Thursday, May 17, 2012

I've Got a Theory: The Freak Out

I have a theory I've been thinking about a lot the last couple of days, and it goes a little like this:

You decide you want to be published. You set your sites on whatever that means to you.
Yeah.... You THINK you're looking straight at it, but you're really not. You're looking up and over all of the things that come along with it. I'm not talking about all the obstacles along the way. I'm talking about the things that come along with that goal that you don't really think about when you make the goal.

Things like:
  • Sitting at a book signing that no one comes to.
  • Having to write on a deadline.
  • Speaking at conferences.
  • If you write YA or MG or PB, doing school visits.
  • Blogging/facebook/twitter/other social media that makes you step out of your comfort zone.
  • Having your life be not as personal.
  • Dealing with a lot of rejection-- from agents, from publishers, from readers.
  • Having someone take a picture of you at a signing, and having no control over the picture. (So if you had your eyes half-closed, you're in the middle of saying "Right now?" and have your left eyebrow raised, you can't just delete the picture. Chances are good it'll be floating around the Internet somewhere.)
  • That you will have times when you get critiques that your manuscript will be shredded.
  • Finding out that your boss, your mom, your neighbor, that one girl from high school, your spouse/significant other, your kid's school teacher read your book.
  • Getting bad reviews / people being vocal about everything in your book that they hated.
Some affect you more intensely than others, of course, but you were probably thinking of NONE of those things when you first had that spark to be a writer. Then, as you got further into it, you kept coming across these things that are all part and parcel to the whole writing gig! And then it goes a little like this:



A) You freak out.  
Seriously? I have to do that
*hyperventilating* 
I don't know if I can do that!




B) Denial.
No. 
Other people might have to deal with that, but not me. 
After a while, you realize if you really want that goal you've been staring at, this comes hand-in-hand with it.



C) Change or Accept
You either decide to give up on that goal (and change to a goal that won't require you to do the thing you're freaking out about)
OR you choose to accept it. Heck, maybe even EMBRACE it.


For me, my big freak out was school visits. On some of those things, I went through steps A, B, and C in a matter of a minutes. For the school visits, it took a couple of weeks. Panic churned in the pit of my stomach every time I thought about it. I've spent the past three days doing school visits, and I've gotta say, I freaked out way more than I needed to. It has actually been FUN! (Now mind you, I was going classroom to classroom-- not speaking to a full auditorium at a time. I'm sure there'll be more freaking out before I do my first auditorium presentation.)

I thought I had gone through steps A, B, and C on EVERYTHING. Turns out I didn't go there on the whole You-might-be-filmed-doing-a-presentation-and-then-that-presentation-might-find-its-way-online thing. (So make sure that one's not absent on your list of things you need to accept!) It's not that I didn't think it would happen..... it's that I didn't think about it at all. So step A-- the big freak out-- hit pretty hard the last couple of days. I can, with confidence, say that I've made it to step C-- I accept it.

....But that doesn't mean that step A is over. I'll admit-- I'm still freaking out a little bit. But just like everything else, I know eventually that will go away, too.

Which one has been the worst for you so far? Are there some on that list that you intentionally glazed over, because you're not ready to deal with the freak out on them yet?

50 comments:

Z said...

Speaking of being filmed and ending up online--have you checked out Brandon's latest blog post :) It may or may not feature a certain Peggy Eddleman...

As for stressing over changes--daily. Every time I log on and find people have actually read my blog posts, I panic for a moment. Then I remember I have this HUGE project that's going to get published somewhere other than the safety of my blog someday, and that people are actually going to read it and...I have to remind myself to breathe at that point :)

Keep going with those school tours! Kids are the best (because they probably think you're a superstar, and they'll go home and tell their mommies about meeting you) :)

Kim said...

Yep, I totally look up and over everything that comes with being published as a way of retaining my sanity.

But now that I'm in the midst of doing of all the things that take me out of my comfort zone (social media, blogging, rejection, etc.)I find myself hoping I can play it small enough to where only a select few will notice, but big enough to be comfortably successful. (Can't have it both ways, I know.)

I'm also wondering what the heck a publisher is actually going to do for me, since I seem to be doing it all myself anyway.

Great post! I can totally relate.

Janet Johnson said...

I'm still in the denial stage. La la la la la . . . I can't hear you!!! :)

So glad the school visits went well! I only wish I could have been there to see you.

Nancy Thompson said...

Ah, the rejection never ends, does it? I have one more to add to your list: requesting author reviews/blurbs for your book. That's what had to do this week and it terrified me. Compiling that list of authors in my genre was hard enough, but actually groveling and requesting they take time out of their busy schedule to consider reading my book was beyond scary. I've already received one yes and 3 no's, though they were all very kind. But still, I never even considered I'd have to do this. *sigh*

Daisy Carter said...

