I had a conversation with a fellow author today, one who is a good friend of mine. We were discussing the hazards of even mild success (which is how I feel about my own), and some of the pitfalls.
See, we’ve both been struggling with the third books in our series. All kinds of worries and stresses have filtered into our writing lives, making the actual writing more difficult. When we both started out, all we wanted was to finish a book and hold that book in our hands. That was the epitome of success. Nothing more was really wanted.
Now, a few books into things and suddenly there are things like marketing, reviews, sales, ranks, and the near constant worry that the ball will be dropped and we will disappoint our readers. Or, for whatever reason, we just won’t create as good of a book the next time around.
Now, this was how I felt up until a couple of days ago. I struggled to write Ashes and Spirits, the last book in my Dragon’s Call trilogy because what if I screwed it up? What if I disappointed my readers?What if… It can run terribly rampant if you give it half a chance.
I also felt a great deal of stress over my next release. I have a paranormal romance coming out in March 2014. What if I didn’t write paranormal romance very well? What if the story I created was actually crap? And what if my fantasy readers were horribly disappointed that my next release isn’t Ashes and Spirits? That a paranormal romance was coming out before the final book in the Dragon’s Call trilogy?
And then I watched Neil Gaiman’s speech (the one I shared here on my blog and on my FB author page) and realized something. I had let a lot of unnecessary stupid stuff intrude into my writing. Do I still care about disappointing my readers? Of course I do, but I can’t think of that right now.
I’m taking myself back to when it was simple. I’m not worried about reviews or getting hung up on rank and where it is or where it might not be a couple of weeks or even months from now. I will market when I come across something that looks valuable but I’m not going to constantly beat the bushes for it anymore.
When I began writing Embers, which was my first book, I never thought it would be published in any way. I just had characters in my head and their story had to be told. Even if Embers had never made it off my hard drive, I would still have written all three books, because I had to and enjoy writing.
I got a three star review on Tears last night and I find that it in no way stings. I am totally unaffected by it. Why? Because I wrote the story in my head and in my heart. It isn’t going to be for everyone and that’s okay. Sales and good reviews are icing on a cake I’m already thoroughly enjoying each time I write and bring my story and characters to life.
Don’t get me wrong, I value each and every one of my readers beyond measure and believe me, I love it when I here from you.
But I’m going to immerse myself in my writing and go back to enjoying it. I’m going to have fun. Instead of dancing like no one is watching, I’m going to write like I have nothing published if you get what I mean.
I’m going to fall in love with my characters and story all over again. In the words of Neil Gaiman, I’m going to make good art as only I know how. I’m going to enjoy the success of merely holding my books in my hands. If sales and good reviews come, it will be sweet icing. If not, I still got to eat a lovely cake.