If you were only going to publish one book in your life and you had to choose between publishing a book and publishing the book, which would you choose?
What’s the difference between “a” and “the,” you ask? Mediocrity versus quality. Resentment versus passion. A checkmark on a list versus a dream come true.
I think some writers—myself included—can get so intoxicated from the idea of having their hard work displayed on a shelf that they lose sight of the fact that printing doesn’t make a book its best.
I don’t want to self-publish a book. I want to self-publish the book. Because that might be the only book I ever publish—and I want it to shine. And what I have come to realize over the last four months is that Scars is not the book.
I wanted it to be—you have no idea how badly I wanted it to be. And I think someday it can still be. I really did fight for it. But if I’m being honest with myself, it’s not the one. Not today.
I know what you’re thinking of me because I guarantee I’ve already thought it about myself. I’m a quitter because it got hard. And it did get hard. The task of revising and editing became a chore I hated. What was first a passion for the story itself became resentment because I wanted it done so I could move on to the next project. When I realized what had become of my goals, I also realized I had lost sight of what was important. The story is what is important, not seeing it in print or on Amazon.com. I’ve never been in writing to make money, so why would rushing a book to print without ensuring it’s my best work make sense?
I think I had already subconsciously surrendered to the realization that self-publishing wouldn’t happen with Scars before I admitted it to myself out loud. I spent less and less time working on it because it frustrated me. The deeper I dug into it, the more I realized the story is too one-dimensional. I never took the time to develop my characters. There are hard questions I need to answer, and these are not things I feel like I can address in the next four months. I was quickly becoming agitated with my labor of love, and that’s not fair. It deserves better than that.
Last weekend, I read an article by K.M. Weiland posted on Pinterest called “3 Signs You Should Give up on Your Story.” The article explained that if you are losing focus, lacking passion, or feel it in your gut that you should stop, you should stop. I waved my white flag. Message received.
I met all three criteria from the article, particularly the gut part. My gut was screaming at me that pursuing Scars wasn’t right. Don’t force it. Don’t overthink it. Don’t do it if it’s not fun anymore. You’re losing time with your husband and adding stress to your life when you know this story is not the one.
And that’s when I realized that Scars and I needed to take a break.
My friends will be disappointed, I know. And I carry that guilt. I also carry the shame of announcing to the world that I was going to accomplish this, and here I am, seemingly giving up. Do I regret making my decision to self-publish public? A little. This is what I feared from the beginning: failure. But I don’t regret this journey. Tearing Scars apart has raised some important questions about plots, subplots, character development, and point of view. Point of view was a major problem in Scars, and I want to get this right for #Maryn, the next project.
The more we learn, the more our goals change. It’s a mark that we’re growing as individuals and as writers. I’m going to cling to that and try not to feel too bad about putting Scars on the back burner. And I’m going to focus on #Maryn because, you guys, this story…. I’m so excited that I don’t have to wait to get started on #Maryn.
And for the record, to say I didn’t get this far to only get this far has a totally new meaning now. I haven’t quit. It’s all part of the long journey.