I’ve been under a considerable amount of pressure recently. Granted, some of it was self-generated, but it was pressure just the same.
I began writing a year ago. I started with a scrap, decided to finally pull up my big-boy pants and take the plunge. I put that scrap out there for people to read. Free, but even so; if you’ve never done it, the thought that you’ll be ignored (bad) or be publicly ridiculed (worse!) is really difficult. Especially if you’ve never been one of those who seemed ‘destined for success’. You know who those folks are; you also know if you’re not one of them.
I’ve never been.
A few kind readers responded. They liked the idea (they were charitable enough not to mention the quality of the writing!), so I continued. I got more responses.
Some of the responses contained suggestions. I took them to heart, tried to incorporate them. I got better. Heinlein famously claimed you’re not a writer until you’ve written a million words. I never got there, but I DID get better. I got more mail, including fan mail.
But those readers, even though my offerings were free, wanted me to post on a set schedule. I did; pressure built to keep on offering a chapter a week, then two. I’m capable of doing that much work.
That’s been there all along; I actually have fans, a truly heady feeling. But with that I’m forced to acknowledge they are fans with expectations. I feel the need to meet those expectations. Pressure.
But there’s a whole wide world out there, and a lot of them read books. Would THEY pay money to read my writings? Are my writings such that they will return after reading one book and want to read more? Pressure.
So I’ve responded; my fifth book, Talent, has been offered (in draft format; that doesn’t mean it’s not the best I can write, it’s simply an acknowledgement that revision and editing make any manuscript better), and I agreed I’d send in two chapters a week. Each chapter is between 2000 words and 3000 words. I’ve been doing that. And also revising my other books for publication. I’ve done that too. More pressure; having written four books, I wanted to see all of them in print. They’ll sink or swim, but I’ll try to keep them afloat; that too is pressure. I’m 74; there’s no guarantee I’ll have a tomorrow to do what I don’t get done today. That’s the ultimate pressure. Self generated, to be sure; that doesn’t mean it’s not present.
And finally, I got book four (The Trek; see Amazon for YOUR copy; my thanks ride along with the download!) published.
It felt so good I immediately finished Chapter 20 of Talent, then wrote most of Ch 21. It’s habit; I kept going, even though the pressure is mostly gone.
Now that it’s not there, I miss it, that pressure. I’m editing Bruce, and writing and researching Talent, and hey, maybe it’s time to write a few chapters of Home (Darwin’s World book III). Or maybe start a new series; I could do that, right? Oh, and keep this blog going. No posts, no readers. Pressure.
Yep, it’s there, that pressure. Self generated, to be sure. But if you can’t deal with pressure…well, don’t quit your day job!