For me, the toughest challenge about being a writer is the Jekyll and Hyde-ness of my days. In order to write, I have to shut out the world, close the drapes and withdraw into my thoughts. But then, to sell my book I need to engage with the world of potential readers through tweets, blogs, vlogs, posts and earnest conversation.
This is most certainly a first-world problem, but writing a novel is tough. So, when you submit that final draft, approve the cover, write the back cover blurb and hit send on the final details, you want to rest. But, don’t expect to rest if you want to sell any books.
Because books don’t sell themselves, do they? As an indie author, published by a hybrid publishing house, Booktrope, it is expected that we are not only willing, but excited about immersing into social media. Twitter. Facebook. Wattpad. Tumblr, Instagram, YouTube, to name a few. We have to find our future fans, connect with people that will connect with our writing. Also, we want to enhance the reader’s experience and find ways to connect them to our characters after they close the book.
Truth be told, we rely on the enthusiasm of strangers to bring our novel into the spotlight. We love our readers, and adore our bookclubs, and oh how we gush over our reviewers, the gems that took the time to read our novel and then post their opinion for all the world to see. You are worth every minute of squeamish discomfort I felt as I vlog, blog, post and tweet. I happily become Dr. Jekyll for you. Saucy, spicy, loud Dr. Jekyll.
Dr. Jekyll is the extroverted side of my days. She slaps duct tape over the mouth of our inner-governor and boasts about the novel, shares silly pictures, reposts someone else’s deep thoughts, toots the horn of other authors. She survives on gin and tonics, alternative music and doge memes. She’s cool. She’s relevant. And when she looks in the mirror, she smiles as she applies lipstick too thick and too bright across her lips. She laughs too loud.
And Dr. Jekyll has a heart filled with love. She loves her fellow indie authors. She loves her local libraries. She adores all independent bookstores and longs for the day the one down the block will call to set up that book signing. She covets the recognition of John Green and J.K. Rowling and Michael Connelly. But, she doesn’t hold their success against them. She just daydreams that she one day will walk among them. This is Dr. Jekyll, the extrovert on steroids. Being her exhausts me. But I like being her in small doses.
The writing side of my personality is Mr. Hyde, because that’s what I have to do to be an effective writer. Hide. It is a lonely, soundless life. If I want to get into the heads of my characters I need everything else to fall away. This means I can’t bear the company of people, or the sound of music, or a view out the window. Somehow the cats and dog make it through Hyde security. They nestle within reach, and when the words won’t come, I stroke their fur.
My long-time companion, Quincy the golden retriever, died as I was wrapping up the ending to Four Rubbings, I lost my bearings. Quincy’d been with me for the whole process, from dream to notebook to Word file. We walked the wet streets together, took in fresh air between chapters, and helped cleared my head. When Quincy died, I stopped caring about the finish line. I wasn’t supposed to reach it without him. But, thankfully, my heart healed, well mostly, and I finished the book.
But since the release of Four Rubbings, I’ve existed in the gray areas between Jekyll and Hyde. I committed to devoting six months to promote the novel before embarking on book two. I’ve nearly reached my self-imposed deadline and I’m worried that I won’t be able to wipe the lipstick off, shut out the world and write in the coming days. Worried and excited. Because, I crave time inside my own head to invent characters, fill in their details, set them in a situation and then watch them play out the story. I do miss writing.
So, after Four Rubbings goes on its blog tour the end of January, I’ll silence the cell phone, turn off the radio, shut the drapes and write. But, I want to tell you now that I will miss you. Though, I promise I’ll let Dr. Jekyll out of the cage every now and then to say hello.