Friday, January 13, 2012
ALL 'LIT' UP AUTHOR ESSAY FEATURE: MYFANWY COLLINS - Will It?
Myfanwy Collins lives on the North Shore of Massachusetts with her husband and son. Her work has been published in The Kenyon Review, AGNI, Cream City Review, SmokeLong Quarterly, Quick Fiction, PANK, Caketrain, FRiGG,Potomac Review and other venues. Her novel, ECHOLOCATION, will debut in March 2012. A collection of her short fiction, I AM HOLDING YOUR HAND, is also forthcoming from PANK Little Books in August 2012. Please visit her author site for more info: http://www.myfanwycollins.com
by Myfanwy Collins
I had spent so many years--20 or more--wondering how I would feel when I got the news that someone was going to publish my first novel that how I actually felt came as a great surprise to me when I did get the good news. On top of feeling elated, validated, grateful, and triumphant, I also felt completely and utterly terrified. Someone had finally said yes to me and my biggest fear was letting them and my long supportive friends and family down. The question turned from “Would anyone ever publish one of my novels?” to “What if everyone who reads my novel hates it and thinks I’m a deviant, horrible wretch of a talentless hack of a human being?”
I had not expected to feel this way, honestly. Not because I think I’m some superstar, but because I’ve been around the block and have been lucky enough to have work published in some wonderful publications. Frankly, I thought I had gotten over my fear of being exposed by my written word.
Sure, there is still a twinge of fear whenever something new of mine is published, particularly when it is published online as then anyone can read it. Mostly, though, I’ve been able to let that fear go. I recognize where it comes from--a fear of being judged by people who know me in my “real” life. Once I recognize it, I can squash it. I’ve even let go the stage fright which came over me and crushed me for years after I read my mother’s eulogy ten years ago. Once I recognized where the fear was coming from, I was able to let it go and once again enjoy being up in front of an audience.
But this book fear is new and unexpected and, frankly, ridiculous and frustrating. I’m beyond excited about my book and so very proud of it. There is nothing to fear. Indeed, a brilliant editor has said yes to my novel and asked to publish it. She loved reading my book. She stayed up all night reading it. She believes in it enough to put her name and her company behind it.
So why the fear?
Let’s dismantle it. Let’s pick away at it. Partly it is the worry of being judged by others; that they will feel I’ve wasted my time by writing the book or their time by them reading it. I fear that something in my book will cause someone to treat my son differently. I fear that no one will buy it or that people will buy it out of pity or that if they do buy it, no one will read it.
Worst of all, I fear that no one will care.
Ah ha. Is that it, then? What if no one cares? So what if no one cares, right? Right?
I mean, if all the years of work and the hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of rejections I’ve received over the years have not broken me, a lack of caring will not break me.