Inside the Head of a Normally Balanced Writer When Doubt Strikes

So, I received my very first proof copy of Moose Tracks on the Road to Heaven this morning (isn’t it pretty? LOL).imageimage

In the thirteen years since my first book was published by HarperCollins (Secret Vows, back in 2001), I’m often asked what it’s like to see one of my books in a store or hold it in my hands. The answer has never changed, from that first book to this, my eighth published novel: It’s a combination of pride, excitement, pleasure…and a tangled mess of doubt and worry.

I suppose it’s all part of the paranoia of any creative person. I’m not usually bothered much by the creep of insecurity, but there are moments when it pokes up its dark little head. Seeing one of my finished books for the first time is often one of those rare occasions…which is good for me, because it’s often tempered by those other, far more positive emotions I mentioned feeling at the same time.

With this book, the doubts are perhaps a little stronger, probably because it’s been so long for me since I’ve had a new book out (the last, “first-time-I-held-a-new-book-I’d-written” was back in 2006, in fact) and because this book is quite personal and a totally different genre from what I’ve published before.

So, where does the doubt come from, for authors who experience it?

imagesIn part, it’s the natural worry that no one will find or read your book. Or that those who do won’t like it. If they write a review, they might call your baby “ugly” LOL. That’s all par for the course, and something you just need to accept and get over, if you intend to have a career in writing (or any other artistic endeavor. You’ll never please everyone all the time – and sometimes the reviews have more to do with the reviewer than the work being critiqued…but that’s a whole other post).

Another part for me, though, comes in looking through the finished product. It’s easy for forget that those pages took a long time to craft (years in this case, for me). It looks like a real book for the first time, instead of just scenes in my head or typed out on 8.5 x 11 paper. It’s polished and tweaked and some of the writing sometimes kind of catches me by surprise, since I’d forgotten I’d written it that way and I really like it.

It’s the sense…that niggling voice in the back of my head that says, “This is it. You’re done. You’ll never be able to write anything this good again.”

It’s a weird sensation, because as mentioned, at the same time that’s going on, the other voices are telling me it’s “not good enough”. That no matter how much heart, time, and craft I put into it, it’s still sub-par and no one will even “get it”, forget about “like it”.

Weird, I know. But pretty common, if what I hear from other authors is true.

I’m a pretty upbeat person. I like to look at the bright side and try to make the best of situations. These kinds of moments are one of the few times I feel a sense of kinship with the old stereotype of the paranoid, emotional basket case, volatile writer, crying and shouting and grinning and flailing about in despair all at the same time. It’s like a party in my head with multiple personalities duking it out for precedence. 🙂


Photo from”Xena: Warrior Princess”

So, in a nutshell, that’s what it’s like to have “birthed” a book baby. Things will settle down eventually. I’m already in the process of dragging out my old armor; soon I’ll throw it on, and secure it nice and tight, to try to deflect some of the inevitable blows of harsh reviews from professionals or regular readers…or worse the silence because no one is reading it at all.

stock-photo-love-book-1If I’m fortunate, some readers will like this book…some might even love it and be moved to write to me about it or write a positive review on amazon or elsewhere. For some reason, it’s always harder to believe the happy voices than it is to hear the negative ones, but I suppose that’s part of human nature as well.

It’s all part and parcel of being a published author.

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