Every writer you know who has been shelving manuscript after manuscript; every writer you know who frantically checks their sales page every half hour; every writer you know who spends more time staring down a blank page than actually writing; every writer you know who is too afraid to even call themselves that isn’t actually afraid of not finishing. But of not being good enough. The fear of failure has crippled us all, and if we’re lucky we experience a little bit of success–enough to quell those fears for a while. But what no one tells you is that success fixes nothing. Because once you have a little bit of success, that fear of failure is quickly replaced by something else. The fear of being a disappointment.
While finishing TDOTN, every time I felt blocked, the words barely trickling out, I had the luxury of reminding myself that I had finished 6 other novels. I could finish this one too. I would. Success had leveled some of my doubt but it wasn’t the fear of running out of words that kept stopping me in my tracks. It was the fear of finishing, of coming to the end of the series, and it not being good enough. Not good enough for readers. Not good enough for the characters and the world I’d spent 5 years building.
I spent 2 years working on this novel–rewriting, revising, building it piece by piece and tearing it back down again. I came to a point when I realized that it would never be perfect–a moment of revelation I have with every novel–and that if I didn’t set some kind of deadline I would never be able to move on. I needed to move on. So that’s what I did. I set a deadline. I finished the novel. I published it. And then my worst fears came true. People were disappointed.
This blog post isn’t about me trying to explain the lesson in all of this. It’s still too fresh for me to find the value. I understand the mistakes I made and how I let down my readers who pre-ordered the novel by delivering a faulty file. I also understand how great of a risk it was to trust that Amazon would value its KDP authors enough to fix the mistakes they made as well. But I’m not talking about the disappointment surrounding how the book was delivered to customers. I’m talking about the disappointment people felt about the story. The story. My world. My characters. My ending. Right now…it’s way too painful to understand the lesson in all of that. But I will. One day soon I will wake up and not be so afraid to start again.