Oh, no! I thought some magic elf was part of the pub deal - you know, someone to clean my house and make my meals and do all these really unsavory things like social media (not blogging - love it. But Facebook? Sigh).

Maybe I'll pull a "Barney and the Choir" and get someone prettier to take my photos and do talks while I stand behind the curtain with the live mic.

Kristine said...

Funny how sometimes you never know what all will come with something you think you know enough about. It's definitely something that unfortunately holds me back from things!

Annalisa Crawford said...

I always dreamt of being a reclusive writer... that's really not the way it happens these days, is it?

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

Eek. I actually hadn't thought of a few of those. Now I have a stomachache. (But I'll get over it!) :)

Joshua said...

Well, it's a good thing I don't write YA, MG, or PB. So...WHEW! Freak out averted! :oP

Patrick Stahl said...

I know that YA means young adult and MG is short for middle grade, but what does PB stand for? Nice article, by the way.

Peggy Eddleman said...

Oh! Good question. It means Picture Book.

Nicole said...

Great post! Those stages are pretty darn accurate. Glad you ended up enjoying the school visits.

Delia said...

Since I am as yet unagented, none of this has affected me yet. However, I did think of all of this (and more -- travelling alone, anyone?) the second I thought of publishing something. I'm a worst-case-scenario kind of a gal.

Donna K. Weaver said...

And yet we plug on anyway. Just like the idea that Harry might be a horcrux, some ideas just take a while to get used to.

School visits wouldn't bother me much. I just can't imagine doing them for an adventure romance. lol

JeffO said...

I'm really only in rejection/waiting for acceptance mode right now, so I'll let you know when I get there. I've done a lot of school visits for work, though, and I love it, love working with kids. It's tiring, but energizing at the same time.

Leslie Pugh said...

I can only imagine doing school visits (classroom or auditorium!) because that does make me sweat a little just thinking about it.

Before I went to the Storymakers conference I was kind of having a freak out over the fact that other people would be reading my work at Bootcamp and now I've learned how important it is to have a critque group (am in the process of forming one now) and so it doesn't scare me as much. But there sure are a lot of things that come with the writing/publication territory that I never thought of before I went to that conference that I'm learning more about each day.

S.P. Bowers said...

I'm aware of all those things, but I don't think I can truly prepare for them. I try to imagine and form solutions or ideas for all those things but until I'm in the situation I won't know how I'll react or what I will feel.

I think the one I'm most scared of is going to a book signing and not having anyone show up. Then seeing all the people passing by avert their eyes as if they don't want to embarrass you by noticing that no one wants to talk to you.

Michael Offutt, Tebow Cult Initiate said...

I learned a long time ago to not sweat the things over which I have no control. That has helped me live life.

prerna pickett said...

i'm totally freaked out about the idea of nobody showing up to my book signing...should i ever be published.

Jenny Morris said...

I hope some day I'll be able to laugh at things like pictures and videos. I guess right now it's more about who cares what I'll have to do, I just want to get there.

One I've thought a LOT about, if I have to go on a book tour, will I be okay without my kids. Or will they be okay without me. BIG one for me.

Kelley Lynn said...

I've thought about this kinda of stuff. I'd TOTALLY love to speak to people, do interviews, videos, stuff like that. But I've been presenting to schools about the field of Engineering for seven years now, so the topic would just be different. Better :) haha.

However, having my picture and comments about myself and my work sent all over the place would stink.

But if I have to deal with that, I've probably done pretty good for myself. So I'll deal with it.

Congrats on the school visits!!! How FUN!

Jessie Humphries said...

Ahhhh freak out! La freak, c'est chic! (Meant to be sung to that 70's music) Oh girl, don't freak! You are the most capable person I know! Let me be the freaker in this relationship, k? (in a non sexual way) ;).

Sharon Bayliss said...

I signed my first publishing contract a few weeks ago, and I'm definitely in the freak out stage. I feel like I should just be happy, but it's also so stressful! I think about all the things you did. I have to just say to myself, "This is what you want. Get over it." Great post!

The Golden Eagle said...

Glad to hear you enjoyed the school visits. :)

I suppose I glaze over having to social network--and having a less private life.

Jeff Hargett said...

Nice talk there on Brandon Sanderson's blog. I'm just a little jealous. And my, what nice handwriting you have. :)

Cassie Mae said...

Pictures. Def. pictures. I am not one who likes the camera, which is why I thought writing would just give me one shot and that's it! But, um, ya... I guess that's not the case????

Diana said...

I love reading your posts and know I'm not the only one who has ups and downs! It used to be that when I thought of a writer, I thought of someone sitting in a nice office, perfectly organized, and the stories just went from their head to the computer. Glad to know I can head to your blog and get the pick me up I need when I need it!

Adam Heine said...

