How do writers overcome their fear

I was browsing through WordPress’s Reader when I stumbled upon a post that made me think.

In that post, the writer said he/she had been writing for 30 years, but had yet to take the leap and show her work to anyone. Near the end of the post the writer wondered how do writers manage to put our work out in the open, where the rest of the world can see it.

Speaking for myself here, it wasn’t too long ago when I had the same question in my head. The same question and of course the same fear. How would I ever show my work to complete strangers? Even worse, how would I ever show my work to those I knew personally? What if they didn’t like it? What if they laughed at me? Even if they didn’t laugh, how would I ever face them again, knowing that they didn’t like my work or that they merely said they liked it in order not to hurt my feelings?

So what’s the driving force that helps a writer to overcome similar fears? I think the answer to this comes down to a lot of factors.

First, and always speaking for myself, one has to take into account the role of vanity. Vanity for doing something not many others do. Vanity for potentially succeeding into something not many people do. Vanity, because if we do succeed, then our names will be known and fans will flock to us. Yeah, I know that’s almost never the case for writers, but before reality strikes, while we’re still wet behind the ears, such thoughts are too familiar. C’mon, admit it, fellow writers. I don’t know if the word indulge is the right one, but we do like the idea. We like the idea of talking to someone and telling them that we’re writers, so we can hear, “really?! A writer?! Wow!” It’s like writers are a bunch of mythical creatures that populate local folk tales and all of the sudden, boom! One stands right before people’s eyes. Everyone knows writers exist… somewhere, but people don’t often encounter them. I think we like that feeling. It plays well with vanity, don’t you think? So that’s one way to do things.

Then there’s this mindset: what’s the worst thing that can happen if I get rejected? I think this is a healthy way of seeing things, because once we understand this, once we accept this as reality, then we know that the worst thing to happen will be to receive a form rejection letter. I think the world will keep on existing, the Earth will keep on spinning, and people’s everyday lives will carry on regardless of the rejection. Rejection letters carry a weight, but they’re not that powerful to mess with someone’s life. So, basically, we just take the plunge. It’s a leap of faith. And we have faith to ourselves. It may sound that there’s something missing, some secret I haven’t told you, but the truth is we just do it. That’s another way.

Then there are those who firmly believe that only good things can come from rejections: we can improve (very important) and we can develop a tougher skin for such things (equally important). All one has to do, is send their work for the first time. You’ll probably say, “easier said than done.” You’re right. But if you take for granted that when you first start out you’ll get rejected, if get into that mindset (I know it comes natural to me since I’m a pessimist), then sending a query to a magazine or an agent or a publisher simply becomes a formality like any other we go through in our daily lives. Have you never had to ask for something in your workplace only to get rejected? When you hear or read the word NO, don’t you carry on with your task at hand, your daily lives? Does it diminish you, as a person, in any way? Most likely not. How’s querying for a story any different? If you had asked your supervisor/co-worker in a different way, if you had pushed your proposal differently, would that have helped? If yes, wouldn’t you try again? And again? Isn’t that the same thing for a writer? That’s a third way of

Keep in mind that it only takes one person to say yes to your work. Just one. One person to believe in you. It might as well be you. You’re a good start 😉

Lastly, the way I see it, for writers, only three things are certain in life: death, taxes, and rejection. Once we accept that, how much can a little rejection affect us? How much should it affect us? At the end of the day, if you want to avoid getting rejected, improve your craft. Make it stellar! The means are within your grasp, folks! There’s not much we can do about death and taxes, but we can certainly battle our fear for rejection. In fact, it may very well be the only one of the three that is not able to control us. Fear of rejection is not as strong as we often make it to be.

Learning new things

*Disclaimer: I’m in the mood for gifs today, so you’ll get a few of them with this post*

Being self published doesn’t always mean you have to do everything on your own, but sometimes circumstances force you to do so.

As I mentioned earlier, my debut post apocalyptic horror novel, The Darkening, will be launched near the end of the year, probably around late October or early November. For that, I have hired an editor (all edits are now done) and am waiting to hear back from my designer. Unfortunately, his busy schedule doesn’t allow him to start working on my project before July. So after I dealt with these two very important parts of the production of a book, I thought that would be it. I’d upload the manuscript on each platform, and all I’d have to do between then and the launch date would be to promote it.

