Why is it that even after writing and publishing fifteen books, I still get nervous butterflies in my stomach when someone tells me that they’re reading one of my books?
Will they like it? Will they connect with the characters? Will they close the book after a few chapters and not have the desire to pick it up again? Or, as with my more recent worries, will they find hundreds of errors in the grammar and punctuation?
You’d think I’d have some confidence in my writing by this point. But do I?
Eh… not really.
Oh, that’s not to say that I think that I don’t know what I’m doing when I sit down to write. I most certainly do. I’ve studied writing out the wazoo. I know exactly how to do it. I’ve got my worksheets and graphs of my characters, their developmental arcs, the romantic arc… all that. And I know exactly how to write. How to let the characters speak through me. I really get into the scenes I write and write them with authenticity.
And some people have said how wonderful my writing is—people I trust and admire. But others have said how awful it is. How they just couldn’t like a character, or found them flat. Plenty of people have said that they didn’t like the story—and I’m totally find with that. Not every story will be enjoyed by everyone who picks it up to read it.
My favorite comment in a review was where the writer questioned my mental balance—honestly! She thought I needed psychiatric help for thinking up the book that I’d written (it was Air: Merlin’s Chalice, in case you’re wondering). She might be right. I might need mental help, not for my creativity or lack there-of, but for my insecurity, perhaps my panic and worry about how people will react to my work (and there’s the touch of depression, but that’s a whole other story).
You would think that after writing so many books I’d be easy with the thought of people reading them. You’d think I’d be pretty confident. And not only have I written so many books, I’ve published them. I’ve put them out there in the world for everyone to see them and even comment on them in public places. How crazy is that?
Why do I do this to myself?
Well… I love to share my stories, so I’ve got to keep that in mind. And there are enough people who like them and my writing that I’m encouraged to keep on doing it. That’s good enough, right?
I have a sneaking suspicion that this feeling of dread every time someone tells me they’re reading a book I’ve written may never go away. I wonder whether people like Mary Jo Putney and Cathy Maxwell, who have written so many more books than I have and are, like, real writers (and by that, yes, I mean famous writers who get onto the USA Today list without even advertising their books because they’re auto-buys for so many readers), I wonder if they also get nervous when someone tells them they’re reading their latest release?
What about you? Do you stress when you hear that someone is reading your work? Or are you strong and confident in what you’ve published that it just makes you happy (I assume that it would make you happy – if it doesn’t tell me why)?
Oh, and here’s an addendum—after I wrote this post, I found the Insecure Writers Support Group. It looks interesting, useful and, well, appropriate!