Monday, October 13, 2014

Letting Go of Self-Doubt ... by J. C. Lynne

Khaled Hosseini said in an interview, “Good writing days flow with tempo and cadence, on the bad days I sit and bleed.” Letting go of self-doubt is a writer’s daily struggle, best seller list or no. Natalie Goldberg, in Writing Down The Bones says great writing is a moment passing through you. A moment the writer’s awake enough to capture. Even on my good writing hours, days or weeks, my personal investment in the words clings to me. The Esau Emergence, my first published book, released July of last year. I finished the final edit, cutting 8,000 words this April. The sequel, The Esau Convergence, will be done in December.

Declaring my status as a writer comes with ease. I’ve heard from terrific people who enjoyed the book and can’t wait for the next one. I’ve sold copies to folks on my book tour. Readings, signings, and workshops are planned without anxiety. I’ve had a couple of harsh reviews, a scathing one from a guy named Wurst. True story. I still make jokes about it. It’s the people I know best who present the obstacle. The physical act of handing over a book terrifies. I feel the urge to cling to it, hands locked in a vise grip. I sent copies to my extended family, but I don’t ask if they’ve read it. The most passionate of readers among them are busy. I imagine they tense up when the subject arises. I don’t think my family has read it. It’s the safest tack. They can’t hate it if they haven’t read it. Win win. Sometimes the question pops out. Recently, I was in L.A. for a family thing, my uncle asked how my writing was going. The words escaped me, “Great. Have you read it?”

“I’ve meant to get a copy,” he said.

We were trapped. I don’t know what possessed me, but I handed him one of the two copies I carry for such an event. People, usually, pay me for them, but hey, he’s my uncle.

Okay, I didn’t hand it to him. I tossed it. I may have, sort of, thrown it at him. In fairness, I did sign it. I realized later I had been throwing my book at almost everyone. Not random everyones, just folks I know. People who purchase a book from me can tell you, I didn’t hurl the book at their head. My colleague, Rich Keller, mentioned he was going to read my book. I tossed him a copy. My friends, Sarah and Chad, reminded me they didn’t have a copy. I slid it across the table. I’m sure there’s a scene in a movie with one character clinging desperately to a book while the other character pries it out. I’m avoiding a scene.

My id is circumventing my ego. I have no problem selling my book or talking about my writing career. I’m inspired to be living my dream with the support of wonderful people, readers and writers alike (Wurst is still on my list). The good reviews continue to increase. Chad, not a passionate reader, said, “I didn’t know what to expect. I thought it might be a romance or chick lit, but WHAM, I’m in a military assault in Afghanistan. I love it!” That’s high praise.

I’m not a Hemingway fan, but he beat Hosseini to the blood bank. “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” We not only bleed but offer our blood to others. How’s that for ghastly? I have more deeply personal stories waiting for their moment, but everything I write contains a glimpse into my spirit. It’s a gift of sorts, but there’s no receipt for returns.

I hope by the time I’m done with the third book in the Esau Continuum, I’ll be at peace with the process. I’ve counted. I have six single novels in the works. I’m a writer. Good thing I can’t pitch worth a darn. I’m happy to sell you a book, but promise to duck.


JC Lynne taught Literature and Language Arts for ten years. Her first novel, The Esau Emergence, was published July, 2013 by Ngano Press. The sequel, The Esau Convergence is coming soon. In addition to fiction, she writes creative non-fiction. Most recently, The Girl I Walk By, a short story, is available in Pooled Ink, 2013. She lives in northern Colorado with her husband, two teenage boys, her pups, and cats.

Find J.C.'s author page at Facebook or follow her blog about balancing writing with a houseful at her website/blog.


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

It's harder to pitch your book to people you know well. And don't feel bad - my mother hasn't read any of my books. I'm sure she never will.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

My sisters have read my books and are very supportive as well as my daughter. My sons have read my fantasy novels so I'm lucky with the family support thing. I did feel like I was bleeding over the keyboard this past weekend.

Julia Lynne said...

Alex....funny true story, my mother can't even find my book. Just took a quick visit and she said, "I'm sure it's around here somewhere."

Patricia Stoltey said...

Good post, Julie -- My mother did read my first book...and told me she was really glad I didn't have any sex in it because that would have embarrassed her. My mother-in-law read it and said the only thing that was wrong with it was that there wasn't any sex in it. Both were in their late 80s at the time.

Neither one of my sons read the first two, which were pretty tame mysteries. This time, however, I put in a creepy thug who uses a lot of bad language. I think that might lure the guys in so they can talk about their badass writer mom. We'll see... :D

Richard Keller said...

My brother, aunt and cousins have read my books. I have no qualms about passing my books to, though I'd rather have them buy the items. Hey, I need to send my kids to private colleges in the Bahamas.

As to self-doubt, it took me a long time to get over that. It required some therapy and the courage to dig deep inside to find the ability to be someone who can walk up to people and promote myself rather than feeling that I'm bothering them in some way.

Crystal Collier said...

Funny. It's actually easiest for me to hand it to my family. I can present in front of a group too, no worries, but one on one with a stranger? *gulp* Yeah, I know I need to get over that.

Dean K Miller said...

J.C. Duck and cover, and you're on my to-read list now. Likewise, I haven't heard from any of my family, except my mother, but she red lined the first draft so much she almost didn't send it back! But she approves of the final.

Family is family, writers, just a bigger, better one. Congrats and keeping tossing them out there.

Margot Kinberg said...

Pat - Thanks for hosting J.C.

J.C. - Thanks for sharing your stories. I think one of the most important things for writers to do is to see themselves as writers and have confidence in that.

Eileen Goudge said...

Hilarious, and so true. I, too, have learned not ask relatives if they've read my books. A cousin of mine once admitted she'd read my first novel but didn't much care for it. Before that, she was my favorite cousin (instant demotion). Then there are the family members who damn with faint praise. My dad wanted to know why the insurance agent father in one of my YA novels was described as having thinning hair (as his was at the time)--and that was his only comment. You gotta love 'em anyway. Though maybe you love them a little less.