So…you’ve quit your job to write full-time. Your first book is done. A rough draft of the second book is with your editor. What do you do with a couple of months “break”? Take a vacation? Enjoy your free time? Are you freakin’ kidding me? This is your new career! You want to do EVERYTHING you can to make it work.
You try to master all of the social networking stuff you’re supposed to be doing. You take care of all sorts of boring tax and incorporating issues. You use NaNoWriMo to write 50,000 words of a new story that’s been brewing “up top” for a while. You meet the challenge, but after 30-days of intensive writing, you need a break from the manuscript.
So you launch upon a new project on your personal “to do” list. You begin studying your colleagues. You’ve been stalking a few of them since your editor suggested it. But now you choose a dozen or so and look at their websites, their schedules, their social networking, their touring, their swag, their products, their marketing, and their bios.
And you get TOTALLY INTIMIDATED. How can someone handle 3 series (that’s 3 books per year) AND Tweet every fifteen minutes? Not just “I’m brushing my teeth now”, but something really witty. How can someone whose first book is due out at the same time as yours already have a thousand Twitter followers? And holy cow, this one not only looks like a beauty queen, but she has a law degree! And next June you’re going to be sitting next to her signing books.
Plus, they all know each other and send each other funny personal Tweets all the time. You wonder if you’re supposed to be getting in touch with the other writers on your imprint. But if you did, maybe they would think, “Who does she think she is?” Or, on the other hand, and even worse, maybe they think you haven’t contacted them because you’re stand-offish…that is, if they have actually heard of you.
You Tweet one. She’s not only heard of you, but she has your book. “Oh my God,” you think. “I am on their radar.” It also means your editor has sent advance reader copies of your book to other writers to get blurbs for your book cover. Fear grips your heart as you realize that you’re in the most intimidating of situations: being judged by your peers.
And all of a sudden, you don’t only feel like you’re back in high school. No, this feeling predates high school by at least a decade. We’re talking elementary school. On the playground. In a game of double-dutch jump rope. You’re on the outside, swaying back and forth and trying to figure out the pace before jumping in and skipping to the beat.
The problem is, you’ve never had a very good sense of rhythm. You’ve always felt a bit awkward, especially since you seem to live half the time on another planet, far far away inside your imagination. But, you tell yourself, this is not a time to falter. It’s time to pull up your knee-socks and start jumping as if your life depended on it. And you try to convince yourself that—even if you fall—a skinned elbow isn’t the end of the world.