This morning I opened the Goodreads page for the first ARC reviews of 'When Sorrows Come' which have just started to come in. It's always an incredibly scary moment, no matter how many books down, no matter how many previous good experiences, no matter how much you know in your soul, your head and your bones that the story is good - it's damned good because it came from a place of truth, of integrity, of experience.
Whenever I go onto Goodreads, I literally have to dare myself to do it, and when I click that dashboard button, it's almost as if my stomach sees those little red stars before my head. It was with the greatest relief and soul-soaring delight that there were no 1 stars or 2 stars ---- note that is how I work. I check off the low stars before the high stars; it's text book isn't it? That self doubt, that fear that you've f-ed it up. That you've made an ass of yourself. That you're just not good enough. (Sorry to you newbies who are hoping those feelings are going to go away, they might not)
And when I had scanned from the bottom up, going past the empty 1 star, the empty 2 bar and the empty 3 star I began to relax. It's okay - it's all going to be okay.
I always have these feelings, but they've been quadrillioned for 'When Sorrows Come' for a couple of reasons. 1) Its' COMPLETELY different genre for me. It's contemporary YA - I guess it would be labelled for ease as Contemporary Romance. 2) It slays many personal demons. It's the story I had to write - and if it hadn't been for the freedom and challenge of NaNoWriMo I wouldn't - the internal editors would have destroyed it.
I was worried readers would find some elements too far fetched, even though there are so many personal first hand experiences woven through the scenes and characters. I was worried readers would find it too heavy; it deals with mental health, death, love, obsession, self-harm, substance abuse --- yep, all in one story, but as one reviewer said, "these things all feed off one another" - and yes, yes they do.
So, I guess the point of this rambling post is
DON'T BE AFRAID
TRUST YOUR STORY.
TRUST YOUR READER.
But at the same time, if you are afraid, if you are in doubt, if there is a worry you've failed your reader, then USE those demons to make it the best story your heart can write. Your readers will see the truth, they will see the authenticity, they will share with you and cry with you, and that's what this is all about - those deeply, intimate human connections between reader and writer.
You can pre-order your copy of 'When Sorrows Come'