Sunday, April 18, 2010

When crazy attacks

Earlier today, I melted down like a tired two-year-old.

I've poured so much of myself into my writing -- into my novel -- over the past three years that I think I've somehow managed to jiggle something loose upstairs, if you know what I mean.

What I'm trying to say is: I think I'm losing my mind.

Bear with me here.

Most of you who follow this little blog know I can get all poor me at times, that I suffer from an extreme case of insecurity. That I occasionally become utterly overcome with the fear that I won't get published, that I quit my job -- my career -- for nothing. I worry that my family will starve, that some guy with a crew cut wearing an ugly tie and a short-sleeved dress shirt (God, I hate short-sleeved dress shirts!) will knock on the door holding some kind of official-looking document and take everything away from us.

No. I'm serious here. Quit laughing.

See, I sent out all these copies of the book to beta readers and as of this morning, I'd only heard from three. One finished it and loved it (my dear father in law, who would probably tell me if he hated it) while the other two are online writer buddies who are slogging through it and seem to like it so far (Shout out to Gina and Kristy; you guys rock!).

But the others? Zip. Nada. Nothing. My God. It's. Been. Two. Freaking. Weeks.

By early this afternoon, I was convinced that I suck more than a hungry anteater. My poor wife, who is the busiest person in the world and who is chasing her own dreams, hasn't had time to read it. Again. For the umpteenth time. The poor woman has already been through the manuscript almost as many times as I have.

But I didn't think about that then. No, I simply freaked out. OK, maybe not completely. Well, now that I think about it, yes, I did. I freaked out. I wasn't angry at her or the beta readers.

No. I was angry at myself. How could I be so stupid as to think I could quit my job, write a book -- a damned novel of all things -- and then just sit back and rake in the big bucks. What an idiot I am. See, I don't think like normal people. I'm not content to just get published.

I want a fucking best-seller. Half measures don't interest me. I want it all, baby. Or I want nothing. See? Told you I was crazy.

Meanwhile, the bastards I worked with and for at the newspaper for many more years than I care to remember have been sitting around having a good laugh at my expense. And what was I doing? Why, I was sitting here at this computer -- pissing my life away.

God, I hate it when people like that are right, you know?

So after my wife (who thank God loves me even though I sometimes act like a madman) went to work, I sat on the deck and sulked. Poor little me.

And then my father in law called. He'd finished the manuscript a week ago and we had already discussed it. But he called today just to tell me again how much he loved it. To tell me how proud he is of me, how glad he is that I married his daughter. We talked for several minutes about the characters in the book, about the possibility of a sequel. When I hung up, my heart was singing.

It was a gift from God, that call was.

And then I heard from another beta, who told me he's reading it and for me not to worry.

And then I heard from yet another, who stayed up last night to finish it. She absolutely loved it and she talked excitedly for a long time about the characters and the book and how proud she is to know me, etc. Her husband is reading it now and she wanted to know if it was okay with me if her mother and a friend read it next. She thinks they will love it.

So I called my wife and apologized for being a jerk. And then I went back outside on the deck and smoked a cigar. And I damn near cried like a baby.

See? I'm losing my mind. And I blame all this writing stuff. Either that, or all the drugs I did back in the day. But that's a whole other story.


  1. Hang in there mate. I compare it to giving birth, and let's face it, this is your first and it is bloody terrifying.

    Have to ask though, what the hell are beta readers?

  2. MM: Beta readers are like beta testers -- they're just readers (some are also writers, some aren't) who enjoy this particular genre. They read it and then basically give feedback on what they liked or disliked about it.

    It's helpful since reading is so subjective. It allows me a number of differing opinions. I basically am looking for consenus -- when two or three people are saying the same thing. Then I know I need to look at that particular part of the manuscript.

  3. Hang in there, Terry, I know it's tough at times, but keep slogging away, it'll happen.

  4. You are sooooo funny! Pitching a fit like a two year old and then crying after. I love it.

    You are not stupid to quit your job and write a novel. I did too. The people at work are JEALOUS of you that you had the balls to up and quit to chase your dream. Your wife loves you no matter what kind of an asshat you're being.

    I've read your work Terry, I've read the query you had out. That book will be bought, will be sold, and will be read. You are just having a little fit of 'writer crazy'. We all go through it.

    Now, buck up, RE-FUCKING-LAX, and get on with writing your next book. (Which I read the first pages the other day and holy shit batman, they were great.) If this is how you're going to be now, what the hell are you going to be like when you query? RELAX, take a deep breath. I know you want it NOW, so do I, so does everyone else, but it just doesn't work that way.

    You have to have patience. And make sure you give your wife a big fat kiss when you see her next.

  5. I think it's awesome that you're getting so many positive responses from your beta readers. Hang in there!

  6. Hang in there, Terry. Patience is a virtue. So I've been told...

    I must remember that when I'm waiting feedback :)

  7. Thanks for sharing this, Terry. I think we all get a case of the crazies from time to time. Just last month my better half came home and found me laying on living room floor, crying, and cursing him for "letting me" quit corporate training to write. Heh.

    It's all part of the process.

  8. Terry! Knock it off!

    I hate to be the one to inform you (no I don't)
    that WE are not the only people who think like this. Many, many people go through this. We are not any different from most of humankind. Everyone obsesses, everyone goes through periods of insecurity and fear. It's not just US.

    When I started reading books on writing there were so many strange similarities to the other BOOK I read. The process that writers go through is strangely familiar to what addicts go through. The thought process, the feelings, etc...and because WE have probably acted on more of our thoughts than most do, we have this affinity for major guilt. Guilt that is actually justified because we DID many things we regret.

    Learn to be an alchemist. Turn anything negative into something you can use for positive. It's there. I know it. You know it.

    If you didn't have all of this angst, you wouldn't have the desire, drive and passion that you do. If you didn't have the experience you have you wouldn't be where you are today. And IT IS a great place. You WILL succeed. Stop worrying and force yourself to enjoy this break that you have right now because it won't always be this way. It will get hectic and chaotic again.

    If you were still at that job you would be wondering what the hell it would be like to quit and do all that you're doing right now. You would still be hating your job. Nothing would be different. Think about it.

    Stop creating all this chaos for yourself. It's all in your head. Learn to be in the calm, the peace.

    Your pal.

    I am reading little by little and still loving it!

    Word Verification: REEMAKU. How 'bout that one Terry?!

  9. Thanks everyone. I don't post stuff like this to elicit sympathy or "hang in theres," although I *do* like them (more, more). ;)

    I post this stuff because I am trying to be as honest about my feelings and my life as I can be. My wife has always said I am an open book. And I am. It's how I live my life. I cannot go bat-shit crazy all day and then sit down and blog about kitty cats and unicorns. I won't do it.

    Nope. With me, what ya sees is what ya gets. For better or worse.

    Oh, and thanks for the ass kicking, Gina, although I believe I've remade myself so many times already that I can't remember what I started with. ;)

  10. I probably shouldn't say this about your venting post, but it made me feel so much better. I tried to be patient when I sent my ms out to my betas, but it ate me up inside waiting to hear back from them. It was easier to think they didn't read it in two or three days (tops) because it sucked ... rather than say, oh I don't know, they have lives of their own they have to deal with.

    I didn't quit my job, but I did get laid off at the end of last summer. And while I have been looking for a replacement job while I build my reader following (I like to think that being published is eventually going to be a given) my writing gets dealt with first and foremost every day.

    Kinda comforting to know I'm not alone ... even if we are both certifiably insane. :o)