Hmm, well, not stage fright exactly, but something akin to it.
Imposter syndrome… yep, OK, it’s that. Here’s the thing. The road to writing, editing and publishing a book isn’t a straight line, no siree. It’s more of an all round the Wrekin* type of journey, with long, grinding inclines of painful slog, of false summits which turn out to be just the place you stop for a rest and break out the beef paste and HP sauce** sandwiches, ready salted crisps and a flask of hot, sweet tea. The downhill, free wheeling feet off the pedal moments are there, but you have to put the work in first.
Anywaaaaay… so here I am. I’ve put in a good chunk of editing this morning, checking and double checking consistency across several chapters and wondering what the hell I was thinking when I wrote this part of my novel a year ago. But I’ve battled through, I’ve sorted out the inconsistencies, I’ve changed the tone so it has the feel that I’m striving for. I feel good and have taken the fact that I’ve edited one of these chapters eight (yes EIGHT) times in the last few days as a badge of honour and perseverance. However, a tiny, whiny little voice keeps on nagging at me. She belongs to my absolute bitch of an alter-ego, who I’ve decided to name Constance (as she’s a constant pain the neck).
Essentially, she’s trying to tell me that my writing, the plot, the sub-plot, the jeopardy, the world that I’ve built is all a bit of a let-down. Compared to the hype I’ve created with the black and white noir-esque photos and the hints that I’ve been dropping over on Instagram, it’s a damp squib. Anti-Virus? More like Anti-Climax.
Yeah, thanks Constance. So. Very. Much. You are quite the bitch, aren’t you?
See, for all my joking, Constance is what we do to ourselves. That little voice is our fear, our hesitancy, our ‘you’re not good enough’ anti-mantra that swirls around inside everyone’s heads, to a greater or lesser degree, at some point in our lives (or all the time, if you’re really, really unlucky). That voice can be the life-saving note of caution (‘no, you won’t get across the road before the car hits you’) or it can be the destructive, soul-destroyer of your dreams.
My novel, once completed, might not live up to what I want it to be. There are no guarantees after all. On the other hand, it might surpass all my hopes and dreams. I’m putting the work in so that I have a better chance of achieving the latter. That’s all I can do.
As for the stage fright, it can go suck it. The show must go on, darlings, the show must go on.
*The Wrekin is a hill in East Shropshire, in the UK. All round the Wrekin – a phrase common in Shropshire, Worcestershire, Staffordshire, Herefordshire, the Black Country and Birmingham to mean “the long way round”. “To all friends around the Wrekin”, meanwhile, is a toast traditionally used in Shropshire, especially at Christmas and New Year. I am from Birmingham, hence the phrase is well-known to me!
**HP sauce is a brown sauce originally produced by HP Foods in the United Kingdom and was named after London’s Houses of Parliament. Created in 1899, HP Sauce has a tomato base, blended with malt vinegar and spirit vinegar, sugars, dates, cornflour, rye flour, salt, spices and tamarind. It is used as a condiment with hot and cold savoury food, and as an ingredient in soups and stews. For me, it wins hands down against tomato ketchup. And the beef paste sandwiches reference is a memory of childhood car journeys in the summer holidays!