how exactly you do that is the real secret and if anyone knows...

Molly O'Keefe said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rob said...

The fear is what creates great writing. Use it as a motivation when you're trying to write and you will excel. As a struggling unpublished writer, i can think of nothing worse than losing the fear of failure.

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