Nervous

Dorothy Parker once said,

“If you have any young friends who aspire to become writers, the second greatest favor you can do them is to present them with copies of The Elements of Style. The first greatest, of course, is to shoot them now, while they’re happy.”

This statement cracks me up.  I think it would crack any writer up.  Most of us are cracked anyway, so it’s no big deal.

When I first began writing, I had no idea what a soul-lashing, confidence-thrashing, oftentimes sadistic past-time it would become.  Then, somewhere along the way, it became more than a simple pastime.  It became an occupation.  Something I did with the regularity of a part-time job…without the obvious benefit of a part-time job (ka-ching).

Even so, I keep at it.  All of us writers do.  Because as much as a roller-coaster the process can be, and as bitchy as the muse can sometimes get, something about it gets under our skin.  It becomes impossible not to write.  When we stop writing, our interior wells become stagnant.  Eventually that stagnation eeks out of us in the form of grumpy, brooding, disagreeable behavior.

Most of us write because we genuinely love to write.  We spend ungodly amounts of time, butt planted in a chair, hammering out words (half the time telling ourselves that it’s all rubbish, utter crap).  We spend equal amounts of time reading other peoples words, reading about writing, re-writing what we’ve written based on what other people have written about writing.  We’re obsessively in love with what we do.  Sometimes the obsessive outweighs the love; sometimes it’s the other way around.

This makes us – or me, anyway – insanely overprotective of what we’ve written, sometimes seasoned with dashes of debilitating lack of confidence.

I’m nearing the place where I’m ready to have my WIP read by beta-readers.  My dear, sweet friend Emily – who is always one of my biggest cheerleaders – will be reading it, once again.  Bless her heart, she’s read so many versions of this story, she’s probably ready to change her name and head for the woods at the thought of doing it again.  :)  I love her for her willingness.  And I’m hoping to put a couple pairs of fresh eyes on it this time around, too.

But I’m nervous as all get-out.

Where are you at in the process of doing what you love?  I know many of you writerly types get what I’m saying!  And I can’t believe the concept is restricted to the writers in the crowd.  I want to hear about the thing you’re doing right now – the project you’re in the middle of, the dream you’ve been toying with…what’s your process like?  Relate with me, so I can feel better about feeling nervous.  :)

41 thoughts on “Nervous

  1. Sweet girl, I totally relate to you! I’ve got my WIP out to a beta reader right now and it’s hard because if I don’t hear from her I start to panic. She put the book down! She’s bored! Why doesn’t she text me? Um, probably because she has a life, is moving from a 2400 sqft home into a 1300 sqft cottage and is totally stressed out. Still… my book should be engaging enough to keep her reading, right? ;)

    Ah, the stories we tell ourselves. Right now i’m trying to find another 100,000 words I can cut from this beast. As god is my witness, I will never pants a novel again! I’m going to be a plantser and plot a little next time. Or a lot. This editing thing sucks big time. Where was Dorothy Parker when I needed her?

    You’re book will be amazing, you’ll be fine, and life will carry on until you write the next one and they cycle starts all over again. Writing is fun!

    • Oh my goodness. Waiting to hear back is the worst. If I don’t hear back immediately I always assume that my writing is the equivalent to an ape flinging its memoir onto the zoo wall with poo. Awesomesauce. I feel your pain.

      Cutting 100,000 words??!! That hurts just to look at! I’m a panster, too, and had to do some major chopping/revision with the project I’m working on, too. Such hard, painful work. Trying to chalk it up as my learning curve – next time around I’ll be SOOO much better at it, right?? :)

      Right….

      Love you Tameri!

