I’m about to release another novel. I’m terrified.
And that’s okay.
Let me back up a bit before I continue. This article’s as much for my benefit as anyone else. Sure, I’m hoping some reader out there will take some comfort from this meandering string of phrases, but chiefly it’s more about getting my mental ducks in a row, as it were. I’m just taking you along for the ride. Hop in.
But yeah, I’m terrified. I’ve done the writing, the editing, the formatting, the cover design. I’ve launched my work into the myriad hoops that needed to be jumped through to get a manuscript to play nice with print and digital formats. I’ve done what I could leading up to release, and now I find myself at that awful tail end where there’s nothing more that can be worked on.
Why is it awful? Because that’s the dimension where Anxiety lives. And Anxiety, as you may know, is a grade A dick. Total asshole. Anxiety knows this, and Anxiety has zero fucks to give regarding what we might think of it.
What a tool.
Anyway, you would think it gets easier. It does, but not necessarily in the way you might think. I released my first book back in 2013, and to say that was a harrowing experience is a bit of an understatement. It’s closer to the truth to call that experience a cavalcade of suck that got its doctorate at the University of Harsh Lessons.
Your precious GPS can’t save you know, writer-boy.
Hindsight being what it is, I needed to learn those things going forward. But, it also colors everything that comes after, especially when I get to this point on the cusp of releasing something new. I’ve released four other literary works in the years after on top of all the other projects I’ve worked upon. Yet, actually sifting through the pre-launch jitters hasn’t gotten any easier.
Fellow creatives, you know this point. You might even have your own clever pet name for this particular situation. The work is done, the art as the saying goes is “abandoned”, and anything else to be done with it is nervous tinkering. Before release, Anxiety issues proclamations from its throne of Bad Times. They always come in the form of questions.
Is this good enough?
Could I have done better?
Was this worth the effort?
What is wrong with this?
Is this the right thing to put out?
And, perhaps the most gripping one for anyone trying to pay the bills via their creative mind to tangle with:
Will people even like this?
Well then. Fuck you too, Anxiety. As I said, Anxiety is a dick like that. I could answer a fair few of the questions logically, but there are still more than can only be answered with the passage of time. So why in the hell do we do this to ourselves; put ourselves in a position where we have to deal with this scenario over and over again? How do we tackle it?
Well, that’s where that cryptic “it does get easier, but not in the way you might think” sentiment comes into play. I can only speak for myself, though. It doesn’t get easier to deal with, but it does get easier to accept. And acceptance really does bolster things until I’m on the other side of the scenario.
I know that in the years to come, no matter what I churn out, I’m going to have to shoulder the weight of release fears. The more personal a project, the worse it’s going to be. I accept it as part of the package deal for me to be able to do what I do. It’s going to be harsh every time. The fine vintage of it will never change. It’s going to be top-shelf suck, and I will order it up with a smile.
Pictured: submitting a query letter to a literary agent.
In short, this is where I reaffirm how scared I am, and I say “Fuck it. Do it anyway.”
See, I have no idea if this new novel will be a success, even by my meager margins of measuring a hit. I have zero foreknowledge of how things will play out once May 8th hits, and I’m banging the self-promotion drum to hopefully land a sale or two. I have no idea how the months of effort on my part will translate on the other side of release day.
Anxiety will tell me to expect the worst. My heart will tell me to hope for the best. Logic will roll its eyes at both of them and remind me that I’m not a clairvoyant, so thinking either way is a waste of my time. The three will bicker while I stare at YouTube videos in a vain attempt to distract myself.
And in the end, I’ll be terrified, and release it anyway. and I’ll do it again, and again, and again, until the day when folks have to start referring to me in the past tense. Because that’s just the name of the game with a creative career. Accept it, own it, and work through it.
Create because you love it. Polish because it’s worth it. Release it because giving into fear is the death of passion.
If I can do it, well, I think you know the rest.
Until next time, Horns Up.