Counting Down

A writer only begins a book, it is the reader who completes it; for the reader takes up where the writer left off as new thoughts stir within him. ~David Harris Russell

That’s a writer’s hope anyway.

To inspire, entertain, encourage, motivate, and so on.

It doesn’t always happen. Writers and publishers know how illusory magic is, but books by the thousands still hit the shelves every year.

As a reader, I’m thrilled by that. As a writer — with a book debuting in less than two weeks — I’m overwhelmed.

And nervous.

Don’t get me wrong. I like my book. I wouldn’t have written it if I hadn’t.

It’s taken years to get it just the way I want. I’m proud of the effort, satisfied at completing the journey.

But what if others don’t like it?

At one time I thought I wouldn’t care. Realistically, you can’t please all the people all the time, and as a journalist, I often wrote things others disagreed with.

But this book is my baby, and the mom in me wants to wrap it in a protective blankie and shelter it from harm.

What if it gets scathing reviews? Or worse, NO reviews?

What if nobody buys it? Not that I’m expecting to get rich off it, but my publisher would like it to sell.

I have a few advance copies, one of which I shared with a friend of mine.

She loved it and shared it with a friend of hers, who wasn’t as enthusiastic.

Her comments stung for a bit, but she’s entitled to her opinion.

Maybe the kind of book I wrote really isn’t her cup of tea, and she was just reading it because our mutual friend encouraged her.

That happens. We all do more word-of-mouth buying than we think.

And, while part of me wonders how much promoting I should be doing, the other part is burying her head in the sand, writing the second book of the series.

Because, you know, that’s what writers do. We write.

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34 thoughts on “Counting Down

  1. I have a copy on pre-order and am really looking forward to it! I totally understand where you are coming from. I almost hope that no one buys or reads my books, then they won’t hate them. It is about this point that you realise that writing a book is actually the easy part – it’s everything else that comes with it that is tricky! Keep writing, keep smiling and keep believing in your work! x

    • What lovely things to say, Lucy, and thanks so much for saying them! I know you know what I’m talking about. Perhaps only another creative person can empathize with the trepidation of putting a book out there (or a song, poem, painting, etc.) The whole thing is so subjective. I have to keep reminding myself that, even if somebody hates my book, they don’t necessarily hate me, ha!! Yes, I’m going to keep writing, smiling, and believing — I can do no less. Thanks for the nudge (and the pre-order, of course!)

      • I know where you are coming from completely. It’s such a worry. On the one hand, you want everyone to see your work. On the other, you want to hide it away! Remember nothing is ever personal and no writer appeals to absolutely everyone. Always here for you, as a fellow writer and as a friend. We authors gotta stick together!

  2. Of course some won’t “like” it. But what do we mean by that? Does it mean the book is “bad,” by whatever standard you prefer, or is it (for example) that the genre doesn’t appeal? I can’t remember the last fiction book I’ve read. I’ve never read Stephen King, or Joyce Carol Oates, or J.K. Rowling. I don’t say that because it’s a point of pride. It’s simply that with most fiction, I get bored halfway through and put it down. Sometimes, I get bored by the first chapter. I have a lot of books I re-read time and time again — some on an annual basis. Not a single one is fiction.

    I can’t explain it, but there it is. I’m not much of a film buff, either — I love a good documentary, and anything with Judi Dench can pull me into a theater, but I’m not going to be lining up to buy a ticket for most movies. I keep thinking I should, but I don’t.

    I am looking forward to your book, partly because it’s been so interesting to follow your process, and partly because it will give me the experience of reading some fiction!
    Just think — you may be the one who finally gets me over my fiction phobia!

    • No pressure there, huh?! Seriously, Linda, thank you for your honesty. I’d much prefer somebody who says they hate my book to admit that they don’t like fiction, or thrillers, or mysteries, than that they just didn’t like my book period.

      We each have our preferences, and nobody can denigrate us for them. I don’t care for memoirs, but I’ve read some good ones. Nor do I spend a lot of time at the movies, but I love live theater. I guess our tastes change over time. Go figure!

  3. Debbie, I love the quote you shared by Harris Russell!

    Your thoughts and feelings expressed in this post reminded me of my time spent as a stage actor. I know I’ve shared that before in one of your other posts because although I’m not a writer, being an actor is the only way I can relate to what you feel, which I think in many ways, is very similar to the creative process of writing.

