The first thing I do when we check into a motel room on the road is get my laptop up and running – hook up to Wi-Fi, post my location on Facebook for my daughter, then check my email and my stats on WordPress. The other day I received an email from my author account manager at FriesenPress telling me the editorial evaluation of my novel had been completed and was attached. My breath caught and I felt jittery. I debated closing the email and running out the door into the streets of Ashland, Oregon.
But of course I didn’t do any such thing. I opened the attachment and began to read the thing out loud to my husband, who was sitting on the bed behind me. The first paragraph flowed on with complimentary words.
Ya sure. I know the cookie method of feedback as well as the next person – you always sandwich the bad stuff in between layers of positive – no need to overwhelm the poor, novice hack – right?
I read on – waiting and waiting for the bad layer but it didn’t come. The reviewer was positive right on through to the end – sure there are a few things I need to attend to but in her words (somehow I am just positive the reviewer was female – crazy assumption, I know that) the novel is at an advanced stage of readiness for publication and she concluded by saying she had been absolutely hooked by the characters. That last line, combined with her earlier suggestion that my novel belongs in the category of dramatic literary fiction and should not be limited by a designation of romance, had me wanting to burst into tears of gratitude.
I allowed myself a minute to savor this evaluation of my work – 60 glorious seconds where I glowed with the thought that someone who wasn’t married to me, related to me, or had been a friend of mine for decades really liked my book. Then the voices in my head (just your regular garden variety voices folks – nothing dramatic enough to be really interesting and/or life shattering and sad) began to interject doubt.
The dialogue goes a bit like this:
You are paying them, remember? How can you be sure of anything they say to you?
Well – it’s in their best interest to publish something that reads well – it’s their reputation, too.
Come on – you are always so naïve – they’re out to make money. You forfeited the right to glow like this when you went the route of vanity press.
Well, you get the idea. No matter how hard I try, I can’t seem to rid myself of this doubter voice in my head that tells me I am sitting in coach, riding in the back of the bus. I feel the way I felt after I had worked so hard to get my undergrad degree – years of community college and distant education courses. Another 60 seconds or so of pleasure to be followed by the voice that told me – a degree from Open Learning Institution – come on now – is that something to be so proud of? It’s not like a real degree at all – is it? After completing a Master’s Degree on campus at a very real university, I realized how hard it had been to do that undergrad degree – but of course I didn’t know that then. The old doubter voice had a field day with me.
Old habits die hard. I admit – I let the voice have its way with me once again – what else can one do with such a constant companion. But I’ll let you in on a little secret. At least a hundred times a day – when the doubter voice is quiet, lulled by my seeming acquiescence, I laugh inside and pinch myself (figuratively, you understand) with glee and tell myself – someone I don’t even know read my book and liked it!