Ermm, how about no?

It turned out that I had forgotten another important bit: internal formatting.

What in the name of dark hell was that?!

I had spent virtually all my (meagre) budget on the editor and I would spend the remaining on the designer. In fact, after reviewing my budget, I realised I had nothing left for promotion!

So the first thought was: is internal formatting something I can skip?

Apparently no. Well, I could, but that would interfere with the quality of the product I wanted to produce.

Now, I know that Amazon has created a Word plugin that creates a basic template for all the available printing options they provide, including trim size. But the problem for me was that this plugin only works on newer versions of Word, you know, the ones with the ugly ribbon menu thing its creators decided to introduce?

Yeah, how about no?

Like many other writers out there, I refuse to work on something with a UI (user interface) that is non-configurable based on my needs. If you think that I’m the only weirdo around the writing realms, think again!

You tell ’em, George!

So since the Word version I work with (2003, if you’re wondering) could not use that plugin and I could not outsource the task, I had to figure out how to format my book on my own. And I did. Partly… Sort of… Kind of…

Enter InDesign. Luckily a friend lent me an older version of the program to test and try out just for this project. And surprisingly enough, if one who knows nothing about internal formatting or InDesign wishes to use it to create simple interior book designs, then it won’t take more than a couple of days to learn it. Thank Youtube for that!

So I managed to create a decent printable copy of my manuscript, and I now have a fraction of a basic understanding of how to use the program. It’s definitely in my to-buy list, even though I know I will only be using a tiny fraction of its capabilities.

Now if I could only figure out a way to make it create a decent epub version without messing everything up, I’d be one step closer to world domination!

 

Excerpt from Ground Floor, Second Room To The Left

Ground Floor, Second Room To The Left is a week old. I was so stressed the past few weeks with this release as well as the production of my debut novel, that I actually didn’t think I would make it in time. But at last, it happened. It’s out!

 

 

Those of you following my page on Facebook or are in my newsletter, had already had a chance to read an excerpt of my latest short story. Below you can read the first couple of pages from Ground Floor, Second Room To The Left.

In case you missed it last week, this is the story of Joe and Lucy, a married couple of scavengers, who enter a derelict building to steal copper pipes, only to realise they’re locked in. Things take a turn for the worse because Lucy is claustrophobic and can’t stand the idea of being trapped. But the real problem is the messages that begin to appear on the walls, floor, and ceiling. More importantly, what the messages tell Joe and Lucy they need to do for freedom.

You can get your copy from Amazon or from some of the other biggest retailers.

——

The Second Empire-style house has stood since 1947, but no one has ever lived in it. To the left of the structure stands a pair of dead poplar trees, their branches entwined like Graeco-Roman wrestlers. To the right is a pair of desiccated oaks, also with entangled limbs. The trees dominate the yellow-brown jungle that once was the garden.

An old Ford F-100 pulls over not far from the rickety wooden fence. In it, Joe takes a photo out of his pocket and looks at it. It’s a photo of the house, taken shortly after its construction, but it’s one without the trees. His brow arches up and he lifts the photo next to the house to compare the two. He nods and puts it back in his breast pocket. He then places his hand on Lucy’s knee and gives it an affectionate rub.

Now that the rain has finally stopped, Joe switches the wipers off, allowing Lucy a clear view of the building. As she examines it, a small knot forms at the pit of her gut that chases away the fake excitement she had up to now. Under the racing lead-coloured clouds, the house stands dark, barren, and wind-bitten. Almost on the verge of falling in on itself.

A small bulge on her throat goes down once and rises slowly, but she gives her husband a smile and hopes he doesn’t notice her discomfort. She takes his hand into hers to give it a soft kiss, and rests her head on his shoulder for the last bumpy and mud-filled stretch of road leading to the house.

They park the battered Ford in the overgrown gravel driveway.

“Looks ancient,” Lucy says. “No owners?”

