I have a serious case of the jitters, Gentle Readers. I won’t lie: even after three books, the impending release of my fourth fills me with a combination of joy and dread. As I celebrate finishing a book — having survived the initial drafting, the endless rewrites, the sharp editorial blade of Pete Wolverton, more rewrites, copy-editors, and the bone-deep dread of whether or not the cover artist will “get” you (he did; a good man, that James Iacobelli) — I also stand in fear of it. What if it tanks, as The Lion of Cairo tanked? What if no one reads it? What if they DO read it and find it sorely wanting? What if . . .?
There is no amount of reassurance from any quarter that will allay these fears. The dread is cellular. We write because we feel we have something to say; we publish because we think it might be worthwhile for others to hear what we have to say. Writers are the perpetual youngest child, always clamoring for attention. When it’s positive, we preen; we feel better about our choices and feel like we might actually have something to offer the world, beyond being an object lesson in what not to do with your life. When that attention is negative, we withdraw. We become sullen, depressed; we exhibit signs of Stockholm Syndrome in that we begin to agree and sympathize with our critics. We really do suck.
Social media has become the writer’s best friend. More than a tool to get the word out, it serves as a means by which we can gain the positive reinforcement we need to keep going — for good or ill. If I’m having a bad day, I need only post about it and a dozen or more self-proclaimed fans of my writing will leap into the fray and do their damnedest to shake me loose from the clutches of that beast, Depression. Why? What do they get from it? The simple answer is, more work from me. Simple and lovely and something I could not have even imagined when I first put pen to paper in the pre-Internet days of the early 1980s.
A Gathering of Ravens will be unleashed upon the world at large in 13 days. In 9 days, I’ll begin working on its sequel, called Twilight of the Gods. If at any time I feel my resolve lagging, or my confidence falters, I know I need only ask my friends for help and — as they have done countless times in the past — ass-whuppin’ boots will be donned and inspiration will be dealt out tough-love style. And all for this simple yet lovely reason: they just want to read the next one.
Sláinte Mhaith to you, my friends.
Be sure to add your voice to the Thunder!