I have a new book coming out. I want to tell you. But I also want to hide.
The temptation as an 'emerging' (cough cough) writer is to fake it till ya make it, y'know? Always act cooler and more confident than you actually feel, until, somehow, you don't need to fake any more because you aren't 'emerging' any more, but you're an actual author that everyone knows about.
But right now, with a new book on the way? I'm neither faking it nor making it. I'm floundering. I feel like Penny Pingleton from Hairspray when she meets Seaweed's mum.
Yes, I'm very, very excited to tell you that Charlie Franks is A-OK is being released in two weeks' time. Yes, I'm very pleased with it. I think it's funny, and enjoyable and I'm pretty sure that the girls who loved Coco Franks in Love and Muddy Puddles will get a kick of her sister's side of the story.
Bu-u-ut, I'm terrified too.
It's always, the what if's, the shouldn't I justs, the maybe it wills. And pretty much all of those questions end up in my head with every reader in the world hating the book, me failing and being severely embarrassed about putting so much effort in to trying to be a writer, for so very long, and then having to quit and go get another job in an office. Or a shoe shop. Or something.
It's strange how lack of confidence and 'failing' is embarrassing, really. I mean, it's not as if I'm the only person who's ever felt like this. I could pretty much guarantee that every single person I know has felt nervous, scared, embarrassed and vulnerable at many, many points in their lives. In fact, many of them, if not most, are probably feeling nervous, scared, embarrassed and vulnerable right at this moment.
In these days of being able to talk about everything, it's surprising that vulnerability and worry about personal failure is still off the table.
A Princeton professor recently published his 'CV of failures' on the internet. In it, he listed every achievement or job he'd ever tried for, but not succeeded at. It's gone viral, of course. Because it's unusual. Who does that? Who doesn't polish their CV so much that it outshines their shoes? It's a tough world out there. Only the confident, successful ones make it.
In Romans 12:3, the Bible talks about us thinking of ourselves 'with sober judgment' and 'not more highly than we ought'. I think that's smart. And it covers both ends of the confidence/shame continuum. I don't need to 'fake it till I make it' if I'm following these instructions. Instead, I can take stock of my abilities in a realistic way, without being, in good ol' Aussie vernacular 'up myself'. Yes, I'm a pretty good writer. I write quite well for my chosen audience. I'm not JK Rowling by any means, with her amazing plots and other worlds, but a lot of the girls who read my books enjoy them. Some even call them their favourites. I'm probably not going to win a national book award just yet, but if I work hard, and keep learning and persevering, one day I might.
At the same time, thinking of myself with sober judgment can keep me from falling into the holes of self-doubt, or drowning in the puddles of audience-terror - if I choose to hang on to it. Those questions - What if no one likes it? What if it fails? I don't even need to go there. The truth is: some people will like it. Not everyone will. but probably, a reasonable proportion of the ones who pick it up will think it's at least okay. Not everyone can like everything. And let's be honest, there are books I really don't like that other people adore.
The trick, though, is how to keep my mind in line. How to hang on to sober judgment while the vast, hairy temptations of ridiculous over-confidence or maudlin wallowing seem so very, very attractive. I have to keep repeating the verse over and over, and remembering that I am loved so very much by God. With that truth taking up the biggest space in my heart, there's not much for the fear, and success or failure don't really matter that much in the end, anyway.
Oh. The details of my book, in case you love stories for girls, or have a girl you love, who wants a story. It releases as an ebook at ALL the ebook retailers on May 12. It's called Charlie Franks is A-OK. And if you want a paperback copy, go here to my bookshop and get yourself one.