How do you work through self-doubts and fear?
I think almost every author goes through times when they feel like they’re the best writer since Tolkien, and others where they feel like talentless losers. When those lows hit me, I fall back to my incredible support network of friends and family. They’re great for cheering me on, showing me where I’m doing well, and pitching in to help me improve.
You would think that the day The Wings of Dragons hit shelves would have been the happiest of my life, but I was actually terrified. Up to that point, I only had the word of few close friends that they thought it was good. What if people thought it was terrible? I had never put myself out there like that before. I tend to be introverted, and the exposure made me really uncomfortable. In the end it worked out and people enjoyed it, but I’m sure that paranoia will come back when it comes time to release book two.
I love hearing from fans that my book has made a positive difference in their lives. You work so hard for so long on a novel, put your heart and soul into it, but you always wonder if readers get out of it what you put into it. When you hear that they really enjoyed it, that they encouraged their friends to read it, that it was something that spoke to them or resonated with them, then you know you’ve done your job as an author.
When I decide to do something, I go for it all the way. I love the quote from the TV show Mythbusters that goes, “If it’s worth doing, it’s worth overdoing.” That’s me in a nutshell. I don’t do things halfway. I put everything I have into a project, and I think that mindset shows not only in just getting a finished product out there, but having it be something that others will enjoy and share.
I’ve always been introverted, so publishing and marketing The Wings of Dragons has really forced me to come out of my shell. Suddenly I’m communicating with folks I never thought I would meet and interacting with readers from all over the world. When you write a novel, it’s just for you. When you publish a novel, though, it’s for the readers. You’re baring your soul for the world to see, and that visibility is still something I’m coming to grips with.
Because I love to tell stories! I grew up in a family where storytelling was part of everyday life. In particular, my father lived for stories. We would be having a conversation, and all of a sudden he would say, “That reminds me of a story.” We would all groan, but that was just part of the tradition. He would launch into his story, and at the end we’d all laugh because it was funny even though we’d heard it a hundred times. If you’ve ever seen the movie Lincolnand the way that Lincoln is always using stories to get his point across, you have a sense of how my dad was. With writing, I’m telling stories just like he did, only now I can share those stories with a lot more people.
I’ve always enjoyed telling stories, whether in written form, around the living room, or around the campfire (especially around the campfire). I grew up in a family where everyone told stories, some real, others made up. My father and his father were famous for it. They were both Lutheran pastors, and they made stories key parts of their sermons. They passed on that love of stories to me.
I have a lot of strange ideas, and I tend to take perspectives that a lot of people don’t have. Sharing those thoughts is a big motivation for my writing. I want to help people see the world in a different way. I want to communicate with others and share my passions. I’ve always been amazed at the ability of a good writer or filmmaker to reach out to an audience they’ve never met and make them laugh, cry, or scream at all the right moments. I want to be able to do that with my writing.
No question, the piece I’m most proud of is my debut novel, The Wings of Dragons(http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00FKJKJCA) published by Arboreal Press. I started forming the ideas for it over a decade ago, and its release marks the achievement of a lifelong dream for me to publish a book. I put over two years of sweat, toil, and (I’m not ashamed to admit) tears into that book, and all of that hard work has paid off.
It has nothing to do with my fiction writing, but I’m proud to have earned a Master’s degree in natural resource management from the State University of New York. Much like writing a novel, graduate school for me was a two-year process with a massive research project and an equally massive thesis. Looking back, I still can’t believe I crammed everything I did in grad school into two years. All that work helped when I wrote The Wings of Dragons. It wasn’t necessarily the subject matter, although I use my knowledge of the environment to make my settings more believable. Rather, it’s the skills I learned in how to plan out big projects, to take them one step at a time and to stick with them even when they seem impossible.