Yesterday was release day.
So, I’m going to start by saying that I’m very grateful for such a successful release day. It’s a bit surreal having so many people who are enjoying what I’m doing and buying my books.
I took some time over the last 24 hours to consider my new career path. A lot of thoughts have filtered into my brain in that 24 hours and now, I’m in the mood to get some stuff out. So, here it is.
It’s been about two years now since I decided to change careers, and just over a year since I actually started writing. I have completed three novels to this point and I’m currently working on a fourth.
Before I released my first novel, I had a lot of nerves. Would people enjoy my stories? Would they think my writing is terrible? What if all I get is bad reviews?
Now it’s the day after the release of my second novel. I didn’t have the nerves this time around. Sorry, that’s not right. I have nerves, but they are different. You see, here’s what I’ve come to realize in the last 24 hours:
1. I’ve been writing to make myself happy.
I’ve accomplished this. This is not to say that I haven’t had people who’ve attempted to take this happiness away from me, but I’m referring specifically to writing. When I write, I’m lost in a world where I’ve got characters gnawing at me to tell their story. I love being able to bring those stories to life. If other people enjoy what I do, that’s freaking amazing and just a bonus.
2. Not everybody will enjoy what I write.
While that sucks, it’s just simply reality. It’s not a good thing, but it’s also not a bad thing. It just means that everybody likes something different. As much as I don’t want to get negative feedback on anything I write, I know it’s going to happen eventually. That said, I think I’m prepared for when it happens. I’ve realized that what one person absolutely hates about one of my books will be what someone else loves.
I was on twitter two days ago and saw something that stuck with me. The tweet said, “If you didn’t like a book & covered why in your review, that’s fine. But there’s no reason for reviews to be downright insulting?!”
I see it all the time when I read reviews for books that I’ve read. Someone will rip the book to shreds, and I sit there dumbfounded because the very parts they hated are the ones that I loved. To add to it, there’s always going to be that one person that tries to tear you apart in such an unnecessary way. Critiques are evident and will be one of the things that help me grow as a writer, but some people are just plain nasty. I’m not sure I’ll ever understand why someone can’t be critical of a book (or anything else, for that matter), but do it in a way that’s constructive. After reading those reviews, I’d sit there and wonder how the author felt when they read it.
We’re writers. We’re human. We are NOT perfect.
3. My writing is infinitely better now than it was a year ago.
Everything I Need was my first book. It’s my baby. I loved Charley and Wes’ story. That does not mean that I don’t read it now and think that I should have written a part or two of it a bit differently. I’m not ashamed of what’s in it and I’m very proud of myself for having done something that made me happy. I’m also not too proud to admit that it’s not my best work. I love that I can look back at it now and see how much I’ve grown as a writer.
To that end, Everything I Have is, in my opinion, significantly ‘better’ from a writing standpoint. I wrote both books with the same passion for each story, but naturally, the more you do something the better you get at it. What’s that saying? Practice makes perfect, right? I don’t expect to be perfect, but I know that I’m going to always be a work in progress when it comes to what I’m doing. If I can see the improvement in it from one book to the next, I’m hoping my readers will, too. I’m also hoping that they’ll appreciate having taken that journey with me.
Everything I Need vs. Everything I Have is not really something I want to do. They are two vastly different stories. I wrote them as my characters told them to me. I’ll say now that my third book, Everything I Want (due out this fall!), is probably even better yet. Again, this isn’t to take away from the work that I’ve done on the first two, but merely an observation of my growth as a writer. I think somewhere in the middle of writing my second book I found my voice and writing style. In finding those, it’s improved my writing…ten-fold.
So, there’s my list…or, part of it anyway.
You might be wondering why I even thought to share this. I don’t know. I guess I didn’t have to, but I’m working on my fourth novel now (which is going to be the first in a new series that’s coming out) and have had a lot of thoughts about this stuff. I figured I’d take a break from it to get these thoughts out.
So, the crux of my one day post-release reflection is how I feel about someone else’s perception of my work. It shouldn’t matter, but sometimes it does. It matters when the opinions are good and when the opinions are constructive. What DOES NOT matter is when the opinions are just plain negative.
And because I get all of my life and philosophical lessons from Twitter, another tweet I read more than a month ago from a friend, who is an artist of sorts and deals with criticisms daily, said, “The people that try and diminish your work and art wish they could be accomplishing the same things.”
Her words stuck with me and I know I’ll keep those in mind moving forward.
Now that I’ve gotten to the end of this post I’m feeling like it’s a bit melancholic and gloomy. That’s not the intention. In fact, I signed into Amazon this morning and found that my books had been purchased in FOUR different countries. It’s my second book, so I’m happy to see that kind of result. I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing, love it while I’m doing it, and hoping that one day I’ll see myself on an international best-sellers list.
Need to have big dreams to do big things.
On that thought, I’m back to writing…