As writers we tend not to discuss our feelings, but rather to analyze them like a third-party and then hand them off to a character to feel for us; or at least a good portion of us do. To that end, we tend to be in denial, at least publicly, about many of the emotional ups and downs of publishing, including those terrible book release jitters.
Whether it’s your first book or your third, when you put a book out it’s the same as taking a little piece of yourself and holding it out to the world for approval because, no matter what you write, some part of yourself is embedded in the words. And what if “the world” doesn’t like it? What if they reject it, or sneer at it, or call it “trite”, “cheesy” or even “terrible”?
Though we smile and say, “oh, it doesn’t matter. I don’t care if no one likes this; I’m writing for me.” We do care. Just like everyone else, we want to be accepted and loved, and that extends to our words because our words are part of us, and a rejection of those words is a rejection of ourselves, and who wants that?
Even worse, what if we have fans who liked the other book(s) but hate this one and suddenly turn their back and forsake us forever? What if we lose what fan base we’ve established? What if? What if? What if?
The what-if’s make it the worst. When there are too many possibilities, the imagination can shift into over drive and make up all sorts of terrible scenarios. After all, that overactive imagination is what prompted us to write that book in the first place, so why shouldn’t it be running full tilt now? How do you stop it?
I don’t know about you, but I can’t “stop” it, only distract it. I can try to “logic it away” by pointing out that the world won’t end, that it’s unlikely my five fans will hate it so much that they’ll walk away, and if they do, then I can surely go find five more somewhere else. And, just because they don’t like the book doesn’t really mean they don’t like me. Off the top of my head, I can’t think of an author whose every single book I’ve love, love, loved.
But logic can only go so far, and in the end the best way to work through it is to just work through it. Talk about it, write about it, blog about it. Break the “rules” and admit that you’re not an unruffle-able being with a stone heart and skin so thick that every sling and arrow bounces off it. Sure, we might think we’re supposed to be, we might be following the examples of industry leaders who sail on with their perfect persona’s in place, but I’d be willing to bet that even the calmest and coolest of the cool has lain awake at night, staring at the ceiling and wondering “what if?”
After all, as a writer words, and feelings, are our craft, so why are we all trying to hide from them?