Shakespeare must have had carpal tunnel

When writing the first draft of my first manuscript, I had no idea of just how many revisions there would be, or how much editing, researching, rewrites, more editing and more revisions would be needed before I could ever call it a ‘book’. But all of these steps, plus so much more, were necessary in taking my rough manuscript and turning into a story, a book that a reader can actually enjoy. Sometimes this process can take years.

In my case it has been close to twenty, and it has all been done on a computer.

Before the typewriter all of the great writers in history and all of their stories and plays that were written were done so by hand, and many with ink and quill! There was no ‘backspace’ or ‘delete’ keys when a writer didn’t like what was written on the page. There was no ‘white-out’ when the pen slipped and something unintended was written. The writer had to start that page over. Before the modern printing press and typewriter had been invented, every manuscript, every play, every sonnet and every story ever written was done so by hand.

Talk about writer’s cramp!

I’ve lost count on how many times I have gone back and forth with my editors and the revisions that had to be done. Then there’s the final review from my proof-readers and ARC readers who hopefully will catch all those pesky typos that seem to slip by undetected, that is until the book is actually out and printed, and then it’s like – “What the…? How did I miss that?”

Yeah, for a perfectionist, those typos that slip by feel like sand in my underwear. Annoying, somewhat painful, and rubbing me in all the wrong ways!

Even though it’s the journey and the process of becoming a published author, it’s not always a pleasant trip. This adventure has been full of pot-holes, road blocks and rejection signs, and a lot of signs that look like this:

I guess it all comes down to how much I really want to reach that goal. How much work and effort am I willing to put forth? How many rejections am I willing to take? How many times do I have to rewrite and revise so I can have my story out in the big wide world?

And the most poignant question that I’ve been asking myself lately is:

 IS IT ALL WORTH IT?

I just published and released the third book in my fantasy series. Now, forgive me, but I’m going to reread that line again, and this time, I’m going to let it really sink in. Why? Because long before I ever saw any of these books of the MARK OF THE FAERIE series published, I did the years of writing, rewrites, edits and revisions. I attended workshops and conferences, pitched to agents, only to receive ego-crushing rejections or ignored altogether. I’ve spent sleepless nights over having to learn social media marketing, and how to create an author platform and brand. I even broke-out in hives more than once over obstacles in my path that I had no control over. Seriously. I know – I’m ridiculous. Now add the ongoing daily agony of pushing book sales, and…Egads! Someone stop the marry-go-round and let me off!

It’s not easy trying to live up to a perfectionist’s expectation. It’s kind of like living with three different people all taking up residence in the same small space, and one of them is incessantly reminding me of what a failure I am. Who needs to read bad reviews when my worse critic lives inside my head?

There’s a great movie that came out in 2000 starring Jim Carrey and Rene Zellweger titled; ‘Me, Myself and Irene. If you haven’t seen it, you owe it to yourself to do so. It’s a belly-laugh, slap-stick kind of comedy that, in my opinion, is at classic levels of the greatest movies ever made. Jim Carrey superbly plays the role of a man who has a split personality. Charlie Baileygates wouldn’t hurt a fly, but Hank Baileygates, well, he makes Charlie’s life interesting, to say the least.

Because writing is a solidary endeavor, most of the time it is just Me, Myself and Irene, and I too, like Jim Carrey’s character, can be at constant odds with myself. Though I haven’t thrown myself down in the middle of the street to wrestle a cow, (that will make more sense once you watch the movie! 😊), I have been known to hide in my closet hugging a teddy bear with the lights out while I attempt to soothe the fears of my inner child. That poor, young innocent soul has just been served up a pile of negative bile from bitchy Patti—AKA—my Hank Baileygates. It’s not a pleasant sight, and even worse to be a part of, but as creative souls, we all experience the torture of self-judgment. For me, the measure of real progress is in how I find the ability to keep going forward while I’m learning how not to fall apart. And it’s the level-headed, business minded Patti that’s trying to keep the peace between the snot-nosed child hiding in the closet and the snake-like tongue of Hank Baileygates.

Again, it comes back to; is it all worth it?

Did Shakespeare pose this question to himself? Did he have to deal with a Hank Baileygates? Most of his plays weren’t even published until after his death. Was one of the greatest playwrights of our time haunted with self-doubt? Something tells me yes, yes he was. Just like every creative soul before and after, we wonder why we feel the need for this self-persecution. Why do we need to create? Why did Shakespeare feel the need to write all those sonnets, plays and poems knowing that they most likely would never be read in his lifetime?

Because we’re storytellers, and storytellers have to write or we’ll explode. Don’t get me wrong here. I’m not putting myself anywhere close to even being mentioned in the same breath as William Shakespeare. I’m just saying, that as a writer, sometimes it really doesn’t matter who reads it. We just have to write. Regardless of our nay-sayers or even if it give us carpal tunnel.

My Hank Baileygates will constantly challenge me at every turn as he pushes me toward my goal. He keeps an eye on reality, keeps me humble, all the while he’s taking me on the most insane roller-coaster ride of my life.

So I guess the answer to my question is; Yes, it is all worth it. And since I’m not ready for this ride to be over yet, I think I’ll take a cue from Hank’s metaphoric playbook and go wrestle a cow! 😊

 

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