The Fear

It’s a funny occupation to go after, writer. You live in your own head so much of the time it’s virtually impossible to know how you come across to others. I barely see myself most days, if you want the truth. Sometimes I’ll walk past a mirror and stop and go, That’s what you wore today?! It’s astounding how what’s in my head doesn’t show up on my face. I’m nothing at all like I thought I’d be. It’s the same with what I write. Sometimes I absolutely can’t tell if it’s any good—no idea of worth, none. Then other times I think it might be good. A little glimmer of a knot starts winding itself in the pit of my stomach—that’s the hope. That’s me, hoping someone else likes it, too.

Maybe this next confession is obvious. If you read this blog it’s probably alarmingly, annoyingly obvious. But I get *very* nervous when people read what I write. “Why did you publish a book then?” you might want to ask me. Some days I’d answer, I’d honestly say, “I really don’t know.” And here I am about to do it again.

Sometimes I want to print out my pages, bind them up in a blanket, tie it with a bungee cord, wrap it in a plastic bag, wrap that in a second plastic bag, label it with an old priority mail sticker from the post office that says “Imaginary Girls,” and stow it up in the top cabinet we have over the bedroom closet.

But, um. I guess, since my agent sold the book and all, and since it’s due to my editor February 1, I guess I sort of can’t do that.

Really, I don’t want to.

Because other times I am so *excited* that I wrote this book, I want to share it with all the important people in my life. I like it and I want them to like it, too. I want E to see it. I want my agent to see it. I want my editor to see it. I want my best friend from junior high school to see it. I want my writer friend to see it. I want my mom to see it. I want strangers on the street to see it. I want you to see it, and I have no idea who you are!

I keep going back and forth between those two extremes.

It’s *very difficult* for me to show my writing to other people, especially when it’s not “done” yet. (Or after; you wouldn’t know it, but after is hard, too.) Lately I’ve had all these wonderful writing friends and acquaintances offer to read my manuscript for me if I need another reader. I’m honored by that. I’m thrilled. I think it’s really nice. I probably won’t send it out to more than a few people, though, only because I think it’s safer to keep things close. And by safer I mean I’m trying to keep my heart from exploding. I can’t show you my manuscript yet due to my health. Maybe later, after my editor has had me revise it. Maybe once there’s an ARC.

All this is well and good and one of those quirks certain writers get that maybe a few people in their lives—maybe one person—finds cute. Like, Ha-ha, she’s so shy, isn’t that endearing. It’s not endearing at all. It’s hellishly annoying. It’s a handicap. It’s like entering a fistfight with one hand tied behind my back.

Because that’s the thing. Writing takes courage. Creating something from absolutely nothing—a blank page, a white screen, a wordless abyss where not an inkling existed before I got to it—takes COURAGE.

I had it then. I’ll find it again before it’s time to hit send.

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