If you’re thinking “why the terrible faux movie title” then I should probably point out that The Fear 1 is here.
Almost a year ago I blogged about how a certain, strange unease comes with reaching the next level in a writing career. You almost certainly wouldn’t know it at the time, amidst all the anguish of rejections and rewrites, but when you’re a rookie still looking for a publisher or agent there’s not actually any pressure to deliver, except in your own mind.
Then you get signed by a publisher with a fan base that guarantees thousands, indeed probably tens of thousands (and, I think in one case, over a million) readers. So it is with SciFi and Fantasy publisher Black Library. To equal parts shock and delight, I was signed up to their author pool in March last year.
The work since has been gratifying, enjoyable and pretty much constant. I have progressed from short stories (and the unique challenge of a short audio drama) to my first novels. I’m told that, if my debut does well, I’ll be looking at a series. Maybe even two separate ones.
Suddenly I’m where I always wanted to be. But The Fear (TM) is still very much there. A self conscious part of me still likes to tell the rest of my mind that I can’t really write, not well. And when my first novel hits the big-time shelves in Waterstones bookstores across the world, people are going to discover that en-mass. The editors will drop me like a hot potato, and my dreams will have been quashed just when they were getting started.
That, by the way, is definitely doing a great disservice to my editors, who are both lovely and talented. They likely wouldn’t be so cruel. But as wonderful as they are, I’m not naive enough to misjudge the publishing industry. It’s a profession. It requires sales. It requires buyers to enjoy their product. And my writing is the product. I’m the product.
Maybe these are first time fears, or maybe I’ll always be afraid that what I’m writing is stinky word-crud. The most frequently repeated advice from fellow-authors seems to be “don’t let it bother you.” Don’t read the reviews. I get the wisdom in that. But it’s tough sometimes. Everyone seems to have enjoyed my short stories thus far, but those are still relative small-dry works. The release date of my first novel is starting to loom. My authorial debut. Judgement Day for my writing.
For now all I can do is press on and hope that whatever the editors have seen in me is spotted by everyone else. Until the there’s just me, my keyboard, and The Fear.