Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Into The Arena

A part of me feels like I have thrown myself to the lions. I have forwarded Advanced Review Copies to about 10 people in hopes of getting some good back cover quotes or blurbs.
I say lions not because any of these people are snarky or mean in the slightest but because of my own writer insecurities-I'm feelin all bi-polar bear about it. On the one hand I honestly think I have written the best book in its genre ever period. And on the other hand I worry that no one is going to like it, that it's too weird, too violent, too different from what people expect and then swinging back around the other way that's exactly what I wanted to do isn't it? Yes of course it is. The book of frakkin Ace!

Earlier this year, I submitted a first chapter to a contest for the LDStorymakers contest. Dance the Ghost with Me a weird western starring Porter Rockwell and mysterious Indians from a far off land-lots of spirits whispering in his ear and also a cursed ancient tomb. I had the butterfly's then too. I was guessing that either I would win or I would be shot down hardcore. All the entries were to be judged by panels and critiqued so I knew I would have a number of people looking the yarn over and I wondered if they would universally pan it.

During lunch at the conference as they were preparing to announce the winners, they halted to do a skit mocking a last minute entry as if it was done by a certain vampire inducing writer. Lots of people laughed at the skit but I couldn't stand it, I wanted to know if I had won or lost, not laugh about the poor writing skills of a ridiculously popular author.

Finally they were done. And I won First Prize for general fiction-seems all the judges really liked my yarn about Porter except one and the strength of the others was enough to overpower them and give me the prize and more importantly the validation I wanted. I no longer worried if people would like my yarns-until today. Like I said bi-polar bear. I maybe ought to pull out that critique from months ago and refresh my brain that people like my yarns-there was some worthwhile encouragement in there, such as "with stuff like this you will be a published author".

That was nice to hear and of course not even a week later I got a phone call from WiDo publishing offering me not one, but two contracts for my submissions-Heroes of the Fallen and Blood of Our Fathers. So obviously they liked my stuff too. How many other writers out there get these bi-polar feelings about submitting? Heck I'm not even submitting to a publisher anymore-I'm asking other writers and professors what they think of my work, it's already been accepted it's just more of that weakness, that ridiculous sensitivity to my yarns. For me facing lions in the arena would be a much easier task.


David J. West said...

Anything about me being sensitive was dirty rotten lie-it was all fiction. That's what fiction writers do-tell lies.

Melanie Goldmund said...

Congratulations on winning that prize! That book sounds like something I would like to read, with Porter Rockwell, mysterious Indians, and a cursed ancient tomb! Was it just a first chapter or is there more?

And yes, I feel exactly the same way. I think I've written something good -- really good -- and yet I'm worried if people will like it. I've just put out a new fanfiction story that is probably the best thing I've ever written, and yet I'm biting my fingernails and hoping the reviews will be favourable. So far, they are, but there's still the ending, and a big chance that some of the dialogue could be too sappy ... and yeah. If you want to read it, if you have the time, the first chapters are up on my site. Not that I'm tooting my own horn here, well, not too loudly, I hope, but I wouldn't mind a manly man's opinion on what I can do better. :-)

David J. West said...

I'm a good 3 chapters (plus outline material) into Dance the Ghost with Me and as of right now am theoretically planning on it becoming my 4th novel.

I will read it and get back to you.

M. Gray said...

I get very paranoid. But I feel, rightfully, so. I have a lot to learn but truly appreciate when others still give me a shot and decide my strengths outweigh my weaknesses.

Karen Gowen said...

Welcome to the world of anxiety- ridden writers, David, there's a reason for all those jokes about us, I guess. I keep reminding myself to focus on the positive feedback I am getting about Uncut Diamonds, and to let the not so positive comments go. After all, not even the best writers have books that everyone likes. Same with movies. How many blockbusters or Academy -award winning movies are universally loved?---None, same with books. You will surely get enough good comments for some awesome back cover blurbs, I am so sure about that.

Angie said...

I feel that way all the time. I'm having a particular crisis with just that sort of thing right now. It must be normal. Phew. I'm excited to read your book!

L.A. DeVaul said...

I like to be overly positive about everything, and I say when something is brilliant, and different it usually gets terrible reviews because people don't know how to take. ie. something coming out before its time. Usually though, these poorly received brilliant works also bring about great change.

So my thought is: if your work is brilliant, and it gets mediocre reviews, then your time will come sooner or later. Possibly after you die. So that's hopeful, right?

On the other hand, if it is widely received with great reviews, then your timing was perfect. The world was ready for your brilliant work.

All of this is assuming your book is brilliant, if it is not then there is no hope.

So that should make you feel better. Or worse. Depending.

David J. West said...

Thanks everyone for your comments, there must be something to writers flucuating moods.

Yeah . . . . L.A.
Either way, it is a goal that the book is so chock full of great material warranting multiple reads for multiple revelations that people will want to keep reading long after I am gone.

Tamara Hart Heiner said...

I could've written this blog. In fact, I think I'll copy it onto my blog and pretend I wrote it. I so hear you.

David J. West said...

Ok, I won't tell.

Chad said...

quit being such a surrender monkey. Your work is good and it will stand the test. o r as jackson county used to say.." hold the gap" I believe in you. and your writing is great.. Kick @$$ and take names A-team leader!!

David J. West said...

Thanks Chad-surrender monkey though? that's kind of harsh isn't it? You write your mountain man epic and then lets see if you don't get the butterflys when it comes to criticism.

Guess I better do a manly warrior post next to make up for this one.