A couple of weeks ago I wrote about how editing my upcoming book had created a crisis of confidence. There were cries of “WHY am I even doing this?” and “Who am I to guide anyone in life?”. There was some serious procrastination going on – I was even voluntarily cleaning in a bid to avoid getting back to the manuscript.
But it turns out there was something even more crisis-inducing waiting in the wings.
And that is beta readers.
Or more specifically receiving their feedback.
It is so crucifying to send out what you know is a truly shitty first draft, which needs a lot of work, which is nowhere near refined, and to let people judge you on it. Break it apart. Tell you to cut your precious words. Tell you that you made no sense. Or that parts need serious development. It is SO unbelievably hard to know which advice to take and which to ignore whilst the imposter syndrome is screaming in your brain that all of it must be shit.
This process left me in tears on Friday night. Overwhelmed at the amount I need to do in the timescale needed to get the book out when I want to. Feeling beaten down. Fearing that, as I suspected, I am just not a sodding writer after all. The excitement I had been feeding off for months had well and truly left the building.
I took a couple of days away from the manuscript to get some perspective. To think about the context of some comments and where they are valid, where they are not. I have had a rant. I have cried some more. I have looked back through the feedback and focused on the areas which I know can have an immediate impact. I have researched storytelling techniques to refresh what I should be doing.
Most importantly, I have picked myself back up and dusted off (some of) the doubts. Sometimes we just have to be defiant in the face of the cynics. To stand tall and deflect the comments off your shit shield.
I know there will be many more of these crises coming up – at the pre-launch, the full launch, on receiving my first reviews, when I talk about the book on podcasts, and at speaking events… I suspect there will be no end to it. It is in learning to deal with the doubts that the real power hides. It is making sure I still do this brave thing of putting myself out there. Speaking what I know to be my truth, even if others don’t agree… and there will be some who don’t for sure.
After all, if the likes of global megastar J. K. Rowling can get 1* reviews, then so can I. (Sorry about that love. Just not my cup of chai).
So, what can I take forward from this? And how can I use this soul-destroying experience to help others? Come back next week when I will be sharing my tips for first-time authors based on the rollercoaster of a 7-month journey I have had so far.