Thursday, February 7, 2013

What If This Is the Best I'm Ever Going To Do?

I'm about to start writing a new manuscript. I've been "about" to start it for the last three weeks. I have the basic premise, the hero and the heroine and a vague idea of where the story is going to go. Which, being that I write by the seat of my pants, is pretty much all I have when I start a new project.

However, this time I find myself struck with what I can only describe as the writer's version of stage fright. Screen fright? With my first manuscript I did it just to see if I could. With my second I had a great idea that just had a magic kind of feel to it from the beginning. And so here we are at number three and the blank page sits, waiting.

What happened? Number two happened.

You see number two did turn out to have a bit of magic about it. It finaled in its first contest - even though I wrote those first fifteen pages sleep deprived with a new baby and entered it at the last moment with almost no revisions. When I pitched it at a writer's conference six agents wanted to see it. SIX! One agent even came and found me and asked me to pitch to them after hearing about it from someone else. It was the story that my agent signed me for. Editors wanted to see it. I Skyped with my agent yesterday and he was telling me how he'd pitched it to one editor and she remembered the project and me and I didn't know how to tell him that I have never met her.

And so I sit at the screen and yes, I admit it, I am intimidated by my last project. What if that was it? What if I've written the best story I have in me? What if I somehow stumbled upon some magical never-to-be-repeated combination of a great premise and leading characters? What if no story is ever going to be as good as that one?

And here's the crazy thing. I love my next story. I love my heroine Anna and my hero Mac. I love that it's set in Texas. I love that they are going to clash so badly, I'm not even sure how I'm going to be able to get them past their differences. I even love Anna's snooty control freak mother and long suffering father. It's going to be super fun to write... if only I could start getting some words on the page.

I know it's ridiculous. I mean most writers get better with every manuscript, not worse, right? But I would love any thoughts so anyone whose every had screen fright, or stage fright, or athletics fright or debating fright or whatever it might have been, please share your ideas!

Or, alternatively, we could chat about The Bachelor (go Team Desiree!) (it's for research, really).

Kara Isaac lives in Wellington, New Zealand where she writes romantic comedy. When she's not busy not writing, she loves chasing her toddler and making the most of a glorious summer. She has also just recently come out of denial and can now admit she is addicted to this season of The Bachelor.

You can also find her on Twitter @KaraIsaac or Facebook Kara Isaac - Writer


  1. Girl, you are so awesome!!! Oh how I laughed when I read your post... Fear to me, seems to be something that depends on the day. Somedays you are hiding in bed, other days you think you are awesome. Maybe it has something to do with chocolate? Just write the sucker. And if you fail, then stand atop the highest mountain and gloriously shout out: "I failed!!! Yay me!!!!" And then write another book....

  2. Ditto what Jenn said. Even authors with dozens of books to their names can tell you which was was "magic" and which ones were okay. Maybe number two was your best, but it doesn't mean number three won't be good.

  3. Thanks for the encouragement Jenn and Alice :) I hadn't thought of it that way - that suthors might have books they know were more magic than others!

  4. Some of my favourite authors have definately NOT gone in a gradually ascending line of progress. Several of them have written books, maybe no.4 or 6 or 9 which really sucked, and some were so bad I had to keep checking it was the same author...but in between the flops are some of my favourite stories, and the flops did not put me off reading their next output.
    I know this is from a reader's perspective, but you know what? Strength of character comes from falling down and getting up again, not from staying on your feet all the time. A horse-rider once said that no one can ride really well until they have mastered falling off a horse and getting back up. Its a good metafor I've found!
    Good luck with writing your next HORSE!!!!!

  5. Thanks Heckety! After I wrote this post I did suddnely start thinking of some authors that I've read who definitely have had more recent books that were obviously rushed, or not well edited, or just felt tired.

    So that's definitely a challenge to all of us in this business. Even when we are published it's so important not ever get complacent, arrogant or take readers' goodwill for granted. Especially when there are so many incredible authors out there who are getting better with each book.

  6. Hi Kara, I know the feeling. Hang in there and trust your instincts with your story :)

  7. Oh Kara, I hear you so, so, so much. I'm re-writing my second book's due in July...but I just finished edits on my first book and I kept thinking, what if I poured all my best into that first book? What if the first book was a fluke??

    But I'm thankful for wonderful writing friends who keep reminding me, God doesn't get us so far only to abandon us along the road. He was faithful to help us with our past he'll help us with the next one. :)

  8. My advice? Just start writing. Assume it won't be perfect, that you might be starting in the wrong place, that it will feel stilted until you get rolling (and possibly, occasionally, afterward, too).

    But for heavens' sake, girl, START! :D