    “But what if others don’t like it?”

    Yes, I thought that same thing many an opening night when I was extremely nervious about how my performance would be accepted, perceived and reviewed.

    To be totally honest, in my 25-years of acting, I’ve had some great newspaper reviews and some really bad reviews too, in which I was royally slammed. Acting taught me so many things about life in general, such as, approval, acceptance, validation.

    Just as you said….”Her comments stung for a bit, but she’s entitled to her opinion. Maybe the kind of book I wrote really isn’t her cup of tea.”

    Exactly. People are entitled to their opinions because not every performance I gave as an actor touched everyone the same way. But I slowly realized that those opinions shouldn’t valadate my talent as an actor.

    Acting taught me to be resilient. It also taught me to develope my own sense of approval, acceptance and validation.

    I think it’s AWESOME that you’ll be debuting your book in less than two weeks – I’m sooooooooooo proud of you, my friend.

    Enjoy the process, by just allowing things to be what they will be.

    And believe in “yourself”
    X

    • Ron, I think being an actor would be WAAAAY harder than being a writer! After all, you’re up there on stage, having to look your audience in the face — and I’m sure you’re sensitive enough to be able to read whether they’re reacting favorably or not!

      Absolutely correct, my friend — resilience is crucial for anybody doing anything creative. One has to have a certain confidence to be able to put it all out there, and one has to hold onto that confidence in the face of the nay-sayers.

      Are y’all getting this hot, muggy weather?? It’s YUCK! I’ll be glad when Fall returns! x

  4. You have captured all the feelings, Debbie. There is no answer to your questions. Only you know why you wrote the book in the first place. Now you know why it takes courage to write and publish.

  5. If there’s one thing reading five zillion book reviews every day has taught me, it’s that no book is universally loved… and very, very few are universally hated! If you ever read the comments on books I’ve slated, there are always some from people saying they felt totally differently. Same with books I’ve raved about. And sometimes I’m gobsmacked when I read other people’s reviews to see how differently they reacted to a book I loved… or couldn’t stand. If I was giving advice, I’d say read the good reviews and ignore the bad ones – but I know if it was me I wouldn’t be able to stick to that. So all I’ll say is – try not to let the bad ones get you down. Most people don’t review books they don’t finish, so even a negative review means someone enjoyed it enough not to abandon it…

    • Gee, I’d never thought of it that way before. “Most people don’t review books they don’t finish.” Hmm. That sounds mighty positive to me — at least they’re getting to the end. I’ve read reviews on Amazon for other books, and some of the negative ones are rather blistering. I hope my the story is compelling enough for people to enjoy it a bit!

  6. I’m going to love it and I am going to give it a great review. Of course it is scary and you are very brave. Maybe it’s like kids–the hard part isn’t loving them and “structuring them”…but letting them go and trusting that all the work you did will will make it possible for them to have a better than average chance at succeeding out in the world. I know, that the hardest thing for you was letting go…saying done. good enough. But you did it. Wow. Just Wow!! Can. Not. Wait!

    • Can you feel me giving you a bear hug from central Illinois, Kb?!? Thank you for such loving support — it means a LOT! Yes, writing The End is just the beginning, really. Putting it out there for others to read is very much like sending your child into the world. I guess if anything goes wrong, both child and book can always come back home, right?!

  7. It is true, writing the book is definitely the easy part. There is a certain amount of vulnerability in putting oneself “out there.” Yes, there are always gonna be people who don’t like a certain book, it is all so subjective, but I am sure that there will be many who do. Best of luck!

  8. Deb you know I just released my CD. I feel people told me they like it because they know me. It’s for sale on Amazon, ITunes etc. I also was nervous about …”will people like it?” I know we can’t please everybody’s taste. When I got my first few neg. remarks on YouTube did it hurt, but now I’ve gotten over it. I know my heart and what I put into the project. I’m really proud of you for all the effort you put into your project. Many people can’t do that. Set your mind on your next project. You got this Deb!!

    • Ah, Tanya, you’re a dear for empathizing — and I can totally relate to your emotions about putting a CD out in the world. That’s very much like putting a book out there. I wish you immense success with it — don’t fear the negative comments. Some are probably just jealous and mean-spirited to begin with. Trust the process and know that those who need to hear your songs will be led to them!!

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