Nothing to See Here

As I read about people submitting their books for consideration for awards like the Nebula or the ACFW's Carol, I have come to realize something.

I don't take myself very seriously as a writer.

This is clearly going to be a stumbling block for me, because being a new author is almost as much about self-promotion as it is about writing, or so it seems. When your reach is in its developing stages, like mine is, you have to constantly remain on the lookout for new connections you can make. That becomes incredibly hard when you look at your work and question whether anyone would actually like it.

Now, there are people out there who are probably stamping their foot at me and saying "Don't be a ninny! You have two novellas out there and a novel under contract. Doesn't that tell you at least SOMETHING?"

The trouble is, I've been very good at ignoring real evidence for a very long time. For example, as a child, I lived life cringing in fear, fear that stemmed entirely from a sense of insignificance. I was always afraid I would slip through the gaps between the bars in the storm drain grate. I hated trash day, because I was sure the trash collection guys were going to mistake me for a blowing bit of paper and throw me into the truck with its crushing, iron maw. I always hid when my mom vacuumed, because I was sure I was next to end up in the bag. I was always afraid I would be lost, or forgotten, or even deliberately abandoned. None of these things ever happened. And yet, I continued to fear them.

Now, I think I've worked through most of that (my poor husband!), but the lingering effect remains that I find it physically painful to ask anything of anybody. The prospect of imposing fills me with chest-squeezing dread.

My goal for the second half of this year is to deal with some of this on a book level by engaging in some self-guided immersion therapy. I intend to get into some venues where I can talk to folks about my work and what matters to me, whether that manifests as formal speaking engagements, panel discussions, or attending sci-fi and fantasy conventions remains to be seen. It's my hope that eventually I will be able to work up the courage to actually utter the simple words, "You should buy my book."

OK, if I'm being realistic, I may never say that precise phrase. People don't like to be sold, after all. But while I'm explaining my work to a new listener, I do hope to one day to think to myself, "They would like my books" and really believe it.

Comments

  1. Many of us have to work through the same type of feelings. The thing is, you are focusing on self. Step out in faith and don't worry if people like your book or not. Our goal is to please God, not man.

    I know it's easy to say and difficult to do. We just have to plunge in, even if the water is over our head!

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    1. All true word, Sheila. Being focused inward rarely helps matters, does it? I appreciate the kind reminder. :)

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  2. Sheila's right. You are a messenger of God. He gave you stories to deliver to the world. You don't have to do this for yourself. Do it for him.

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    1. I don't have to do it for myself or by myself, which is a comforting thought all around. Thanks for the wisdom!

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  3. I feel the same way so often. I've gotten over it to a certain degree--but I am still shying from certain situations. I can't get past not wanting to promote my stuff in places that aren't completely geared to my kind of writing.

    I do believe in starting small, and I'm moving forward bit by bit--but big pushes like speaking in schools in front of an auditorium of kids...well, that is likely going to have to wait until I've made it through some smaller venues. I did a tiny library event first, and then a private book party at a friend's house. My next event is a writers group that is considerably larger, but it's one I've attended quite a few times and I feel comfortable there. And in October--my first time in panels at a sf/f/h con.

    My advice would be to start where you are comfortable and then push yourself a little farther with each event. Build your confidence. You're already off to a good start!

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    Replies
    1. One of these days, I'm going to have to pick your brain about how you got that library event together. It sounds like a very manageable way to start where you are likely to gather people who truly do read together.

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