Sunday, October 16, 2011

Fear of Success

Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure... than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.
Theodore Roosevelt

This is it, kids. This is where the rubber meets the road, as they say. I am sitting here with my ARC in front of me, having read it, reread it, and (dare I say) re-re-re-re-read it, and it is time to hit send. I am gonna email my final set of edits to J. Ellen Smith, publisher extraordinaire, and that will be it. My novel, PROOF OF LOVE, will be going out into the world, never to return again to the safety of my writing chair.

It reminds me a lot of when my daughters were growing up – the fateful day when each went off to school, where I couldn’t take care of them, couldn’t stand up for them, couldn’t make everything right for them. They had to grow up. I mean, the alternative is awful, and I wouldn’t want them to end up as middle-aged children who stay home and watch DWTS with their parents. But it hurts to let them go.

Back in February, 2009, I sat down and started a book. For years, my husband had heard me sigh, toss aside a paperback, and mutter, “I could write a book better than that.” I guess he got tired of it, because he went with me to Best Buy, picked out a computer, and said, “Do it.” And so, just because I am the stubborn kind of person who must always be right, I did.

For months, my little book and I stayed holed up in a big armchair in the corner of our living room. I hung a picture of Colin Firth on the wall, bought a massive Yankee Candle, and declared that corner to be my writing area. Woe to any teenage daughter who dared to be sitting there when Momma’s muse decided it was time for some quick wordcount! My book and I were together as soon as I got home from work, far into the evening, and even in the wee early hours when I couldn’t sleep.

Eventually, I typed “THE END,” which has to be the most misleading phrase known to authordom. Because once the story ended, I got to learn the delights of editing. For the next several months, my life revolved around five colors of Sharpie pens and massive 3-ring binder that went everywhere with me. And that was enjoyable, in a strange kind of way, because everything I did made my little book better. I just edited and edited, until one day, I realized there was nothing more I could think of to do.

So, with my RWA chapter buddies egging me on, I started sending PROOF OF LOVE out to agents and editors, with the predictable results. I really felt like an author once I got a couple of rejections! But it didn’t take that long, you know, as I look back on it. I heard from the lovely Allison Knight that her publisher was taking submissions of historical romances, I emailed PROOF OF LOVE to Champagne, and the next thing I knew, I had an email from Judy Gill! She wanted it!

And now, after the fabulous Nikki Andrews has polished my little novel to diamond perfection, and Trisha FitzGerald has designed it the most gorgeous cover I’ve ever seen, I am sitting here in my writing chair, in absolute and utter shock. This is all real. I have a ISBN number, for God’s sake! In just a few weeks, my little book will be far beyond the comfy, safe confines of my writing chair. People may love it, people may hate it, but it will be out in the world to be judged on its own merits.

Writing (and publishing) a book has been a lifelong dream of mine. Now that it has come true, I am scared to death. I keep thinking of the quote from TR above, which is one of my favorite phrases to live by. There will be people who don’t like PROOF OF LOVE. I am convinced that there will be more people who do like it. Still, no one can say I didn’t go after my dream. I’m terrified by the fact that I’ve achieved it. But the alternative, to have never tried, would be worse.

PROOF OF LOVE, a Georgian-era romance, will be released by Champagne Books on November 7, 2011. (And a great big huge thanks to Kat Hall, who has patiently answered all my questions and even interrupted her Thanksgiving to help with my book promo!)


Allison Knight said...

Welcome to the club.

And don't for a second think the next book or the next, or the next, will be any easier. Despite all the wirting, editing and revising, there will be a place in your heart where you know you could have made it better.

Congratulations! And it is better to do than to talk about doing, even if it scares you to death.

January Bain said...

What an amazing accomplishment to see a book through its creation to its final "arc". Through the scared, I hope you're proud. So many say they will, but few do. Enjoy and celebrate each moment: it's well deserved!!!

Linda Rettstatt said...

You've accomplished something few people actually do. Enjoy--dance, celebrate, toast yourself. There is no high like writing a book and then seeing the end product sent out there for readers to enjoy.

It's always a little scary, but isn't it exhilarating?

Jude Johnson said...

Congrats, Arabella! You now definitely among the few, the proud. the published!
Fear of failure holds so many of us back from the thrill of achievement. Glad you conquered yours and are now full steam ahead! Enjoy every moment!


Arabella Stokes said...

Thanks, y'all! I'm loving it, but it hardly seems real yet!

Julie Eberhart Painter said...

Congratulations. You have hit every nail with your commentary here. I, too, have a favorite motivational quote. It's from a country Western song: "Life's not tried; it's merely survived if you're standing outside the fire."

Words we live by as writers.