I recently spoke with three writers who were all in the same I’m-done-editing-my-manuscript phase of the publishing process.
Two of them were fiction writers. One had a non-fiction piece. But their subject matter aside, they were all ready to either push the self-publishing button or start promoting their manuscripts to literary agents.
The way they saw it, enough editing had occurred already. They were ready to take the next big step.
Naturally, I asked how they felt about it. And every single one of them admitted they were nervous, which got me thinking.
I don’t think writers should ever be completely confident before they present a piece to the public. They should be nervous about publishing or promoting their manuscripts. They should experience a little bit of fear and trepidation about what they’re doing and how they’ll be perceived.
Publishing a book, fiction or non-fiction, is not an endeavor to take lightly. It’s one we should consider very, very carefully before we go through with it.
None of this is to discourage you from reaching for the stars or going for the gold or any of those other worthwhile clichés. It’s simply to encourage you to see the publishing process as more than a happily ever after.
Publishing is the continuation of a journey, not the end. There will be more highs and lows after your manuscript is no longer a manuscript but a full-fledged book. And to some degree, that’s dependent on your nervousness-to-courage ratio.
I recently discovered YouTube presentations by Ravi Zacharias, one of which brought up the issue of a painless harmful world. Apparently (mentioned at minute 24:43), there’s a teenaged girl down in Georgia who has that rare disease that prevents her from feeling any pain whatsoever.
Awesome! Right? Who wouldn’t sign up for a life devoid of pain from stubbed toes and broken bones and gaping wounds?
Except that, as this girl’s mother and Ravi Zacharias point out, the absence of pain doesn’t make the world any less harmful. It’s the exact opposite.
Stubbed toes still happen. Bones can still break, and wounds can still open. The only difference is that there’s no personal concept of pain, which is designed to protect us. We humans are prone to avoid things that might hurt us not just because of momentary unpleasantness but also the potential for long-term loss of ability.
Pain is a useful cautionary tool that makes us think twice before we do something dangerous or stupid.
In the same way, that nervousness that comes when we really start thinking about publishing a piece is an asset we shouldn’t take lightly. It makes us study our manuscripts more closely, analyzing and editing and proofreading them into a more polished state than they otherwise would be.
Is there a point when we need to stop analyzing and editing and proofreading? Of course. That’s where our courage needs to kick in with the understanding that some efforts are worth the pain.
We authors and authors-in-the-making just need to make sure we’re as prepared as possible for the slings and arrows of opinionated and over-opinionated readers and reviewers.
If a little anxiety can stave off some of those – forcing us to be more critical of our works, thereby giving readers less opportunity to criticize – then like I said at the beginning of this post… Good!
A nervous writer is a healthy writer. And healthy writers produce stronger manuscripts and better books, which is very good indeed.