I finished writing Gracie’s Revolution in October 2015. The manuscript was edited thirteen months ago, and yet, I didn’t publish it until this past weekend.
What took so long?
There were some good reasons for the delay. My beta readers suggested some changes in the manuscript. I had a lot of marketing tasks I needed to finish before publishing. And the cover design went through several iterations. Those were all fine excuses to put off publishing. But, also, a personal tragedy in May knocked me off my feet for a long time. And another good month of the delay was due to a nasty case of acute bronchitis that kept me unable to work.
But too much of it was because I started doubting myself.
Self-doubt, I believe, is a good thing in moderation. It can encourage humility, which in turn is a catalyst for empathy and compassion. I can think of many men in Congress and the incoming administration who could use some of that.
And coupled with realistic expectations, a little bit of self-doubt can keep you striving to do better, while not setting your goals out of reach. I don’t need to reach the New York Times Bestseller list; I just need to make enough money to pay for the $15 iStock photo I bought to put on the cover!
But self-doubt also leads to inertia, procrastination, and immobility. At times last year, that’s where I was: unable to talk myself out of self-loathing and lethargy.
I came out of it by the end of December when I decided I still had something I wanted to say through my writing, and that is: rural America doesn’t have to be a sinkhole of self-pity and hatred. There are good people all over Iowa and other rural states who could take their communities back from cynics and the sanctimonious bigots that sit around café tables and call themselves a “Table of Knowledge.” Many of them are women. They are smart people who still read books, read newspapers, and aren’t brainwashed by the “journalists” on Fox News.
They want their towns to be diverse and vibrant and to integrate their communities into a changing world, not retreat from it.
My bout with self-doubt and inertia happened before the election. It continued through the fall when I started looking at how well my other books have sold. In a word, poorly. Why, I asked myself, was I spending eight hours a day, seven hours a week at my computer, designing covers, formatting books, and writing, writing, writing, rewriting and rewriting, all to provide reading material for a few dozen people and losing money at it?
The answer seemed obvious: I had a totally unrealistic idea of what I could do. I began to believe I couldn’t write, I couldn’t tell stories, I couldn’t produce books that people wanted to read, but I had kept doing it anyway.
Two things helped me get over the fear of moving forward and finally publishing Gracie: one, some tremendously positive comments from my beta readers, and two, a realization that no one else was writing the stories I was imagining. Maybe Gracie’s Revolution, Jackie’s Campaign, and Marcia’s Choice won’t sell either. But until I find another way to express my hope for this country and its rural areas, I will keep writing.
I’m still not out of the woods. I continue to struggle with a fear of the keyboard that I’ve never had before in my life. But I’m working on it.
Meanwhile, if you’re interested in checking it out, you can find Gracie’s Revolution at http://tinyurl.com/zur3n8a.