I’m starting to wonder – in that way that’s bad, in that way that just brings about the worst possible scenarios in the worst possible times but has the uncanny habit of growing like mold until it’s infected all the foundation and there’s little else you can do but move and condemn the damn thing – on whether I am ever going to make this happen.
I’ve bought the books and the first page is always congratulatory – “Good job! If you’re reading this then you finished your hopelessly long work of fiction. Aces! You’ve done more than the tons of people who always say they want to write a novel; you’ve actually written it. The ability to put ass to chair and pen to paper earns you a gold star. Yeah you!”
I hate those paragraphs. For some reason they always lull me into a false sense of security. Yes, I did something – go me. But the hardest part of trying to get my book in a bookstore is not the writing of the book. Who knew it was the easy part?!
I thought before I did this that I knew myself, that I was realistic in the fact that not everyone was going to like it, that I would get rejected, that this would be hard. But I’ve said that so many times – to myself, to my friends, to even this blog – that the idea lost meaning completely. I said it, I thought I thought it, but turns out I’m not sure I ever really believed it.
Because there’s this email that I’ve been afraid to open for more than a month now. And even though I knew from the beginning this person wouldn’t like my stuff, even though I don’t feel the advice she’s given me is practical, even though I know a synopsis of facts is not my forte, I can’t bring myself to see what the email says. I just can’t take the criticism.
In my mind I guess I just believed that the criticism would come with a little bit of praise. I like my story, I like it a whole lot, I can’t help but think that everyone else should find something redeeming too. I feel almost like that “The Best Show You’re Not Watching.” Not that I think I’m the best or anything but in my heart of hearts I truly believe that if I can get you to read the first three chapters of my book, you won’t want to put it down.
There I go again, thinking people are going to give me a chance to convince them more than my 300 word query letter or 600 word synopsis. I’m not good at those things – concise and condensed and collapsible. I’m wordy. No more, no less, just is – wordy.
So this email, I had my roommate read the one before it (because I needed to know what it said and I was having a truly awful day) and it said that I should change the premise of my book because it’s hard for first time writer’s to sell. And it hits me again – how can this person be making value judgements on my book when she hasn’t even read it?! Talking about judging a book my its cover – this is judging a book by its spine.
And there are two voices inside my head – one saying screw it, you can make it happen and the other saying she’s right, no one is ever going to read it, its staying locked up in your bedroom forever. I want to believe in myself but its so hard when no one else does. That’s not to say that no one does but most of the time I walk around bemused when people tell me that they’re sure I’ll make it. I always want to ask them the stupidest question: Why?
Why do they think I’ll make it? They’ve never read anything I’ve written. Am I giving off some crazy writing vibe that means they have to agree with me as they back away slowly? Is being a successful writer written in my DNA and as easy to discern as someone who is good at math or public speaking? Or is it – as I fear – just a nice little thing people say and they don’t believe it at all, just want to be encouraging. Them I want to scream at, they’re getting my hopes up for no reason at all.
It’s cliched and trite and probably a bit melodramatic and egotistical to say but I will anyway – I feel like I am supposed to be doing greater things than going to the office everyday and pushing paper around my desk and answering phones and crunching numbers. But who am I to say that? Who am I to think I deserve better than everyone else there?
And it kills me to think that what I have written, I have written for just me. And it kills me to think that if I do find someone to love it and help me they’ll want to change it until its unrecognizable from the way it started out. And it kills me to think that I will spend my life replaying these same arguments, these same ideas, with myself – waffling back and forth between two options that I’ll never choose.
I escape into characters and stories that do things I can’t do for myself. How successful is that if they do nothing but sit in my bedroom as well?