Authenticity and stage fright

As part of my pledge to be more “honest” in my writing, I am trying to open myself up and share the fears and foibles that come with writing. At least for me.

Someone–I don’t remember who–wrote: “The difference between successful writers and unsuccessful writers is that successful writers have more rejection slips.” Translation: You have to be willing to take risks to succeed as a writer.

That challenge never ends. I have made major inroads in publishing in the Seventh-day Adventist Church. I have friends who are book and magazine editors, and have published both books and many magazine articles in this realm. But I have challenged myself to move beyond this safe zone. And that’s what scares me.

I read somewhere else that the new trend in publishing is to establish a following. This is especially important because the literary market is so bad these days. I want to do this, but am unsure how. And so I watch other writers, and try what they do. But it is a long time coming.

What I do know how to do is write books. Correction: I am good at writing rough drafts. Serious writing is done during the rewrite phase, something I have a hard time with. And so it is that I find myself with five book manuscripts and several short stories, almost all of them still in the rough draft stage. But writing rough drafts is comfortable for me, and so I keep doing it.

Tomorrow is the beginning of the end, I hope. I am finishing the rough draft of the third book in a trilogy I started three years ago. I am plotting out a plan to write 45,000 in the next 30 days. That should take me to just about the end of my book. But what then?

As easy as it is to commit to writing rough drafts, my next step is twofold. First, I will edit my stuff to the point I think it is marketable. Second, I will market it. I have plenty of material to work on. Now I need to try to sell it.

And that’s the rub. It’s like the first book I wrote. I put it in an envelope, addressed it, stamped it, and promptly left it on my desk for the next two weeks. Why? If I never sent it in, I would never be rejected. Rejection is not fun. But it is part of the game.

And I have to get used to it. Just as I need to get used to taking risks.