It’s here. It’s today. I have released A Time to Rise into the world. (Okay, so my publisher actually let it loose, but still…) I feel like a parent letting my kid go off to their first day of school and hoping that they find the right friends and avoid the bullies and change the world. 😛
I used to imagine what authors would feel when their books released. Once I got contracted in 2013, I got to experience that for myself. With A Time to Die I was on a terrified giddy high — terrified the world would hate my debut novel, but giddy because I could finally share Parvin Blackwater with the world. (And she’d finally end up with a slew of close friends. YOU!)
With A Time to Speak, I felt nothing but excitement. It was the strongest book I’d ever written (which isn’t saying much since I’d only written three manuscripts by that point–one of which needs to be burned, and the other two were ATtD & ATtS.) I couldn’t wait to let my faithful readers into the sequel that was so filled with adventures. I was so proud of the characters’ growth and where the story was taking them. And, *ahem*, a certain swoon-worthy male character. Okay I did bite my nails a bit about how everyone would react to the major cliffhanger ending. But look, it’s been a year AND YOU SURVIVED! (I know that doesn’t excuse what I’ve done…but I still wouldn’t change it. 😛 )
But A Time to Rise is a different story.
By August of this year, I was so nervous about its release that I would get physically queasy. This book was hard to write, guys. Not because of the content, but because of the deadline. And the fact that I didn’t have it all straight in my head. I had the main points, of course–I wasn’t just making up the conclusion of the story on the spot. (Can you imagine the mess?)
But this book never felt solid.
I rewrote the ending six times from scratch. I unraveled and retied and re-unraveled the character arcs of main characters over and over and over. I finally sent off the book to my publisher, and then thought of a thousand things I wanted to add/change/delete.
I never had the excitement for the world to read A Time to Rise. In fact, I dreaded its release because I was certain you would all be disappointed. I had a long list in my head of the things that you wouldn’t like or would point out as not fitting, or would say didn’t make sense. For weeks I couldn’t even let myself think about the book because I kept thinking, “People are excited, but they don’t realize yet that they won’t like it. They’ll feel incomplete by the end, I just know it.”
But then I realized that all these fears arose from the fact I was seeking validation from readers. I wish I could say that, once I realized this, I hopped back on my steed and charged into battle all, “FOR NARNIA, AND FOR ASLAAAAAAAN!” But no. I was more like, “Yup. I’m seeking reader approval and I’m not sure how to change that. Uh…God?”
After I took Allen Arnold’s class at the ACFW Conference, I returned home and the doubt and fears and sickening dread hit me so hard. So hard, friends. I couldn’t sleep and I even contemplated, “Is it too late to ask my publisher to pull A Time to Rise from the line-up?” The next day I ditched work — I ditched the 200 emails waiting for me, the books I needed to read, the planning and blog writing I needed to do — and went to the coffee shop with my journal.
Guess who was there?
Yup. God. Waiting with an open ear and a perfect chai.
After two hours of journaling and trying to process the many lessons from The Story of With (such as “God, what do You think of my writing?”), He finally peeled back my skin and bone until my heart lay exposed and vulnerable. And finally, finally, I got it. God cared about me. He cared about my heart. He cared more about relationship than the product.
And I realized it didn’t matter how awful A Time to Rise was. Only He mattered.
A couple weeks later, the advance reader copies for A Time to Rise went out. . . and I felt nothing but peace. A few nerves flittered here and there, but I just realigned my thinking. Then the the positive feedback started coming in. Frankly, I was shocked. And then encouraged. The feedback comforted me but didn’t define me.
I cried. A lot. (happy tears!)
And now it’s release day. You have A Time to Rise and I’m excited. I’m confident. I’m not nervous at all, just ready for you to know the end and to share this finale with you. <3 Thank you for coming with me all this way. There’s a little note to my readers in the back of the book and I hope you know I mean every word.
So with that . . . let’s go celebrate. (In the way bookworms celebrate, which really just means “go read”.)
Do you ever find yourself placing your worth in the feedback of others? How do you combat that?