Hey, sorry for being part of your most recent freak out. For what it's worth, I really enjoyed your presentation :-D

Carrie Butler said...

...Well, I'm freaking out now. Thanks for planting the seed. :P

Public speaking doesn't bother me, as long as I'm comfortable with the subject matter. Photos, on the other hand... *Shudder*

Now if you'll excuse me, I have a video to watch. Someone spotted a Pegasus in the wild! ;)

Patti said...

School visits, public signing are definitely things that freak me out. I'm trying not to let them sabotage my ultimate goal.

Great post.

Lan said...

Such is the beauty of indie self publishing!! I don't think I'd be able to get out of bed if I had to do school visits or go to a signing where nobody turned up at all :(

Valerie Hartman said...

Well, you just bring all kinds of delightful images to life, don't cha?

I have not yet figured out what I would like to write, but I love the idea of children in the audience rather than Ph.D.-toting specialists. Kids love me, it's grown-ups that throw me for a loop! More points to ponder, I think I will go get a cookie to help me mull it over.

Congrats on the new stage and the serious personal growth happening. A+ post.

Iain said...

I like to think that I tend to take things in my stride, and worry (freak) about them if and when they happen.
Technically, I think that this is called the denial stage.
I'm pleased to hear that the school talks went well. When do we get a blow by blow post on the highs and lows?

Susanne Drazic said...

You certainly give a person something to think about. I guess I'm looking over everything in between. I'm sure I'll have some AARRGGHH! moments when the time comes.

Deana said...

I don't even have an agent yet, but I already know my biggest fear will be doing a book signing and no one will come. I think I mught pay people to come just so I don't feel like an idiot:)

I'm sure you will rock that presentation recording. Baby steps right? :)

i'm erin. said...

You're going to do great with the school visits. By the way, how did it go this week? you need to call me and give me the low down.

Carrie-Anne said...

My biggest fear is probably getting bad reviews, though I know I shouldn't be bothered by them if they're anything like some of the 1-star reviews I've seen on Amazon form people who clearly didn't even read the book and just wanted to get up on a soapbox to complain about stuff like length of the book, not liking certain elements for religious fundamentalist reasons, or finding the subject matter too depressing. So then don't review it if it offends you so much!

Laura Marcella said...

I haven't been lucky enough yet to reach any of those things and freak out about them, LoL! Well, I guess the rejection part. But I'm so used to it now that I don't freak out anymore. I let myself feel bummed, then toss it aside, eat a chocolate chip cookie (or five) and get back to my writing!

Julie said...

I don't know how you do it!

Writer Pat Newcombe said...

Oh my... Never done school visits ( my books definitely NOT for young kids) but I can imagine your fear... Best of luck but i'm sure you'll be fine!

Tonja said...

I had the impression you were a 2nd or 3rd grade teacher. I'm guessing not if the school trips wigged you out.

I don't like reading my writing out loud in groups of more than three. I don't like microphones. I don't like the way my voice cracks and my face turns red and I can't breathe and then I get overwhelmed and start to cry. And yet I keep trying. Reading funny stories is better than touching ones for me. Great post.

Ruth Josse said...

I'm freaking out right NOW.

Susanna Leonard Hill said...

I'm sure you were AWESOME! School visits really freaked me out in the beginning - seriously, I was so nervous my teeth chattered! - but although I still get nervous (and probably always will :)) they have become one of my favorite things. Why just this week I visited with 1st graders who guessed i was 80 :)

E.D. said...

Oh my... I am still at the "I am almost ready to query and hope that an agent will sign me" stage.... But hopefully, in time, it will all freak me out too :-)

Paul Tobin said...

I like the theory, I have similar experience myself. Thanks

Nas said...

Its nice that you enjoyed the school visits.

I'm also at that ... "I am almost ready to query and hope that an agent will sign me" stage....

Almost but 'Actually not quiet ready!'

Adrienne said...

I don't have an agent or a published book--yet. But the THOUGHT of public speaking makes me panic. :-)

Cherie Larkins said...

Yikes! I do fear some of those things, but I've long adapted the attitude that there are only certain things I CAN control in my life--and gosh darn it, I WILL hold on those things. The rest I don't have control over--such as reviews, impressions, potentially embarassing candid photos, etc.--I'll just have to roll with it.

I'm very much an introvert. Public speaking makes my hands shake and sweat like crazy. And yet, when someone asks me to speak at a function, I do it. And pretend I know what I'm doing, or that I'm nonplussed by all of it. The backstory of me frantically putting together my speech and practicing in the mirror--no one has to see those. I can control what I DO, I can't control what or how people react to the things I do/books I write/words I say. So I focus on what I have control over.

Libby said...

I haven't gotten to the point where any of those things has happened yet, but I do dread awkward social interactions.

Angela Cothran said...

I didn't think of half of those things! NOW I'm really freaking out :)