A little less than a year ago, I finished writing my first novel. I then spent several months editing it, including completely re-writing the ending. I was, and am, very proud of this book, but what it really needs right now is to be read by other people. I need to learn from them what is and isn’t working in the book, then make another round of edits, before I begin the task of shopping it around.

It’s been ready to be reviewed by others since June, and I’ve shared it with exactly zero people. I’m dithering, and I know it. I’ve been trying to figure out why I’m dithering, so that I can overcome it.

Some of it is definitely laziness. A few of the people I’ve approached to review it prefer to have paper copies. I completely understand and respect this, being a preferer of paper myself, that’s not a problem. It’s figuring out the logistics and costs of printing out a 300-page (typed, single spaced, ugh) manuscript that holds me back on this one. It’s downloading it from the cloud and fixing it up appropriately in a word processor that holds me back.

Then there’s the added work when I do get feedback. I’ll need to do a whole other round of edits, and while the first round wasn’t as bad as I expected, it’s still not as fun as writing something entirely new. It’s very easy to get caught up in the brand new, fresh idea. I still love and believe in my novel’s concept, but I’ve written that now; it’s out of my system (though books 2 and 3 are still antsy to get on paper).

Worst of all will be the work when the edits are done – then I have to figure out how to start querying my book with agents and publishing houses. I’ve seen people in my writing group do this, and it looks like the least fun part of the job, by far. I know it needs to be done, but that anticipatory dread is strong. And never mind the inevitable rejections that will come with this stage.

And that’s always the real kicker, isn’t it? The dread, the fear. What if I give it to people and they hate it? What if they think my characters are boring, the plot nonsensical, the world unimaginative? What if the conflict isn’t engaging or the stakes not clear? What if they read it and tell me it’s just like this other book they read that I don’t know about and I’ve unknowingly plagiarized someone? What if they see all the little parts of me that live in those characters and in that world and they reject it, and therefore reject me?

My fears of it being bad aren’t helped by my feeling that the things I’m writing right now are really good. I wrote my novel after 20 years of writing essentially nothing. Going from zero to 300-page novel is not exactly how things usually go. As I noted in my last entry, practice is really helping me get better. So I look at the things I’m writing now and they are probably just better, stylistically at least, than my novel. I’m more than a little afraid that I’m going to look at it and be disgusted at how much I need to do to salvage it.

Regardless of how much work it needs, I did spend a lot of time and effort on it, and I do still think it’s a good story. It deserves me putting in the effort to make it what it should be. I need some accountability to make me stop dithering and start getting this out there. That’s where you guys come in. I’ve told you I need to do this, and now I’m telling you I’m going to do this. I’m committing to getting my book in front of other people by the end of November. That is a more than generous deadline for the small amount of work I need to do. Time to face the fear and open myself up to the possibility of reward.

1 Comment

  1. Letting Go - Erin Tells Lies

    […] the end of October, I told you all that I was done dithering, and committed to getting my novel in front of my selected alpha […]

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