There are many stopping points for writers on their journey to publication: cups of tea, coffee, glasses of wine, cake to eat, and social media demands happy tweets, five star reviews and lots of likes, hugs and grinning emojis.
But of course, there are also mountains to climb and crevasses to avoid. My friend and fellow member of Exeter Writers, Elizabeth Ducie, writes here about the fear that isn't so often talked about:
Fighting the Fear
They say that even the best actors, with the longest experience, suffer from stage fright. I think it’s the same for authors. We spend months, or even years, writing, editing, and polishing our work. We know it’s the best we can make it (or at least we should) and then, when it’s time to get it ‘out there’ for the readers to enjoy, we start panicking, as our confidence drains away. Or is that only me?
My new novel, Counterfeit! took me only eighteen months from start to finish; a relative sprint by previous standards. Yet once I finalised the manuscript, it took me nearly a month to press the button to launch it on Create Space. At a recent literary festival, just before the official launch date, two people asked if they could buy advance copies and my response was “are you sure?” At the launch party, a couple of ebook fans had already finished it and were full of praise. I tried hard to keep the note of surprise out of my voice, but am not sure I succeeded.
Maybe it’s because we spend too much time with our work before we let it go. We write, read, edit, reread, re-edit and so on, until we become bored and can no longer see any value in it. I guess that’s why we are advised to put it away from some weeks between stages, so we can come to it with fresh eyes.
I published my first fiction back in the summer of 2011, a collection of short stories written with a friend, Sharon Cook. We launched it during the first Chudleigh Literary Festival; as the organisers, we were able to highjack the proceedings somewhat. We spent the following months selling copies to friends and family. But it was not until the following spring that we were confident enough to approach local craft shops, asking if they would stock our book. And when they said yes, we were not only delighted, but amazed!
I started writing my first novel, Gorgito’s Ice Rink in 2007. I finally published it in October 2014. As a novice to fiction, it’s not surprising that the writing and editing took years, but if I look back at the calendar, there are great patches of time where I simply did nothing because I had lost confidence in myself.
Counterfeit! is the first in a series of three thrillers. I had scheduled books 2 and 3 for 2017 and 2018. But I’ve decided to push myself, and bring them both out during 2017. It will take some hard work and good time management; I have already written the project plan. But I’ve not scheduled any time in there for lack of confidence. This time, I’m going to face the fear head-on!
Find out more about Elizabeth on her website HERE
Her Facebook author page is HERE
She is on Twitter as @ElizabethDucie HERE