Khaled Hosseini said in an interview, “Good writing days flow with tempo and cadence, on the bad days I sit and bleed.” Letting go of self-doubt is a writer’s daily struggle, best seller list or no. Natalie Goldberg, in Writing Down The Bones says great writing is a moment passing through you. A moment the writer’s awake enough to capture. Even on my good writing hours, days or weeks, my personal investment in the words clings to me. The Esau Emergence, my first published book, released July of last year. I finished the final edit, cutting 8,000 words this April. The sequel, The Esau Convergence, will be done in December.
Declaring my status as a writer comes with ease. I’ve heard from terrific people who enjoyed the book and can’t wait for the next one. I’ve sold copies to folks on my book tour. Readings, signings, and workshops are planned without anxiety. I’ve had a couple of harsh reviews, a scathing one from a guy named Wurst. True story. I still make jokes about it. It’s the people I know best who present the obstacle. The physical act of handing over a book terrifies. I feel the urge to cling to it, hands locked in a vise grip. I sent copies to my extended family, but I don’t ask if they’ve read it. The most passionate of readers among them are busy. I imagine they tense up when the subject arises. I don’t think my family has read it. It’s the safest tack. They can’t hate it if they haven’t read it. Win win. Sometimes the question pops out. Recently, I was in L.A. for a family thing, my uncle asked how my writing was going. The words escaped me, “Great. Have you read it?”
“I’ve meant to get a copy,” he said.
We were trapped. I don’t know what possessed me, but I handed him one of the two copies I carry for such an event. People, usually, pay me for them, but hey, he’s my uncle.
Okay, I didn’t hand it to him. I tossed it. I may have, sort of, thrown it at him. In fairness, I did sign it. I realized later I had been throwing my book at almost everyone. Not random everyones, just folks I know. People who purchase a book from me can tell you, I didn’t hurl the book at their head. My colleague, Rich Keller, mentioned he was going to read my book. I tossed him a copy. My friends, Sarah and Chad, reminded me they didn’t have a copy. I slid it across the table. I’m sure there’s a scene in a movie with one character clinging desperately to a book while the other character pries it out. I’m avoiding a scene.
My id is circumventing my ego. I have no problem selling my book or talking about my writing career. I’m inspired to be living my dream with the support of wonderful people, readers and writers alike (Wurst is still on my list). The good reviews continue to increase. Chad, not a passionate reader, said, “I didn’t know what to expect. I thought it might be a romance or chick lit, but WHAM, I’m in a military assault in Afghanistan. I love it!” That’s high praise.
I’m not a Hemingway fan, but he beat Hosseini to the blood bank. “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” We not only bleed but offer our blood to others. How’s that for ghastly? I have more deeply personal stories waiting for their moment, but everything I write contains a glimpse into my spirit. It’s a gift of sorts, but there’s no receipt for returns.
I hope by the time I’m done with the third book in the Esau Continuum, I’ll be at peace with the process. I’ve counted. I have six single novels in the works. I’m a writer. Good thing I can’t pitch worth a darn. I’m happy to sell you a book, but promise to duck.
JC Lynne taught Literature and Language Arts for ten years. Her first novel, The Esau Emergence, was published July, 2013 by Ngano Press. The sequel, The Esau Convergence is coming soon. In addition to fiction, she writes creative non-fiction. Most recently, The Girl I Walk By, a short story, is available in Pooled Ink, 2013. She lives in northern Colorado with her husband, two teenage boys, her pups, and cats.