Wednesday, October 12, 2011

On Being Afraid

Confession time: I'm scared to write.

I was scared for most of the time while I wrote ACROSS THE UNIVERSE. Here's why: I had this big idea, and I was scared that I wouldn't do it justice. I was scared that I wasn't a good enough writer to write this novel--that this idea was better than I was.

I wrote it anyway.

And I was scared to query it. At the time, there was VERY little YA sci fi on the market. When I went to my local indie to look for comp titles, I came back with ENDER'S GAME and THE HOST. That was it. And some of my fears were valid: I still have the rejections I got from agents who said specifically that a space sci fi would never sell for the YA market. Those early rejections made me fear that my little novel, the one I'd slaved away on, would never sell.

I queried anyway.

Now I find myself facing the barrel of the gun on Book 3. It's crazy to me that I am working on the third book of the trilogy before most people have even seen the second. And...I am petrified. What if you hate it? What if you hate the second one and hate the third one even more? What if I take the story in a different direction from what you want? What if everyone hates it? What if it flops, and my publisher, who I love, doesn't love me back? What if I never sell another book again? What if I have to admit defeat and go back to the day job and reconcile myself to the fact that being a writer isn't for me? Even though I realllllly want it to be?

I'm writing it anyway.

And I know it's bad. I'm still working on the first draft, and it's kicking my butt. I have an idea of what I'd like to see happen, but it's the same thing with AtU: it's this big idea that I want to be able to write and do it justice, but I'm worried I can't. That I'm not good enough to tell this story.

I'm still writing it anyway.

I know fully that I might have to trash this entire draft. With A MILLION SUNS, I rewrote the novel from start to finish four times. I reckon only about 10-20% of the original novel is in the final version. And so, even as I work on Book 3, I know in the back of my head that I'm just taking baby steps up the foothills, not making the big climb to the summit.

When I sit down in front of my laptop, open Scrivener, and stare at the blank document, my stomach twists. It's this sick-anxious feeling. My hands shake a little. I think about throwing up. I jump up and pace the room.

All because I'm scared.

For all the reasons I listed here and more, I'm scared.

But I'm going to write it anyway.

And for the record? There's a little voice inside my head that is whispering: It wouldn't be worth it if you weren't scared. And every time I hear it, I smile. I sit back down. And I write some more.

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