I have changed the layout of this website three times in the last two weeks.
Is this because I’m never satisfied? No. Well, yes. But it’s also because starting a new thing is scary, especially a thing that people are going to see, read, and (oh God) judge.
The crazy thing (I admit it) is that I’m not new to blogging, or social media, or whatever. I’ve just not done it under my own name before, but rather for and about other people. But starting is harder this time because I know about “branding” and traffic and SEO and my book coming out next year, which I’d kind of like to be a success. So this blog…it’s like the first page of a novel, a job interview, and a blind date all in one.
Sorry. Had to step away and breathe into a paper bag for a minute.
Okay. Let’s break this down. Because I know I’m not the only one who has had to just suck it up and start something.
- I’ve been on a job interview or two. And I’ve been employed, so let’s count that as a success. And the ones that weren’t didn’t affect the success of the others.
- I’ve written the first page of a novel. I’ve written a lot of first pages of a lot of novels. I have written a lot less last pages, and I have written a lot more bad first pages than good ones. I’m still writing. And, oh yeah, I sold a book so at least one first page must have not sucked.
- I’ve been on blind dates and… Okay, let’s skip this one.
- I’m not much of an extemporaneous speaker at all. Which is frustrating, because I have all these brilliant thoughts, but they all happen at once and require a lot of revision before they’re ready for public consumption.
Right. So, doing something badly has yet to kill me, no matter how it feels at the time. Or weeks afterward.
Moving on to the other things that are hard.
- I worry that I’ll do things wrong and look like a noob.
- What if, when the book comes out, I’m, like, crazy famous and all the haters and trolls jump on?
- Worse, what if the Internet ignores me?
- Dang. I really worry way too much about what other people think.
Obsessing about getting things right—beyond the reasonable, I mean—isn’t going to please all the people all the time. It becomes a kind of procrastination, really.
Angsting over all the things I can’t control is another way of putting off the inevitable crap that’s going to happen. If you’re in business, you worry about what the economy is going to do, or about the Starbucks that opens two blocks down from your indie coffee shop, or whether everyone is going to hit their threshold tolerance for zombies and detectives a month before the release of your mystery novel The Body in the Library Got Back Up Again.
I have this friend, A. Lee Martinez (#namedrop) who says (a lot, because I/we/all writers have to hear it a lot) all you can control is your work.
That’s what I’ve come around to it this post. Put your best effort forward, then even if you fail spectacularly or simply fizzle, if the haters hate or your middle school cousin has more followers on Twitter than you do, you may be embarrassed, but at least you don’t have to be apologetic.
Hey. That’s not half bad. I hope someone actually reads this.