Publication Jitters and Other Neuroses

First of all, thank you for stopping by my web site. I am now a little over three months away from the release date of my first novel. I know many of you visiting are writers and hope to publish. Maybe you wonder what is running through my head right now. Here it goes.

I think about how I’ve always liked writing stories. I remember when I first thought seriously about tackling a novel. I scribbled ideas during the down time of a class on Soviet foreign policy I took as an undergraduate. (The Soviet empire was then all but collapsed, but the course titles hadn’t quite kept pace with the changing world.) The Secret Daughter of the Tsar is the second novel I’ve seen through to completion and the first one to be published. Maybe I’m still wrapping my head around that notion—the change in mindset from writing to publishing.

I’m excited, but I don’t want to get hurt. This is probably why it took me so long to submit work for publication. We’re all told to grow those “thick” skins, particularly as writers seeking publication. But I have a difficult time with this concept. I can put on a thick, confident skin and even wear it around. But it’s not my true self. Even in the weakest light, the cracks show.

I’m not sure why I write. I do know that I can feel emotionally vulnerable and still write. I think I write best at moments of extreme vulnerability. Those are the same moments when my empathy for others is most heightened. Publishing is different. You let strangers see who you are and what you are capable of producing, at least in this moment in time. No one writes unless they love to write. When you publish, you get an objective idea of how good you are at something you love. That is scary. No room for weakness and vulnerability. At that moment, you better be strong.

I want to rise to the occasion. I also want to crawl under my bed and hide. 

This is the saving grace: I sometimes reflect on what it would have been like if I had never sought out an agent, never had her submit my manuscript to editors. I then wonder how I would feel if somewhere along the way, I received a phone call or an email along the lines of “so and so changed their mind…” or “so and so confused your book with someone else’s…” What would if feel like if none of this was going to happen after all?

When I imagine that moment, I don’t want to hide under my bed, no matter how tempting and comfy it looks down there. I want to fight for my book. I want a chance. That makes me realize the whole publishing ride, the ups and the downs, just might be worth the risk of getting hurt.

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