One of the most depressing days in a writer’s life is when they finish their work-in-progress. You’d think it’d be a James Caan break-out-the-bubbly moment like in Stephen King’s Misery, but truly, it’s more like Kathleen Turner in Romancing the Stone, crying like a baby as she types The End. The latter’s an apt analogy, because there ‘s definitely some postpartum issues going on, and although you feel a sense of release, it’s also pretty scary. Mainly because although the creative part is finished the business end kicks in, and suddenly the kind of terror you’re facing makes that Scary First Page look like all kitty and bunny cuteness. You start going all agoraphobia, freaked at the idea of sending Baby out into the cruel, cruel world, completely certain everyone will discover you for the hack — or even worse — the fraud, the imposter you are. “Take THAT bitch!” you imagine as another rejection skids into your inbox, “who ever told you you can write?” (actually, a “mentor” once did say that to me, an Iowa Workshop graduate who I now can only remember as Dick.) You start doubting yourself, convinced everything you ever wrote is shit and trash-worthy, and you end up with your ass still in pajamas at 4:00 PM eating Tater Tots and binge-watching old episodes of Family Ties. Pathetic.
Of course, this is the most extreme scenario, and not completely reflective of my reality. I’m fortunate enough to have an agent who believes in my work, and a couple good leads on this new thing. But that doesn’t mean everything I described above hasn’t gone through my head, and it’s certainly nothing I haven’t faced before. (Okay, no Family Ties, but I did recently binge five episodes of Outlander and nearly the whole season of Girls.) The thing is no matter what stage you are in your writing career, you’re not immune to self-doubt and imposter syndrome and the fact that you’re only as good as your latest success. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t let go. I did, and as proof–oh what the hell, here’s the first chapter of my latest book to prove it. Go ahead and read it and let me know what you think. Just don’t make me call you Dick.