Thursday, March 18, 2010


I’ve got an extreme case of it right now. The plan is to start my next historical. I’ve pitched the idea to the agent and she likes it. Although we both agree I seem to have a propensity for taking the “hard way” when it comes to story ideas. At least half of this book is going to be told through two servants’ povs. That’s right. I’m going to have to sell NY on the idea that servants can be sexy and romantic too. How much harder can that be from trying to tell people that a mute witch in 1698 is the next big thing? Let's hope I do better this time.

I’ve thought about little else besides this idea since I turned in my last proposal. I wanted to have at least 3/4 the book done by June. That’s looking a little less likely right now.

Certainly, I’ve been doing everything I can to prep for this book. Reading Victorian history books, Victorian true crime fiction, actual Victorian fiction. Books on domestic servants, etiquette, money… all of it. I’ve been studying the streets of London and maps that indicate class distinctions. Mayfair vs Whitechapel and that kind of thing.

I’ve gone over the opening scene in my head a million times. I know what the heroine is going to say and how the mystery is going to unfurl. I know the back stories of my characters. And I know how the primary relationship will progress and most importantly how it will end.

The middle is vague, but it always is. I just trust that since I know how it starts and I know how it ends and I know what has to happen in the middle that the tiny specific details will come when needed.

So why can’t I start it? I sat in front of my computer on Saturday and looked at the blank page. After several minutes, I told myself I wasn’t ready and subsequently turned the computer off.

Why the sudden case of Startabookaphobia?

I think it’s because I realized that right now it’s a really good book. I mean really good. It’s different, it’s edgy. It’s got lots of twists and turns. It has all the feel of a creepy Victorian mystery steeped in thick London fog mingled with my sarcastic humor and the propensity to create really strong heroines.

I love this book… in my head. It is the execution of it that I’m afraid of. Can I get it right? Can I handle all these pov’s? Can I make what is in my head hit the screen in a way that will be so good everyone will get behind the idea that I’m using servants as two of the main characters?

I don’t know.

Hence… Startabookaphobia.

I’ll conquer it eventually. I always do. But right now it’s really powerful. I guess I just have to wait until that moment when my desire to tell the story will override my fear of failure. I’m pretty sure that’s how I started writing in the first place. Anyway – here is hoping that happens this Saturday morning!


Karen W said...

Ah, those pesky doubt demons. Wrestling with them is no fun. I'm there right now on the WIP. Just start it. You can always start over (like me .

Stephanie Doyle said...

See Karen - you're probably going to hate me for this... but I actually envy the fact that you can start over. I know you hate it when you do it a few times.

But I look at this way - I only have 1 way to start. If that fails - I'm pretty much done. I can't just scrap it all and try again. I guess I get too locked in.

And I also think it's funny that I pre-posted this on Tuesday before Maureen's blog regarding post book blues.

Between post book blues and startabookaphobia one might think that writers are in a perpetual state of gloom!

Eileen said...

We live for those moments of bliss when the stories in our heads flow into the words on the page and it's almost orgasmic. Those rays of sunshine break through the gloom and make it all worthwhile.

You'll know when you need to start. Breathe deep. You'll feel it. It sounds fabulous. I can't wait for it.

Maureen McGowan said...

Oh, Stephanie. I think I've got that, too, about one of my on-hold projects. It's like I love it so much I don't want to blow it.

But I do think you (and I) just need to plunge. Even if you end up tossing the first attempt, get the juices flowing and the book will come. Fear of success can be just as paralyzing as fear of failure. And when you're sitting on a "big idea" I think it's natural to feel both.

Maureen McGowan said...

Stephanie, I just read your comment saying you can't start again. I get that. I do... Once I see the opening of a book I have trouble abandoning it, too...

Maybe write some possible, but unimportant scene from the middle you won't mind scrapping? Or do one of those exercises like writing a few journal pages from your characters' points of view... something to get things moving.

OR... Just do it. ;)

It is funny that our posts were both so gloomy. I saw the title of yours after I drafted mine and had the same thought.

I've had someone close to me claim that clearly I shouldn't be a writer because it makes me so unhappy. But the truth is, as low as the depths are... the highs are higher, don't you think?

Sinead M said...

I have the same problem. It's so difficult to re-imagine a story once it's clear in your head.

But this one sounds amazing, and I'm really looking forward to reading it.

Molly O'Keefe said...

oh - it's awful! There's nothing else to do but write -- have you tried having a couple glasses of wine and THEN starting?

the fear of screwing up the perfect idea you have in your head is so crippling. Good luck next saturday Steph - I believe in you!! And your servent POV's!

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