“Nope. Unclaimed property for over three or four decades. Locals said no one has set foot here except one or two demolition crews.”

“Well, it’s still standing,” Lucy says.

Joe smiles. “Yeah. Crews stayed one day, then left and never came back. According to the locals, the place is haunted.”

She arches a brow. “Haunted?”

Joe waves a hand as if shooing a fly. “Rumours. Old people’s tales. I mean, really old, with more snow on their pates than teeth in their mouths and brains in their heads. They said the architect and his assistant vanished, like some of those who came to tear it down.” He opens the driver’s door and places one foot out. “You ask me, I say they all ran out of money, packed up, and left.” He gives her a toothy grin and steps outside.

Lucy takes a two-piece folding mirror out of her pocket and stares back at her curved nose, her complexion with as many imperfections as there are exes in her past. Ex-hairdresser, ex-phone saleswoman, ex-wife to an online scammer she married after a wild weekend in Vegas with a ton of booze and several snorts of the good white stuff. His treat.

Her gaze drifts back to the way they came, to the barely visible tree line that defines the main road. Then she eyes the dilapidated structure before her, and a weight settles on her chest.
—–

If that enticed you enough to want to buy the story, you can do so from Amazon or if they’re not your favourite place to buy ebooks, try any of these retailers instead.

And if you do honour me with your purchase, why not share your thoughts about the story with other readers out there? You can do it by leaving a brief and honest review of what you read. Not only will it help me, but it will help others to find a story they might like (or stay away from, if you think it was bad).

On a side note, I have made some changes to my mailing list. Now, anyone who signs up for my monthly newsletters will receive a free short story! So, sign up here or try the link to the right (near the top of the page, under the search bar), and download your copy. Naturally, I won’t hold it against you if you choose to spread the news far and wide about the free story so others will know… 😉

Published in the #redditwriters anthology

Just a quick note to let everyone know that the anthology I mentioned a couple of weeks ago is now live. You can get your copy here (for you in the US, and here for those of you in the UK). The title is TL;DR: A Redditwriters Mixtape Vol. 1

In its pages you will find thirty-one stories from twenty-six authors. There is no theme to the anthology, so almost everyone will find at least one story to his or her liking. There’s fantasy, crime, horror, and even comedy.

Why should you buy this anthology? Because that way you’d be giving to charity. The proceeds from this endeavour go directly to Doctors Without Borders. So, if you buy a copy, you won’t be giving money to us, but for a good cause.

 

I hope you enjoy it! Happy reading, everyone!

Published in an upcoming anthology

I’m between migrating from one computer to another. I could write a small horror story of how a certain operating system manufacturer found a way to piss off every user who wants to choose what operating system (OS) they install in their PCs. Believe me, I could. But, thanks to a friend who is by far more knowledgeable than I am, we managed to get around said OS’s locks, and I now have set up my PC with the operating system I wanted it to have in the first place.

But that’s not what this post is about.

About a year ago, I joined reddit. While there, I found and followed a community of writers known as RedditWriters. They all were at various stages in their careers, some with a readership of their own, some just starting out. At some point, one of the writers had an idea: create an anthology with our work, and put it out there. Everyone loved the idea, and almost everyone submitted pieces to the editors. I submitted one of my vignettes. A couple of months ago, the editors informed me that my piece was accepted.

The editor in charge of the project informed us yesterday that the collection will be available on 30 March 2018 from Amazon, as an e-book, as well as from CreateSpace as a hard copy. The e-book will cost £1.99 (about $2.77 at the time of writing this). Obviously the hard copy will cost more. The title will be TL;DR, which stands for Too Long; Didn’t Read, a typical internet acronym, often seen on Reddit and other message boards.

All proceeds from the anthology will be donated to Doctors Without Borders.

If you want to know more about the project and those who made it possible, visit Joe Butler’s site. I will get back to you with download links as soon as I have them.

Finally, if you’re looking for free books (sci-fi, fantasy, or horror), have a look at this giveaway I’m part of.

Sixty writers, veterans and newcomers, have joined forces for this. The giveaway ends on 26 March 2018.