I’m terrified of one of my own stories.
I never would have thought that was possible, but oh look, it happened.
Most authors never publish their first novels. It’s the second, tenth, seventeenth novel that ends up being the first one published, and that first one is abandoned and pulled out every so often as a reminder of how far the writer has come.
When I finally finished the first draft of A Lesson in Vanishing, I knew the likelihood of it getting published was slim to none. It’s a hard story to categorize. It has elements of suspense, but it’s not a suspense. It has elements of romance, but it’s not a romance. So what the hell is this book? Trying to figure it out didn’t matter so much, because I figured it wouldn’t end up in any agent or editor’s slush pile.
Well, I did manage to find a small press to I’d like to submit it to. And now I’m fucking terrified of my own story.
It has problems. While my main character, Frankie, is pretty well fleshed out, she’s still got hiccups and bumps. The antagonist, Roger, has a lot more than a few hiccups. And don’t get me started on Peter.
Then there’s the whole new second part I’ve yet to draft.
Every writer wants to write a book that makes people go, “You wrote that book?” That book that gets under their skin, that they remember days and months later, that they recommend to friends and strangers alike. And don’t lie and tell me you don’t care about that kind of stuff. You totally do.
I want Vanishing to be that book.
Am I being egotistical when I say it could be? Yeah. I’m a writer. I’m allowed.
But putting in the work to make it that book scares me. I could fail, miserably. I write romance for one very big reason: it’s easy. I enjoy it, sure, but it’s also stupendously easy, at least for me. Vanishing was not easy. You’ll probably all tell me it shouldn’t be, and you’d be correct. I know it shouldn’t be easy.
That’s not going to stop me from putting it off and wishing it would just write itself. Because once the book is finished, finished finished, I’ll have to actually submit it and while I can handle rejection, I’m not sure I can handle rejection for this particular story. This story holds so much of myself, my aches, my blood, my frustrations, that to have no one want it and to be forced to slide it back under the bed would require more Pepsi and chocolate chip cookies than there are in the world. That fear could very well lead me to bury Vanishing at the bottom of the drawer, unfinished. Because as long as it’s incomplete, I don’t have to worry about whether it’s met my standards or not.
However, there’s another story that I never talk about that I never thought I’d get to submit, and now…now it might stand a chance. I’ll tell you about it on Friday.