So I’ve been signed to a three book deal. Now how does it feel?

This is a common question that I’ve gotten and the honest answer is that I’m excited and terrified. Of course there’s the requisite celebration, after all, it’s a three book deal. To date, I’ve written five novels. After years of struggling to sell one novel, I’ve finally sold one plus two I haven’t written yet. Fifth times a charm.

And it’s terrifying. This is it. This is the dream I’ve been working toward. What I’ve sacrificed for. What I’ve thought about and through for so long. I’ve often said that it takes ten years to become an overnight success and that getting published is 90% persistence. During that time you are preparing yourself for the eventual opportunity. Honing your craft. Disciplining yourself. Broadening your contacts. Developing your professionalism. Learning to meet deadlines. All the while, you remain open to opportunities that come along. And when that opportunity comes along, it can be frightening.

This is a variation of the fear of success that many of us suffer from. Generally speaking, every stage of your writing career is filled with fear. Fear of the blank page and beginning to write. Fear of finishing, after all, writers finish things. Fear of editing and being critiqued (our stories are our children and we don’t want anyone to hurt our precious). Fear of submitting (eventually we have to send our children, hopefully prepared or at least fully edited, out into the world).

Now I have deadlines, that feeling of writing under the gun. Of feeling rushed (yet, ironically, realizing at the same time knowing I’m doing and writing exactly the same way I’ve been writing, except more focused and disciplined). I have 18 months to write 300K words. That’s a lot of words. That’s also no way to think of the project, but the part of you that nurtures that nervous ball in the pit of your belly rolls that fact around in your head. Part of you begins to second guess and doubt yourself.

Because you don’t want to fail. The fear creeps back in, reminding you that this is your big chance, that this is what you’ve dreamed of. To not blow it. Nor do you want to let down the writing, the craft, itself. Nor your readers, neither the ones you’ve accumulated up to this point or the new ones you hope to gain with each new project . There there are your publisher and other folks who’ve believed in you or gambled on you with the opportunity (understanding that when all is said and done, this a business).

And I know for me, I don’t want to disappoint my wife. She’s sacrificed and believed in me and I want to show her that it was worth it even though I know she doesn’t care how “big” I get as long as I’m using my gifts and talents.

And yes, I want to succeed. I’m not imagining that I’ll be the next King of Rowling (no more than we all dream of that kind of success). But even the idea of success fills me with the kind of dread that has me reaching for the covers to crawl under and hide for a while.

So you stare down the mocking blank page.

And you remember to take it one word, one paragraph, one scene at a time. If nothing else mindful of the sacrifices, the hard work; knowing that you want this and that you’ve got this. Letting the looming deadline (and in my case, the voice of a lady at my church who read the first novel and is demanding that I finish the second so that she can read the next part) help you conquer your fear.

Never let them see you sweat. And you start to write.*

*Right after you’re done procrastinating by blogging.