Pushing the Panic Button

Stressed OutOkay, the ether is apparently wearing off from the news that two foreign publishers want to acquire the rights to my novel and one of them wants to contract for a sequel. Now that the dust has settled and the reality of it all has hit me upside the head, I’m feeling tremendous anxiety. At the risk of sounding arrogant, I know that I’m a pretty good writer and in the past I have been able to write four novels with few incidents of writer’s block. But this new challenge is a different animal. 

A foreign publisher is paying me to write a novel. And a very specific timeline is not only part of the contractual agreement, it is the ultimate contingency. This is not for fun or a hobby; it’s getting paid for performing. Not only do I have to deliver a polished manuscript, but it must also survive the careful scrutiny of the publisher’s editorial staff. Just writing this post is making me sweat. 

I’d feel much less angst if I didn’t have a day job. If I could awaken every morning, brew a pot of java and write while my brain was refreshed and my creative juices were flowing, I think I’d do just fine. But at the end of the day when my job has sucked every ounce of life from my brain, how do I sit in front of a computer and create words and sentences and paragraphs worth reading? And the weekends? Can I just ignore my wife and domestic activities, lock myself in a room and write? Not hardly. 

So, the only viable solution as I see it is to believe in my writing ability and the market potential for my novel, quit my job—actually retire from my job—and write full time. Here’s the caveat: when I put a pencil to it, I just don’t have enough money to comfortably retire. If my novel tanks and I don’t fulfill my contractual commitment to the foreign publisher for the sequel, my wife and I will be eating Campbell’s Tomato soup for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  Well, maybe only lunch and dinner; I don’t think we will be able to afford breakfast. 

Here’s the bottom line: do I believe in myself and my writing ability enough to take the plunge? Or will I be held hostage by my fear of failure? They say that God hates cowards, so maybe I just need to take a long hard look in the mirror and search my soul.

8 Comments

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8 responses to “Pushing the Panic Button

  1. Ken

    Can you take a sabbatical or Leave of Absence? Another suggestion…stop bathing, combing your hair, etc…start buying clothes that are one size too small for you from the thrift store…When you go to works smile unnecessarily and talk to imaginary elves in the lunch room. That should buy you 30 days of mental leave (paid of course) and even some free services from your Employer Services Plan. After 30 days you come back to work in an adult diaper. That should get you another 6 months of FMLA…would that be enough time to get your novel done?🙂

  2. poolagirl

    You have what it takes, Daniel. Just breathe and do it. Come on!

  3. Jac

    Does your wife believe in you, support you, encourage you?? If the answers are a resounding, “yes,” then….to steal Nike’s tag line…..JUST DO IT! If she doesn’t, then…continue taking deep breathes & consider what Ken suggested.🙂

  4. I’d just like to add that you CAN do it! You already did it, and proved it to yourself that you can. So, you already know that you can. Your book just scared the crap out of me, so do it again… You’re a great writer! So happy to know you, and I’m sure that it’s all going to work out. You just do what you have to do to make ends meet, and you work hard. You can’t fail, if you’re will to work hard. That’s my experience. I also learned about 16 years ago, as you get older, you realize that you can do ANYTHING you put your mind, heart and body into, and you’ll do that. Rocky

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