You know what’s frightening in a spine-tingling sort of way?
Exit: 10,000 Feet
Getting suited up, hoping that parachute was packed just right (whether you or someone else packed it), and then that final moment when you’re looking out the side of the airplane, staring at the ground ten thousand feet below.
No matter how safe and careful you are, there’s always a risk involved with taking that plunge. The plane’s engine could have trouble. The chute could fail to open properly or at the right time. The landing could break your legs. The chance of any of these happening is slim, but something could go wrong, and you know that, going into it.
But you know what’s amazingly thrilling?
It’s a complete rush. The woosh of air when the plane door is opened. The weightlessness of the freefall where you’re hanging in mid-air with no real sense of gravity. The part after the chute opens when you soar through the sky, as graceful as a bird. It’s exhilarating. (And yes, I speak from first-hand experience.)
Jumping Out with Your First Book
Getting your first book published is a lot like skydiving. There’s the unquenchable excitement right before it’s released, but along with that comes a subtle fear. It’s a doubt that every unpublished writer has experienced at some point: What if people don’t like my work?
Your debut novel is the first time you get to share your baby with the world, and there’s no guarantee how all those readers will treat it. As an author, it’s normal to have that fear. Getting published can be downright scary at times.
Without risk, there’s no reward. Just like jumping from a plane, if you want the exhilarating experience that comes with being published, you’ve got to take a chance. You’ve got to face all those fears and go for it anyway.
Fear and Excitement: Total BFFs
I’ve been skydiving and my first novel will be published next month. Honestly, I’m more fearful of the latter than I was of the former. (I’m a bit of a thrill-seeker, what can I say?) Knowing my writing, which is akin to my own heart, is about to go public is a big deal in a very personal way.
The night I sent out advanced copies of Foreign Identity to the reviewers, I told my husband, “People are reading my book…right NOW—can you believe it?” Of course he could, but I was having a more difficult time with the knowledge. It was suddenly painfully obvious that I was opening up myself for criticism.
At the same time, I was excited. The intertwining of the fear and the excitement births a passionate relationship. They cling to each other as if proclaiming they’re better together than alone. As if to say, “THIS is the only way to experience life.”
Honestly, I probably didn’t have much to worry about yet. My advanced readers are hand-picked, people who’ve already shown interest in my work. Sure, there’s a chance they won’t love it, but it’s a pretty slim one. So far it’s gotten great reviews.
But once the book goes public, that could change. Anyone can read it. Anyone can write a review. That’s good, of course, but it just stirs up the worry all over again. What if I get a one-star review?
It could happen. Even the best authors get a one-star review now and then. If your work is widely read, it’s a statistical probability. But that’s not a reason to avoid getting published.
Push Past the Fear
Sometimes I wonder how many writers out there let this anxiety paralyze them. It’s real—I feel it and I’m not a big worrier. I can imagine how much worse it could be if I was. Fear can keep you from publishing your work. It can keep you from sharing your drafts with others and getting to the point of a pub-ready manuscript.
Fear can keep you from writing in the first place.
What fears do you deal with in your writing? Do you let them hamper you? What struggles do you need to push past so you can be and do all you were meant to?
I’ll join hands with you as we face this battle together.