I like to think we all have a healthy fear of failure, but I know some of us have a bigger fear than others. Mine is kind of huge and it prevented me from doing a lot of different things with my life. Over the last month I've had to force myself to look that fear in the face and do what I've been dreading...read The Storm Inside.
I haven't read it since I wrote it. It was my first book. It was three years ago. And I haven't cracked that baby open and looked at it with two since I hit publish. Excellent sales, wonderful reviews, and heartfelt fan letters could not convince me that the words I put down in that book were anything but embarrassing (and no, I'm not talking about the smokin' hot sex scenes.)
I was paralyzed, so I ignored it. I didn't market the book the way I should have and as a result I've stunted my potential as a working writer. Over the holidays I had to take a long hard look at who I wanted to be. You can either be a successful writer who is proud of your entire body of work, blemishes and all, or you can hide in the shadows of "one day."
So I've done it. I've re-read the entire book (sometimes peeking through my fingers because WHAT THE HELL DID I WRITE? Someone start a cold shower, those sex scenes...Jake's story...their love??? Holy hell, what a book!)
I've given the whole series new covers and blurbs, and stepped outside of my own fears of failure because no one finds joy in hiding. Meanwhile I've been reading a half-dozen "first novels" from authors I consider my contemporaries and I learned a few things.
- It's enjoyable to watch the transformation of a writer through their books. I don't look down on those wonderful stories of love and triumph because of the typos or head hopping (it was only once.) I smiled because in the next book and the next book the writer grew stronger and my love of the author grew right along with it. I know I have readers who feel the same way. I love you guys.
- Most people don't notice the stray typo so I really, really, really need to stop acting like HRH Queen Gatekeeper of Novels is going to cast me out into the barrens of Never Writing Again and Laughed At in Infiniti. No really, every book has typos, even the #1 NYT Bestsellers. Some people read books and get their panties in a bunch over every little nuance, but most people just want a fucking good story. Write a good story. Hire good people. Do better when you know better. Keep moving forward.
- I don't take my own advice. I give pretty good advice, but I let my fear stop me from putting it in motion for myself. It's been a good lesson to see several of these authors take my advice and succeed. It was a good smack in the face to realize if I'd done the same thing I wouldn't have been cast out into the Barrens and might actually be pretty darn happy.
- I'm good at what I do (and I don't need anyone to tell me that.) I used to admire those people who could throw themselves onto the fire without thinking. How did they write a book, put it out there, tell everyone it was the best thing since sliced bread... and have people believe it? Sure, some of those books were awesome, but most of them? Average. Totally and completely average. But the author had brash confidence and took the audience along with her. It's taken a bolt of lightning and seeing my writing critiqued for me to realize that no one needs to give me permission to say my stories are good. No one but me is in charge of being proud of my work. My success is entirely up to me. I'm write damn good stories.
- "Fear is the Enemy" is not just a saying people throw around. Fear is the wall that stands between failure and success. Which side do you want to stand on? Do you want to live in the shadow of fear, or do you want to put that behind you and stand in the sun? (I live in Florida, I can tell you the sun is very enjoyable.)
Putting The Storm Inside out all over again has already transformed my life. It has sat in the iBooks Top 5 in UK for the last week and Reflected and Lightning have jumped up the paid charts...reminding me that the only one holding my books back is me. It was terrifying to re-read my book, but it's turned into a lovely experience to re-edit the books. The new paperback proof is on the way to my mailbox right now. I'll be sure to share the pictures with you all when it gets here!