Friday, I committed an act that was one of the scariest actions I have ever taken. On Friday, I sent a draft of my first completed novel to beta readers for review. Seriously, the second I hit the send button my heart started racing and I couldn’t breathe. I thought I was going to pass out.
The fear I felt was some of the strongest fear I’ve ever experienced. I was so afraid the hear their criticism on my work. Criticism, I have to admit, that will only make my writing better. But I was terrified nonetheless. Terrified they would hate my work. My painstakingly hard work that I had spent countless hours to complete.
I’ve spent well over a year pouring my heart and soul into this writing project. I have spent countless hours writing and rewriting, plotting and re-plotting, over and over again until I felt I had it right. But then again, I’m not certain we, as writers, ever truly believe we have it right or that a project is truly finished. But at some point, we must put down our pens and put our trust in others with our work. We must take a leap of faith and go for it. We must decide to look out over that cliff and jump. I jumped on Friday.
I started outlining and plotting my current fiction project, The Bond Trilogy, in early spring 2016. I wrote the first complete draft of Volume I: The Blood Trials last November during NANOWRIMO 2016. I immediately started editing and realized that it needed much more than editing; it needed a complete rewrite from beginning to end.
At first, I felt very discouraged by the extensive rewrite that was necessary. I felt like a complete failure and I started losing all faith in myself as an author. I had to constantly remind myself that this was my first completed novel. No one hits a home-run right out to bat. In fact, my favorite famous author quote is from Ernest Hemingway, “The first draft of everything is shit.” This isn’t something he said just to make new authors like myself feel better about our writing. It’s true. Nothing is perfect the first time. It’s very far from it.
Eventually, I got over my anguish with my first draft horrors and I plowed through and rewrote the entire novel, all 80,000+ words. I don’t think a single sentence went untouched by my rewrite. I finished my first rewrite in April 2017. After this rewrite, I printed out an entire copy of my novel to read through. Reading it on paper was very different than reading it on the computer screen. I very quickly figured out that I needed another rewrite.
This second rewrite wasn’t as bad as the first one, but my novel still had glaring issues that needed to be addressed before I let another set of eyes take a peek at it. I took my time with this rewrite, I wanted to get this draft right. I finished that second rewrite last Friday, August 18, 2017 almost a year later after writing the first draft and a year and half after putting my very first character description down on paper and starting the outline.
If you haven’t figured it out by now, the time commitment to writing a novel is extensive. This is time away from family and friends. Time, we don’t get paid for unless we find success in publication. There is no guarantee that my book will be successful. There is no guarantee that any of my beta readers are going to like what I wrote.
So why did I do it?
Because it made me happy. The amount of joy I find in writing is immense. I can’t describe the level of happiness I find from putting words down on paper. I may never be a successful author. I hope so, because I would love to make a career out of writing books. I want nothing more than to spend my life doing something I love this much. Even if success does not come my way in publication, I will never stop writing books and trying. I will always be a successful author in my eyes. I took a leap of faith in myself. I wrote a book and I shared it.
If you find you’re sitting there feeling the exact same I felt, I encourage you to set your fear aside and take a leap of faith in yourself.