Are all writers insecure?
Maybe not, but most will admit to it at least some of the time, and for many insecurity is a recurring thing. As I’ve said before, writing is a strange blend of absolute insecurity and the sheer arrogance of that belief that other people should spend several hours with something we’ve written: my words deserve your attention!
Before I start a project I worry about whether the idea behind it is strong enough. While I’m writing I worry about whether I have the skills to do the idea justice. While I’m rewriting and discovering just how bad my first draft is I look back on all the time I’ve invested so far and wonder how I can ever justify doing this thing. When I send the story to my first reader, agent or publisher I’m terrified that all my doubts so far are going to be confirmed in a single line “You sent me this… why?” response.
But there are those magical moments along the way. If I’ve reached the point of worrying about doing the idea justice, at least that means I now believe in the idea itself. And there are times when I’m rewriting when I get carried away with the story and realise that something in there is working. Times when I come to edit a scene and I wonder where on earth that came from: the refugee camp and the rape scene in The Accord, for example, or the approach to Harmony in alt.human. Times when at least some of that arrogance seems justified.
One of the most magical moments for me is when that first box of books turns up. Often by then I’ll have seen a bound proof, or even a lone advance copy of my book, but it’s only when I get the box that I really believe that they’ve printed more than one copy: suddenly it’s a real book that people are going to sell and other people are going to read. Even after all these years, it’s a huge thrill. Suddenly, all that effort is validated: people believe in what I’ve been doing – they’ve invested their time and money in it.
For a moment, then, I say Pah to all the insecurity. I’m a writer. A real writer, with real books. Look at them: a box full of the things. This is what I do.
Note: If this box of books had contained the US edition, it would have been a box full of Harmony, not alt.human. For a variety of reasons, the book will have different titles in the US and UK, but for the record, Harmony is alt.human and alt.human is Harmony. Oh, and it/they is/are out in June, and available for pre-order at Amazon and other booksellers.