Releasing some words into the world

Why do I fear stepping into the limelight and releasing my writing, my words, my voice into the world? I’ve delayed the launch of my novel ‘The Alien Eve’ from October last year and every step of the way I’m fighting with myself to just do it. Filled my time with studies, doing Nanowrimo for my fourth novel and getting a short story and poetry ready for another anthology but that’s no excuse.

I know it’s a good novel. Every time I’m proofing it, I find myself re-entering the world I’ve created and I’m once again there standing beside my characters, feeling their anguish, fears, joys, worrying for them. Until I catch myself and remember that I was supposed to be checking the novel, not reading it.

But it’s done. Complete. Edited. Proofed. Beta read. Proofed a few more times.
And still I fear its release.

Tonight, I going with a friend to see about a launch venue in one of the local pubs. I’m hoping to get a young female singer, perhaps two, to perform after the launch itself. There’ll be tapas and desserts so people can eat and drink and relax and enjoy themselves. A couple of speeches and a short (really short, one page max) reading. I know the attention span of launch attendees is tiny (Well, mine usually is, why inflict a long reading on everyone?)

And then I’ll look back on my fear the day after and say to myself,
‘Well, that wasn’t so bad, was it?’

Writing a third novel and still doubting

Imagine that you’re writing your third novel and still doubt that you can be a writer.

Last September I completed a novel. Not just a first draft, or a second structural draft, or a third draft tightening everything up, but the final, read it all aloud, every single word, draft and I have three chapters and a synopsis all polished and looking good. And a Beta reader (three to date) read it and gave feedback and when I got the courage a month or so later, I began to send it out to the few agents that deal with science fiction, in the UK and Ireland. I’d send out about three submissions, tailored to each agent’s requirements and when the rejections came in, I’d prepare the next three and so on. The rejections were lovely, kindly written and I knew that I wasn’t their fit. I’m waiting for another two responses at the moment.

That novel ‘The alien woman’ was the second novel I’d written. I began it in November 2012 and completed it after two re-writes to get the plots, subplots, and structure the way I wanted. As I’ve written about in previous posts, the creation of a ‘Fact Sheet’ was a turning point because there were so many subplots I needed to make sure all played out correctly and back stories fixed and set before the revisions would work.

I wrote a first draft of my first novel ‘The 13th vision’ in 2011 and did a second draft in 2012 but it wasn’t working and in November 2012 I took part in Nanowrimo (National Novel Writing Month) and started the second novel. I did it to prove to myself that I could write and wasn’t a one novel writer. I didn’t want to get bogged down working on one novel for years and not know how to progress it. Also, I figured that a first novel is like a first child, it’s your practice novel. So what better way to learn than starting a second novel and, with new skills on editing and re-reading every book I could lay my hands on about writing, I proved to myself that I could write another first draft.

That’s where the ‘Fact Sheet’ and my own version of a Beat sheet (see Nail your novel by Roz Morris) which I called my Scene and Chapter Intentions sheet were used (see also Scene Intentions) and I moved the second novel ‘The alien woman’ from first to second draft and sorted out structural issues until I was happy with it. The Fact sheet came out of feedback I got from a mentor through Artlinks and the Waterford County Council Arts Office. We were reviewing a draft of the Synopsis. She asked me many questions about aspects of the plot and back story and it made me realise that I kept changing things and needed to fix the facts of the novel (character facts, location facts, plots/subplot facts, back story facts, timeline etc…) before I could do a real structural edit. Once that was done, a full structural draft and then writing the Synopsis became much easier.

In November 2013, I started my third novel called ‘Things to fear’. This novel has been emerging out of me almost fully formed. I’d done a Character Journal and it helped me know my main character in advance before I entered her world. (A first draft does that as well, gives time with a character, a chance to see how they get on, react, live in the world we’ve placed them.) I’ve been a little slower finishing the first draft of this novel. I’m on Camp Nanowrimo since start of April and hoping to make a dent on the end of the novel.

But back to the statement above. I still don’t believe I’m a real writer. Perhaps it’s because I’m not published yet. I’d love to be published the traditional route but I realise that since I’m only starting out and the kind of science fiction/stories I write about may not be what the traditional route is looking for at the moment.

I know I haven’t written much in the last week because I’ve been doubting myself, about whether I’m any good at all, about my novels, my stories and whether anyone will even be interested in them. And whether I should give it up with the odds stacked against me making a living from being a novelist. And I keep thinking that if I complete another two more novels then I’ll have something to show for it and perhaps then I’ll be a real writer.

Heck, I already know what my fourth novel is going to be about. I’ll let you know when I’ve figured it out how to stop doubting myself.

Switch off ‘Doubt’

Inside my mind, before I write my novel, I sometimes get an intensive feeling of fear, self doubt, worry, anxiety. I can’t name it completely. I feel it in my chest and it sometimes stops me from writing completely. It’s writer’s block that seems to stem from insecurities inside me, from my fear of failure, something like that.

Whatever it is, it stops me from writing.

When I rationalise what it is, it seems to be some subconscious program from childhood that is running non stop and preventing me from remembering that I can write and I write well when this subversive little program isn’t running repeatedly inside my mind.

A simple childhood piece of programming that could be:

‘Do it properly or not at all.’

‘You’re doing it wrong.’

‘You can’t do this.’

‘You don’t know how to do this.’

And the more the program runs, the bigger the fear inside, the longer the feeling of numbness and then I hate myself when I realise that I haven’t done any writing that day and begin to feel like a failure. I resolve to do better the next day but the program runs again and the insidious fear overwhelms me and I can’t even start to write.

What if I could turn off that program? That little piece of programming?

Switch off ‘Doubt’.

Flick a switch in my mind to ‘Off’.

Imagine a switch that controls the fear.

Imagine turning the fear or doubt to ‘Off’.

Imagine it dissipating as fast as the light comes on and brightens that darkness.

Turn off doubt so I can write again.

So that I can believe that I can do this. I am a writer.

P.S. In the battle between doubt and hope, I’m backing hope.