By Kay Springsteen
I am probably the most shy and insecure person I know. Introduce me to new people and my mind ceases to function. I get palpitations and sweaty palms when I have to make a simple phone call to pay a bill. And on the occasions I’ve given speeches for work, church, or school? I’ve been told I “knocked ‘em dead,” but frankly all I hear at such times is the quaver in my voice as an ocean of eyes turns in my direction.
“Okay, here it is, your choice... it's simple, her or me, and I'm sure she is really great. But Derek, I love you, in a really, really big, pretend to like your taste in music, let you eat the last piece of cheesecake, hold a radio over my head outside your window, unfortunate way that makes me hate you, love you. So pick me, choose me, love me.” ~Dr. Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo)
If you’ve watched even a handful of Grey’s Anatomy episodes, you’ve undoubtedly realized that Meredith Grey is full of issues that are based in an underlying insecurity. Yet somehow, when push comes to shove, she manages to diagnose illnesses, perform surgeries, and juggle a roiling personal life that would break most people.
As an author I feel much the same way. I toil over the stories, fret about characterization, build dialogue with the worry that it’s trite and inane or worse, unrealistic. And when it’s finished and gone through about a gazillion edits, and my publisher deeps it ready to leave the nest and enter the world…I agonize some more. Will people choose my book? What if they do and they don’t like it? What if it’s soooo bad they never want to read another novel I write?
Well, in truth I know some people will feel that way regardless. Not everyone will be automatically attracted to the cover, the title, the blurb, my name. And I can temper my angst with the understanding that not everyone who reads my books will find them their proverbial cup of tea. And while it’s hard, I have been able to avoid the embarrassment of cornering potential readers and pleading for them to pick my book, like Meredith did with Derek.
It hasn’t been easy. And even with several fairly well-received books under my belt, each new book brings on the same mad bouts of nervousness. But I’ve come to terms with this process, embraced it, in fact. It’s kind of become my personal trial of fire—the bed of hot coals I must cross that will get me from the story in my head to the story in book form and floating around the reading world.
Hopefully, readers will consider all my self-torture through worry worth it when they read my novels. But just in case, “…pick me, choose me…”