Sometimes, there are weeks in which you question everything.
For me, this is one of them.
Earlier this week, I woke up knowing I needed to send an email asking for help. I've decided to run Come Alive through some last-minute edits before switching it to self-pub, and because I've received all my rights back and there haven't been very many copies sold, I have this opportunity. So I wrote an email to those who downloaded the book through Story Cartel and let them know of my decision. Then, I let them know I would love to hear from them personally. What bothered them about the story? What dialogue seemed forced? What holes need filled?
I let them know the plot would stay the same and that there would be no major changes outside of reworking the ending. My goal? Stay true to the characters throughout the entirety of Come Alive - it's important to me for people to see the messiness involved in healing.
And outside of one super-sweet email asking me to include less questionable scenes (won't happen) most of the feedback has been really encouraging and helpful.
You have a good story but it isn't well-written.
According to this reader, I have syntax and diction problems. I need to find a copy-editor and someone to help with actual writing issues.
And (hear me) I understand as a writer there will be people who do not enjoy Come Alive. I do not expect every single person who opens up the book to fall in love with my style of writing - Lord knows there have been more than a few books I've only gotten a few chapters in - but letting the author know you only read the first few chapters isn't the best sort of encouragement.
But really, on any other day this email may have frustrated but it wouldn't have left me so dizzy. This was only the proverbial straw that broke me.
There's nothing like opening up your published novel in order to start editing it. And even though you're editing it to make it better you have this opportunity because the publisher closed its doors. And even though the publisher closed its doors, your book is still available on online shelves - which pushes back the time frame of putting it up as self-published. And then there's the tiny-thing about your agent emailing you to let you know he won't be working with you anymore.
So yesterday, sitting outside a coffee shop in the cold because there were no seats left inside, I open up my email and read this response about how I'm lacking and it was as if all of the sudden questions of my worth slapped me in the face.
And every single day I've been okay and even excited about these changes came back to haunt me because ohmigod everything is falling apart.
I didn't break down. I went passive aggressive and posted something on Facebook (this is me. chagrined.) and emailed those who needed emailing and went through an amazing Story-Coaching session and had dinner with some friends and then - and then - on the way home, close to six hours later, I let myself break.
I took a bath, cried out the tears, texted some friends and asked a few to make sure I was editing today because that email suddenly made me chicken-shit. (Proof :: I'm blogging instead of editing) And then, I popped some Tylenol PM to quiet those pesky demons telling me everything's horrible and I fell asleep.
Here's what I learned - there will always be something trying to keep you from writing. Whether it's an email containing any number of disappointing news, a bad review, or even reading a really good book that makes you just want to put the pen down and leave it to the professionals, there will always be something keeping you from sharing your story.
And you must push through it. Blog it out if you have to (ahem), cry the tears waiting for release and then sit your ass in the chair and get to work. Because if you have a story inside you - you are the only person in the entire world who can tell it.
And there might be someone waiting for it on the other side of things falling apart.