In a couple of weeks, I will reach the one year mark for the publication of my self-published YA novel The Sharing Moon. It’s been a year of ups and downs and quite a learning experience to say the least! I’ve put a lot of heart and soul into the entire experience and decided to list some of the good and bad things I learned but have helped me grow in my creativity. So read, learn, enjoy, hate, complain, brag, love, share and be a narcissist. Because at some point in the gist of being a writer, all of those and more will become part of who you are. Well, some of you. Okay, maybe only a few. Anyone??
Great reviews. Goodreads. Of course. When a reader can’t wait to describe your characters and feels a connection to the story it’s such a good feeling. Beyond good. It makes the whole experience worth it. Even though you love your book, it doesn’t mean anyone else will. So to receive credit and gushing, it’s a dream come true. But I still haven’t gotten a hot model giff in one of my reviews. Those are the reviews that readers feel warrant an internet search to find the best looking boy who embodies your male character. One day….
Feeling accomplished. It might be a pipe dream but just do it! I always wanted to publish a book. If I had a nickel for every time I said that, or someone else I know said that, I’d be very rich and could buy my own publishing company and ask John Green to be my CEO. He would have a hard time deciding, I just know it. Really, though, to see your work in print, in a library, (Mine, mine) in a store or in an online store (whose name is internationally known and comes with quite a sense of the wow factor. Don’t we all want to be ordered from B&N?) Amazon, anyone? Powell’s books anyone? Kobo–okay, okay. Enough. There is nothing like seeing yourself on the page of B&N, even if they can’t stock your book “just yet.” I’ve been hearing just yet for a long time. I wonder when yet became an eternity?
Falling in love with make-believe people. I tell you, I’d adopt or date or stalk my own characters. Maybe I’m the only one, but to hear others love them too is an added bonus. One reader said she’d make my main guy hers if he were alive. Another said she totally felt close with my main girl because her parent died as well. Those are fabulous compliments, no matter how small. Because my characters aren’t real and never will be. But I think about them all the time, even after a whole year. Sometimes I want to make them come alive, but I have to rein it in so that I don’t appear a little loony. They truly are people I stole a bit of myself to create and I’m never going to fall out of love with them. Ever. Even hearing songs I heard while writing still brings back many memories.
Therapy. Writing and staying up late and talking about my book was an escape. Sometimes my husband and family suffered the consequences but I kept going. Now they are more than proud of me. Escapism is fine in moderate doses. But sometimes I traveled far away and didn’t return for a while. I found a way to balance it this time around and it works a whole lot better.
The dark side:
Bad reviews. Goodreads. When I got my first one, I thought I’d cry but I got angry instead. On another note, she still liked my main character. At least that’s something. Realizing that readers can be your worst enemies is a hard concept to swallow when you publish. I’ve taken solace in the fact that all but two of my reviews on Goodreads, Amazon and B&N have been great. I read them over again when I feel like a failure or need inspiration. I haven’t cried yet but I’m sure I will at some point.
The ability to not land an agent/rejection. Query letters are up there with cavity fillings. You have to endure them but they’re necessary. Getting a cavity filled while composing a query letter must be excruciating! Agents are not necessary if you self-publish but they sure make it easier to get in the stores. They can make or break you. They know all the big people. However, a few SP authors have made it very big, (Jamie McGuire, for one), and they started out in their own house typing up a dream. If you can’t get an agent to read your work, don’t rub elbows with someone who works for one, have taught at a university or co-hosted morning network television, it’s probably not going to happen. Don’t give up, though, right? One day that response might come through in an email that opens up with “I’d like to see the rest of your manuscript, it sounds interesting….”
Writer’s block. If you are at page 276 (ahem) and can’t stop looking back and revising and second guessing, it’s painful. Maybe more than rejection/cavity filling pain. I hate it and wish it away every day it happens but procrastination is writer’s block best friend and I am defenseless. I have been for two months now, considering my personal deadlines have all bypassed my mental calendar. I guess you can’t run away from it. Just wait it out. No matter how long. And seek company with other miserable writersblockheads. Hopefully those who read Book One will remember enough if they buy Book Two.
However, I’ll take this year of hopes and mistakes and tuck them away in order to mold what kind of writer I became and will still become. I can’t believe I did it, and will always pride myself on fulfilling my dream. Now I just need to keep up better on my blogging. That’s why this is such a long one.
Be safe and be good and be all you want to be.