I dreamed a few nights ago that the first three Amazon reviews of A Gift of Time were all one-star reviews, written by the same person. She hated the book so much that giving it one star wasn’t enough, she had to rate it again and again, one star every time, and then show up at my house to tell me everything that was wrong with it. It was a weird dream. Definitely a nightmare. And in the dream, I decided to quit writing. That was the moment that woke me up.
The good news: I’m not going to quit writing. It really annoyed me that in my dream I’d decided to do so. For the next ten minutes, I was huffing and puffing at my dream self. What a wimp! What an idiot! You don’t give up something fun just because someone else comes to rain on your parade. You are a nerd, in the wonderful Wil Wheaton sense of the word, where you get to love what you love and damn the naysayers. Yes, I was lecturing myself. My dream self even. I sort of feel embarrassed.
But it sent me into a good spiral of thinking about writing and about what the last two years have meant to me.
Unless you’re a writer, you won’t care about this, but there are crowd scenes in A Gift of Time. Scenes where five characters or more are present and active. The first book I wrote (the one that no one has ever seen) had a scene with six characters and it was agonizing to write. So hard to manage all those characters. So hard to balance them. So hard to keep them all in the room, all active, all talking. In Ghosts, I can remember ruthlessly cutting characters out of scenes because I couldn’t handle having a fourth person present. That was too hard to make work. In Time, there are crowds. Literal crowds. Rose, Max, Meredith, Grace, Akira, Colin, Carla, Travis, and Emma–plus a bunch of nameless others–all in one room at one time–and I never even thought about it being hard to write.
With Thought, I decided I needed to learn to write action scenes. I love Ghosts, of course, but it’s all conversation. It could be a stage play if it needed to be. Hmm, actually, it would make sort of a great play–the actress who got to play Akira when she turned into Zane’s mom would have so much fun. So in Thought, there’s action, and it was hard work. Oh, the research that went into that parking lot scene. The careful mapping out of character’s motions. The reading about self-defense, the calculating of weights, the plotting out of positions. In Time, I just wrote the fight. I didn’t agonize over it at all. I did do some fun research–the whole Golgi organ reflex thing was super-cool–but the writing was just a map; grab here, push there.
In a sense, two years of writing have gotten me nothing. Time has sold about as many copies in its first week as Ghosts did, and I’m no more likely to earn a living by writing than I was two years ago.
But I’m pretty sure I’m a better writer than I was two years ago. And that’s something. And I’m absolutely sure that I’m not going to quit writing, no matter how many 1-star reviews Time gets. And that’s a lot.
Onward and upward–I’m going to finish writing Reckless, my last unfinished Eureka story, then turn my attention to Ghosts of Belize and Akira’s honeymoon. Probably around Feb, I’ll start my next project. It will either be Grace’s story or something entirely new–either a crystal-sensitive mermaid or a sarcastic, Sherlock-inspired princess.
If you haven’t reviewed Time… nag, nag, nag. Reviews matter. And I hate writing them, too, so I sympathize. But if you’re reading this and you’ve read Time, there is literally no better way to support me than to write a review for Amazon or Goodreads.
As always, my brain sidetracks on literally. You could just give me lots of money. That would be a better way to support me. Or you could pay off my mortgage, so that I didn’t have to worry about it–that would help. Or you could tell all your friends or buy an ad or get your local librarian excited about my books–OKAY, so maybe there might *literally* be some other ways to support me. But writing a review is by far the easiest.