I did it, what every writer dreams. I published a book. Now, I could go into the long, laborious process, but the important part is that it’s done. No one ever told me how draining it would be.
My book comes out next week. There is literally nothing else I can do to it because it’s out of my hands at this point. The publishers have every edit, and the book is printing more copies as I type this. The book that’s about to come out has been my baby for literal years. I’ve put blood, sweat, and tears into the type-text document, and it kinda feels like it is no longer mine. It’s about to be unveiled as something in and of itself to the world.
I almost feel sick. Is this anxiety creating a home in the pit of my stomach or just the tiredness that’s worn its way into my bones? Soon, people will be able to read a story in a world that I dreamed up in my head. What if they don’t like it? Is that going to feel like a piece of rejection to my soul?
When I got the news that the publishers loved my manuscript, I was relieved. Is that weird? I know what every upcoming writer hears: every “no” is just another step on the path to an eventual “yes.” That’s for the writers that end up making it, but most people ignore that unspoken condition. I made it. Somehow, in some way, someone wanted to hear the story pouring from my soul. Getting that “yes” was like hearing a confirmation from the universe that my time hadn’t been wasted on a pipe dream. Yet, I’m freaking out about the dream truly coming to fruition.
Maybe every negative response planted tiny seeds of doubt in my mind. Rationally, I know there are a million reasons for every “no.” But nothing I’m feeling right now is following that particular line of thought. On the eve of everything, maybe my anxiety is the specialized plant feed allowing those seeds to bloom.
I imagine all writers feel this way, especially newly published authors. On one hand, there is this brimming excitement for everything to come. But lurking in the shadows is this larger feeling of self-doubt, a fear that’s rooted in anxiety. As I look out my window, I see the twilight hues painted in the sky, and I can’t help but think of how it’s similar to my mind. Darkness is looming over the light and excitement underneath, provided by a metaphoric sun.
The reviews are in. For the most part, people liked my book! They enjoyed its weirdness, something I was worried about, and some people have written that they want to read whatever I come out with next. My publishers are included in this group. Over the last couple of weeks, they’ve been telling me about how well the book has done. So much so, they want to know what to expect next.
Here’s the thing: I don’t know what comes after this. The cynical voice in my head barely thought I would get this far, and the time beyond this point, actually having a book published, seemed so far out of reach for such a long time. What comes next?
I don’t know what I expected. On some level, I know how business works. My book sold well, so they want more material so they can sell more books and make more money. Maybe I expected some kind of break, like a press tour, where something new and great wouldn’t seem like such an immediate, pressure-inducing idea. But that’s not what’s happening.
When I came up with the idea for my book, I felt like it was something that hadn’t been done before. It was new, exciting, and stood out from all the other ideas that I shelved to work on this one shining thing. But now that idea is done. I put so much effort into my book; how do I come up with something else so soon? Plus, there is the added pressure of the follow-up. It can’t be something that dulls by comparison, like they say sequels often do. If I really want to make it, the idea has to be great.
Over the last little while, my publishers have been progressively emailing me more often under the guise of a status update. How are you doing? How is the writing going? Basically, it’s code for what they actually want to ask: Have you come up with anything yet?
The answer is a hard no, but I don’t want to tell them that. So instead, I say that I’m not ready to share it yet. The idea isn’t complete enough, and I will let them know when it is. The key idea being that I will let them know, not the other way around. Unfortunately, that tactic doesn’t exactly seem to be working on them. Maybe they’ve heard it all before.
Since nothing is happening with the blank word document in my office, I’ve decided that I need a change of scenery. Maybe something more inspirational. Yes, writing about my anxiety is kind of amusing, but it’s not necessarily productive.
My favourite cafe is a writer’s dream. There is freshly made baked goods, free Wi-Fi, and coffee available at all times of the day. The wood-covered walls create a cozy feel, but the light coming from the windows prevents it from seeming too dark. I spent a fair amount of time here writing my novel. It’s one of my favourite places. Hopefully, something here will strike up some of that inspirational writing magic.
For a while, I’m sitting there doing the same thing I did in my office: staring at an intimidatingly empty document that’s trying to eat my soul alive. Only, this time I did it while drinking fancy coffee. I was still staring blankly when my inspiration appeared right in front of my eyes, quite literally.
It struck me like a bolt of lightning; that is, if a person walking into a cafe to stand in line can be a bolt of such light. Across the room, a frazzled-looking girl tucked her medium-length brown hair behind her ear. With this one fact, it doesn’t seem that impressive. Like at all. What is impressive, though, is the fact she looked just like a character I could never place in a setting I could never get quite right. Her encounter with the confident guy standing behind her seems like the inciting incident for an idea I once had, which is currently stored anyway in an old notebook. The two strangers share an oddly long stare, and the possibility of the written moment hits me like a ton of bricks. I know what my next book is going to be about.
They say you shouldn’t wait for inspiration to find you. Writing takes work, pushing through the walls in your head to create something beautiful, inspiring, or tragic. But maybe, sometimes you do need to wait for the right bolt to find the idea that’s lingering just beneath the surface of your thoughts. Maybe one shock can be a temporary cure to a writer’s anxiety-ridden dreams of other worlds.