  2. I totally get what you’re saying. Lisa and I are in the process right now of placing our co-written “baby” in front of agents. It’s sadistic really what we writers do to ourselves. As much as you expect rejection, you know not everyone will love your book and that even the NYT bestsellers were turned down multiple times, each rejection that comes in feels like grinding out a piece of your heart with a spoon. And yet we keep going back for more. Definite gluttons for punishment :)

  3. Oh yeah, Myndi, word up … or something like that … Your post is gospel. Writers do share all of those masochistic, sadistic, tendencies and yet we love what we do, most of the time. When it’s time to put our work out there I always feel it’s akin to taking your clothes off in public – all of them – and at my age that’s not a pretty sight!
    I’m into what I believe is the final third of my next novel … about 30,000 words to go … but then it might turn out I’m only halfway through … yikes! gotta get back to it …

  4. The fact that you have nerves is a good thing … means what you, your novel, you care about intensely and have put your heart out on the line for it. That fact alone gives your baby life!

    I was where you were with my mystery. Some people read it and I got nice feedback. It’s still not ready (IMO) and I believe I know how to fix it, but I spent so long with those people that I’ve put them in time-out until I can stand them again. haha! Really, the book needs to be stronger, so I’ll go back and strengthen her up and send her on her way. But first, in the mean time ….

    I have a brand new baby I’m working on that I affectionately call Ninja-Chick! And hold the phone, I’m plotting this one! Woo. So, when I finish it later this year (Late summer/Fall??) it will be in better shape for editing and beta-readers. I’m excited.

    Back to you! You are a witty, talented writer. Your story premise sounds wonderful. Your jitters are healthy and I’m sure it’s truly great and you just want everyone else to know that it is along with you. :) And, I’m sure they will. Oh, and if some bits can be better, you’ll figure it out and fix them. I have zero doubts in you! HUGS

    • I love that all us writers are in the same crazy-@$$ boat. ;) I’ve spent a lonnnnng time with these characters, too, so I know what you mean. I have to re-commit to them every time I open my laptop. But I can’t let myself start a new project until this one’s done (sometimes I wish I could, but my OCD temperament won’t let me go there. :D) Thanks for the encouragement, Ginger! I can’t wait to see what you’re working on, too!!

  5. Yep! All that! Where am I? I’m revising (for the thousandth time I swear) my WIP (it’s been seen by a few beta readers), I have a complete rough draft of the next one and am trying to plot a third and fourth totally unrelated ones. AND trying desperately to write two short stories which I’m finding much harder than writing a novel. Why is that?!

    Thank heaven for beta readers!

    • HA!!! Short stories…oh my goodness, don’t get me started!! It’s so weird – I’m not great at talking to people or telling stories audibly (I get all tongue-tied and giggly), but when I’m writing, I become RIDICULOUSLY long-winded. I’ve had to learn how to be cruel to myself with a red pen because of it…and I still can’t imagine managing a short story. I’m in awe of your writing pipeline, Miss Melinda!!

  6. I have been there far too often, but, eventually you do develop a thick hide. I try to listen to what everybody says, even the ones who hate my stuff. There might be a grain of something useful in their words. That’s doesn’t mean I’ll necessarily do what they say, but I do try to listen. It took a while for me to stop hiding, and even longer to stop shooting, but I got there and so will you. Be strong, my ink stained sister, I can tell by the writing style in your blog that your stories will be great reading.

  7. Yep, you nailed it Myndi. We writers are cracked, that’s for sure! lol!
    But I love creating the story, getting to know my characters, and seeing them through to the end… or at least to the next book in the series. But it can be nerve-wracking.

    I’m in the last stages of my first draft. I have lots of revisions and editing ahead of me, but I can’t wait to get to the stage where I need beta-readers. Though it can be scary to have your work read by others, I know that their feedback is potential for making the book even better. So I keep my mind on that aspect while I pace a hole in the rug waiting for them to call! LOL!
    I have no doubt that your book will be great. Your writing style is so inviting, I can only imagine that your novel is the same. Make sure to keep us up-to-date on where you are with it.

