Friday, October 17, 2014

The Downside to Letting it all Hang Out #publishedauthorproblems

Earlier this month I wrote a post about having great friends.  And I am lucky to have people in my life that I would consider part of my "ride or die" crew.  Yet this month's SXSW Collaboration, with fellow author Shannon Barczak ,provides a twist to that same concept; The close friends that are now our readers/biggest fans.

As always my response while appear in orange, wherre as Shannon's will be white.

When I decided to publish my first novel, Harlow Whittaker & The Soothsayers.  A thousand thoughts entered my mind.  They all were along the lines of, "Are you crazy, now everyone is going to read it, or no one is going to read it."  I was actually so self-conscious about putting three years of my imagination in print, out there that I didn't really tell anyone until it was already done and over with.  The people that did know before I actually published it were on a need to know basis and even that small tight-nit group was enough to cause me mini-anxiety attacks.  

For those of you who don't write, but sing, or draw, or play music, you can relate.  It's like letting the public read your journal.  The only thing worse than that are your friends and family reading your journal because they will actually know what you're referring to.  And they all think that a particular character, or song verse is about them.  

More confusing is, how elated you are that someone has read your work, even if it is your mom, but then it's swiftly regrettable because they then have their own ideas and perceptions of how they think the book should have been or what your marketing move should be.  They all have their own ideas and as a writer you have to stay true to your characters.  I definitely think that writing the second book of the Harlow Whittaker Trilogy was much easier than the first because I already knew where my characters were going.  

In contrast however working on the third book is difficult because I already have readers who have envisioned an ending and I had to stop and release their influence from my mind in order to complete the final installment because I wanted something that would be true to Harlow, Larken, Hendrix, Fin, Elias, and even Ezequiel.  

So as much as I love that people are reading what I wrote it does create a new obstacle; staying true to the story.  It's not my vision of where I think the characters or even the story should go, but if you're doing it right, it's the characters leading the writer through the story-Just as they do with the reader. 

I love the input, I love that something that I wrote creates such strong opinions in others, and even when I hear criticism I relish in it because it means that they actually care enough to read it.  But once it's time to sit and write I have to ignore all of that and ask the characters what their plans are.  

I love you all, keep reading an critiquing-I can take it.  

Stay tuned for Shannon's take on this, 

  1. To ask for with proper authority, claim as a right.
  2. To ask for peremptorily or urgently.
  3. To call for or require as just, proper, or necessary.

There is a moment when you are writing a book when you feel an almost expeditious fear. These words which you have slaved over are going to be read by hundreds, even thousands, of people. The worst feeling though is when you realize that individuals you know are going to pore over your thoughts and you now have opened yourself up to either criticism or adulation.
I remember when I was almost finished writing Isle of Skye. I was sitting by the fire late at night and all of a sudden I had this slight panic attack at the thought of putting myself out there. It was not even a thought in my mind when I started my book but the wave of reality that washed over me was terrifying.
I got over my fear once I published, but then something else reared its ugly head. I now had fans. I actually had people who I was not related too or friends with that really enjoyed my book. I was elated, but put them out of my head as I wrote Isle of Night. I knew exactly how this book was going to be written and I had not a care in the world about other people’s opinions.
Isle of Dawn, the third book in my trilogy was different. I felt an overwhelming pressure to complete the story with an ending that my characters and my fans deserved. I know that I took readers through a bit of emotional hell, but I finished it with a fairytale ending. I wanted to stay true to myself and the fact is, if you want a depressing or thought provoking ending, read Hemingway.
I’m in final edits for The Cursed Charm and I have heard a bit of feedback. Some of it I have listened too but some I have not. It’s always hard to explain to people that even though they might have questions or feel I may have left a few loose ends, I know precisely how this series is going to progress through all four books. I am not revealing everything in book one and I now have no doubts about the cliffhanger ending that I fretted about over the past few months.
I love my fans. I love my family and my friends, who have read my books and have given me an amazing amount of support, but I will not cave into peer pressure nor have I ever been one to respond well to demands or ultimatums. I started writing because I wanted to read something that I loved and believed in with all my heart.
I will always write for one person and one person only…and that’s me.

Friday, October 3, 2014

What Getting Rid of One Simple Phrase Says About You...

When you can have friends come over and the first thing out of your mouth isn't "Excuse the mess," you have accomplished two major things in life. 

  1.  You have found true friends. Real friends don't care what you or your kids look like. Or even what your house smells like they are stuck with you and you are stuck with them because the time for pleasantries has passed. You know that these people can watch you throw a grown up temper tantrum or have your credit card declined and they aren't going to turn up their nose. For whatever reason they love you and your quarks and just like you never feel the need to vacuum before they "pop in" they wouldn't even notice if you did. These are the folks you hang on to because without them you would sink.
  2.  You have reached a level of confidence just above I DGAF and Katy Perry's Roar. You are comfortable enough in your own skin that what material things you have and your attachment to said things is no longer the center of your universe. You know that you will be the same AWESOME version of yourself REGARDLESS of how much or little laundry you have done that week.

I love the moms that stand in front of me and say to my face how easy it is to keep their house spotless and their kid is in 5 extracurricular activities and they are pursuing a degree, working full time and still have hobbies I just smile with yesterday's soup in my hair and the same pajamas I went to bed in at 2pm and say, well my kids are alive and I read a book 2 years ago. 

It's not a competition and I'm happy for those moms that have it together. Does that mean I don't? No I just have different priorities. I would rather write a book or pursue another career rather than organize a kitchen that will soon have pots and pans scattered all over the floor once my toddler decides that he wants to explore his musically inclinations.

Be the happiest you can be, clean clothes, folded laundry optional, unless that is where you find your happy place of course. For instance I love to cook.  Baking makes me smile but if the very thought of putting a meal together fills you with anxiety and you're only doing it so that you come across in a positive light to someone else, then order take out. 
Just be you, that's all you should have to worry about, no more excuses.  Deal?