Fears and Doubts

Now that the initial excitement of publishing my book is over, the miscellaneous fears and worries have begun to set in. Yes, I know the most shocking thing is I actually gave myself 24 hours to be happy about it without any fears or worries!

What are my fears and worries? Since I love a good list, here they are, itemized in such a format:

1. No one will read my book. I think this is probably a common fear that most writers have. Is it a founded fear? Somewhat, I think. Marketing yourself is hard and annoying work. It’s the reason I went through massage therapy school but never actually became a massage therapist. As soon as we got to the class where we had to make booklets and coupons and do our business model, I was done. (And as a general rule, if any activity involves math, I’m done with it before I even start.) Nevertheless, I am now challenging myself to do one thing every day to market my work.
1a. I also used to use this excuse as a reason not to write, which is obviously stupid because if you don’t go through publishing your book, then there’s zero chance anyone will read it.

2. People will read my book and hate it. Is it a founded fear? Yes, it’s entirely possible. I was happy when all my test readers (who read the second draft) came back only with praise, constructive criticism, and helpful suggestions. But I admit I do have a somewhat fragile ego, so here’s hoping I will be properly stocked up on antidepressants and chocolate when that happens.

3. I am the vampire novel equivalent of a one-hit wonder. Is it a founded fear? I hope not. This is the only fear I have that I do have absolute control over. The idea of taking time off from writing is an attractive one, particularly since I had to read New Blood about 186 times over the last three weeks. Possibly 183 of those reads were unnecessary, but I’m an editor, and that means I can’t leave well enough alone. So, my goal over the next day is to get back to Wild Blood, which is the next book in the series. I’m more than halfway done with the first draft, so I’m hoping to be done with this draft completely in a month or so.

And now I had better stop posting in this blog and start writing!

Putting Pen to Paper: My Outdated Writing Process

Crazy as it may seem, I just cannot write on a computer. I have never been able to. I mean, sure, I can write nonfiction stuff like blog posts, personal emails, lists of good names for goldfish (Fluffy being my favorite), but I absolutely, positively, cannot write anything in the way of fiction on a computer.

When I look at the blank page, I feel this overwhelming sense of panic. The blinking cursor is mocking me. “There is no way for me to fill up that screen with text!” I think, getting more frantic by the minute. Finally, I just give up and post something obnoxious on Facebook instead.

So how exactly do I go about writing? The good old pen and paper! The actual pen type has changed a few times over the years, but it must have black ink and a fine point. The paper must be in a notebook. Specifically, it must be in one of those old school black and white marble notebooks.

There are some definite pros to writing a first draft in this manner. It’s very portable, and unlike a computer, you don’t need to worry about it losing charge. Also, a person scribbling frantically in a notebook looks slightly crazy, so if you are writing in public, other people tend to stay away from you. Another benefit is that you will have the satisfaction of seeing a stack of full notebooks by the time you are finished with your book.

Of course I only write my first draft by hand—I’m not completely crazy! Once I get to those magical and often elusive words, “The End,” I am then free to use my computer to go back to the beginning and type everything in. Because I’m already done with my first draft, I don’t get panicked using to computer to type in my second draft. In fact, I feel this process is very helpful, as I get the bulk of my edits done at that point.

So what are the cons to writing longhand? Obviously, at some point your hand will get cramped, and you will be forced to take a break, whether you want one or not. I even went through a period in my early twenties when I tried to teach myself to be ambidextrous to deal with these hand cramps. Another drawback is a decreased word count per day. When I hear fellow writers tell me they wrote 3,000 words in one day, I am somewhat jealous. My poor right hand would never be up to that task.

Yet, I continue to write longhand, even if it slows the process somewhat. The truth is that I’ve always loved the physical process of writing. Someone once asked me why I became an editor (the paid job I have in my real life). My reply was: “I like writing on paper with a red pen.” Except for the somewhat demented glee I feel at catching a spelling error, the act of writing on paper is one of the only true joys I feel as an editor.

But taking a momentary step back from my own particular peculiarities, many writers do still carry a small notebook with them in order to record ideas for future or current projects. Plus, I have heard it mentioned that both Neil Gaiman and Stephen King both write by hand, so I am in good company. And this article (http://theweek.com/article/index/207846/how-writing-by-hand-makes-kids-smarter) talks about the importance of writing by hand in the learning process.

So until the day comes when the technology exists to transmit the thoughts in my brain directly onto my computer, I am not ready to give up ye old pen and paper.  At least I use a ball point and not a quill!