  8. Well said, Myndi. I empathize. Self-doubt–not only related to writing–is common to all of us.
    In my case, the act of writing and the satisfaction I get out of it compensate for all the other crap. I also realized that writing is one of the few aspects of my life to which I accept criticism with objectivity. I still fret about my words, but I learned to distinguish between “are they going to like it?” and “is it good?”
    The thing I can’t overcome is my fear of making a crass mistake and looking stupid. This one is not going away anytime soon :- )

  9. I’m so there with you. I get it. I am in the process of editing my baby, again. I know I need to be cutting, but I want to change some things which has me adding as well. Ugh! Some days I wonder if it will ever get there.

  10. Oh do I ever relate to what Dorothy Parker said. That’s scary. And I am right where you are Myndi. I’m waiting on Donna Newton to let me know what she thinks about my WIP. And she says she’s a slow reader. Say what? I’m in torment here! It’s a good thing she lives far away or I would have gone over to her house and stuck a bomb under her butt! LOL! Not! But you know what I mean. It’s driving me crazy! So I’m trying to concentrate on my next story to pass the time. And I need to move forward with it anyway.

    Hey, what’s up with baby girl, btw? Aren’t you due soon? Like six weeks or so? Inquiring minds want to know! :)

    Take care Myndi! Let’s stick together and hold each other up!

    • Hang in there! I’m sure she’ll come back with some crazy-good feedback. It’ll be worth the wait!

      Baby girl is good. Getting bigger, and slowly dropping. It should only be a few (maybe a couple) weeks now. If I’m more absent than normal from commenting on your blog/FB/twitter, just know I <3 you and will be back at it full swing in a couple months!

  11. ha! Love that quote.
    I have lost that happy-go-lucky feeling to writing. I know what it takes to get published, and it’s quite a long up-hill journey.
    That said, I still get the butterfly-tingles in my stomach as I’m writing sometimes, and a sense of euphoria after I’ve finished a draft. Writing still makes me happy. So happy.
    I’m so excited for you! That you’re sending your work out. After you get the critique/edits back, be sure to take a deep breath and take a walk and let the helpful ones sink in and let the other ones roll off your back.

    • Ah, yes. The infatuation stage is gone for me, too. I still dig the writing/creating/making-someting-new/making-something-better thing, but I’m no longer kept up at night marveling at my own creative genius. :)

      And you’re totally right – long walks are a good way to shake off those well-intentioned comments that have a way of digging deep into the uncomfortable places in a person’s brain. I’ve pounded out more than a few miles to that tune!! :)

  12. I wrote all the way through school, and I remember my family (my dad especially) asking me when they could read one of my “stories.” I always said, “When it’s done.” Since I was writing a novel, that took a while. And when I did print it and gave it to them for Christmas, I tiptoed around for the rest of the week, trying not to watch them read and yet desperately wanting to know what they thought. They loved it, of course. Yet it doesn’t get any easier sharing my work. In some ways, it’s actually easier to put it out there for strangers to read, because I don’t care as much what they think about it.

    Right now, I’m taking two writing workshops where we write lots of stories and share them with our classmates. It’s hugely interesting to get back 12 or 15 different opinions and comments on my stories. At the same time, because they are all writers – and I get to comment on their stories – I’m perfectly okay with sharing my work with them and I respect their opinions. I have a few other trusted friends whom I’ve asked to read my stuff, though like you, I wonder if they ever get tired of that request! :)

  13. I am just getting started in the whole process and it’s inspiring and exciting to read about someone whose at the beta stage. Squeee…it’s a roller coaster but it’s so worth it! Excited for you!!!!

  14. This was such a beautiful post! I don’t think the nerves are ever going to go away. The point of them, though, is to make you realize how much you *care*. That’s the important thing: to know how much all of this means to you. After that, everything will fall into place.

    I get a little nervous about beta readers, but I get even more nervous about sending my work out to agents/publishers. Yikes! I’m totally not ready for that yet, but when I am I know I’ll be a mess. It’ll totally be worth it, though. Never gonna give up!

  15. True words. For me, I’m getting ready to have a month off during which I’ll spice up a manuscript I wrote before and try to do something with it. The writing is one thing – easy, pff! – the doing something, not so much.

