Letting it out

I’ve noticed two opposing impulses when I think about people reading my book.  First is the thrill of knowing that people will have a chance to share in your vision.  It is so humbling to think that someone, somewhere, has spent some of their money and time to read what I have to say.  But at the same time, it was nerve racking to submit a final version for publication.  Maybe the reason is that I am such a perfectionist that I probably could spend the rest of my life writing and re-writing Vague Pains– though I’m not sure how emotionally healthy that would be!  If I’m honest with myself there is another factor: putting my book out there makes me vulnerable.  What if it sucks?  Perhaps worse than being merely bad, what if its boring?!  As long as it remains a work in progress, I can tell myself that it will be a work of utter genius…at some point.

A few months ago, after years of rewrites, something changed.  I started to feel a sense of peace, that the story was finally done.  It reached a point where (after 10 years) I felt that it finally did justice to the idea I had way back at the beginning.  Still…I can’t shake that same anxious anticipation that all authors must feel when they have their first release.  Oh well, here goes!

I love Kickstarter

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As a first time author I learned (and still are learning) a lot as I navigated getting my book out into the world.  Theoretically you should make a budget when you self publish, but so much depends on the sales numbers- which of course you can’t anticipate- that any theoretical budgeting rapidly goes out the window.

That was one reason I decided to use a Kickstarter campaign to finance the publishing of my book.  I could see how many people were actually interested in buying the book, and offer some extras to bring help offset the expense of editing and graphic design.  I was really thrilled with the results.  Having a successful campaign was a real confidence booster too!  It was a great feeling to have over half of a box of my books sold before they even arrived (and over a month before the release date).

“Write what you know”

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One of the most common pieces of advice for aspiring author is to write about what you know.  When I first started doing rotations in the hospital as a medical student I knew it would be an interesting setting for a story.  Still, when I began writing Vague Pains all those years ago I still felt like an outsider in the hospital.  It was easier for me to write through the eyes of a patient (Henry in the book).  Over the years my perspective changed, so I added a doctor-in-training, and finally a practicing physician.  None of these character are fully autobiographical, but I did put a little of myself into all three. In a way the book is a conversation with myself in different stages of my life.

Hard to believe

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It’s hard to believe that after about 10 years of effort Vague Pains is almost in print.  Instead of developing my skills as an author by writing many different stories (like most sane writers) I just kept rewriting my first story.  I knew this was the one I wanted to tell.  By the time I got the the end, I would go back to the start and find things to improve.  At times it was a very painful process, but at least it was a sign I was growing as a writer.  I’m still growing as a writer (I hope!), but I finally feel that I was able to do justice to the story in my head.  I can’t wait to see it in print.