  16. Hey, kiddo,

    Just coming up from air after 19,904 words last week and 5,092 words today. No this is not usual for me and the reason I’m telling you is because I totally ‘get’ what you’re saying in this post.

    Ten weeks ago I sent out my last completed wip to three beta-readers. I don’t send anything out to them until it’s been edited (in this case EIGHT times and revised AGAIN) copy edited and proof read. All of a sudden the structuring of character development and the arc, the layering, the tension, the whole !$%%**!!$ story made sense and jelled and worked. It had already come back from a publisher this last time last year telling me the theme was one they wouldn’t touch and that the characters were not well enough developed. BUT that they loved my voice and writing and to please submit again. In the meantime, the publishing world changed on its axis. Publishers are not taking on new authors unless they’ve made a name for themselves etc. blah blah blah. Anyway I changed the theme and did what the lovely editor lady said. So that was the story that went out to three beta readers who are in my targeted demographic, three women in their twenties who do not know each other and are not related to me by blood. They know their stuff and never pull their punches so I expected to be bruised and bloodied – it’s happened before.

    For seven days I heard nothing, nada, not a sniff. Then in the space of twenty-four hours I received three phone calls. I swear to God, Myndi, I cried like a baby because they not only loved it, they LOVED it. So, what did I do? I’ve put it away and am almost finished story number two which is what I’m working on now and the same !$%%**!!$ thing has happened – it’s jelled, it’s come together and after a few weeks of editing and layering this story will go out to them. I hope they like it as well as the other one.

    Three more stories are under construction with the first discovery drafts and first edits done. BUT the good stuff happens now because I know exactly where I’ve gone wrong and what needs fixed.

    If I hadn’t sent out that ms to a publisher I’d never have moved forward and learned so much from the rejection. But the man who has really put his toe up my backside (in a good way) is James Scott Bell’s Art of War for Writers. I think we need to be at a certain level in our writing to truly get what he’s saying.

    If I hadn’t sent my story out to my beta readers I’d never have known that I can actually DO this. And I’m self publishing which is why I want five under my belt. I also write Fantasy and a whole new world has been constructed over the last four years and I can’t wait to dive into it.

    Sorry for the war and peace answer, but please keep sending stuff out there. You never know when it will ring someone’s bell. GOOD LUCK with it and the expectant delivery by the stork!

    Hugs xxxx

  17. I’ve been doing this for 12 years and “I-Suck-Syndrome” never goes away! I have one project with my wonderful and awesome copyeditor who’s always 100% supportive and kind, so I’m not too worried there, especially since it got very enthusiastic feedback from the beta readers. But I have another project with new beta readers who aren’t writers, and you bet I’m nervous about that one! I’m sure your beta readers will love your story, and offer good feedback – here’s hoping it comes soon!

  18. The fact that you’re nervous tells me you’re heart and soul is in it. There’s something way more enticing and endearing reading something that means so much to someone. I like it before I’ve read one word just knowing how loved it is already. I have full confidence that it’s awesome because you’re awesome. Anything you create will automatically have an awesome quality. It’s just a natural thing….It’s like when you have 2 gorgeous people, it’s almost impossible for them to create an ugly child ;)

    My WIP’s are fitness and nutrition related mostly. I have goals that I’m working toward in both arenas. My processes are sometimes productive and other times, my journey has so many detours it’ll be a miracle if I ever get to that stinkin’ destination!!

    The part that screws me up is I have a laundry list of things to do in fitness, nutrition, to my home….That I keep thinking, I just need to get the home stuff done, then I can focus on the nutrition……I just need to get the nutrition stuff done, then I can focus on the fitness….problem is, the home stuff never ends….the nutrition stuff never ends….the fitness stuff takes too much structured training I don’t have time for with 2 young children. Anyway, this comment is getting too rambly….

    Trust in yourself……we all do and some of us have never had the fortune to actually get a real life hug from you :) ***mmmwwwaaaahhhh***

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