My work isn't supposed to be perfect and neither is it intended to be the best book ever written. Sure, I worked hard at it, editing, re-writing endlessly and tweaking it here and there...but still, it is very definitely imperfect. So be it. I feel that I could probably do better if I started it again, today - and perhaps I could or perhaps I'm not merely dreaming or deluding myself - but Signs of (a) Life is out there now. The book is an expression of who I am - or rather, who I was during the period I took to write it. It's the best that I could manage, doing it entirely on my own (including the cover illustration) from the start, and with very, very little input from anyone else. I should feel pleased. It's not easy.
That regular visitor to my world, that niggling self-doubt has predictably appeared somewhere between my forehead and my occiput, and today, after waking from a night shift, I sat down to go through the usual social media ritual with a sudden surge of failure flooding through my consciousness. What if the book is actually crap? I've been receiving some feedback from friends, and it's all been positive so far - but they're my friends. Conversely, many people who promised faithfully to support my l;ittle dream and buy a copy have not actually done so - and they are friends, too. The downward spiral is so incredibly easy to step into and be disheartened by.
I know that if I want to sell any books, I have to get out there and try to actually do it - but I'm terrible at that kind of thing. To even be average at selling something, I have to believe in it, and right now I'm in completely the wrong mindset. Bugger. Also, time is an issue - I work a horribly random shift pattern (actually, calling it a 'pattern' is like saying that McDonalds run 'restaurants'), and devoting time to publicising or selling the book is very hard to plan for - and even harder to find the energy for. Today, for example, I'm simply knackered, and tomorrow I'll feel worse because I work a night shift, walk the dog when I get home before sleeping, then get up to go to work at three in the afternoon.
So, what's the answer for me? Like everyone else, what I ultimately crave is peace of mind. Peace of mind is at the heart of all my needs and wants - I want to feel content and happy, and nothing less. Perhaps, then, what I could do is change my perspective about this...perhaps I could alter my preferences around the project, while remembering that a few weeks is a very short time in the life of a book - a book which was written in the hope that it will out-live me and will survive in my family for a while to perpetuate memories and impressions of who I was. I could prefer it that my book was a financial success (parameters of my own choosing) without needing it to be one. That might work.
I need to remember that writing isn't who I am, dahling...I'm simply not an angst-ridden artiste who shall fade away (if I haven't swooned first) if I cannot write. Frankly, I can't empathize with that kind of self-obssessed bullshit. I write because I enjoy it, because if by chance or happy coincidence, I manage to reach out, grab some words and string together a few sentences which really work well, it excites me. I write because it's fun, and because I really do want to leave something of myself behind when I eventually shuffle off this mortal coil. Unlike so many people who seem to want to 'belong' to a group they call 'writers', I'm happy to be anonymous, to watch, to learn, and to hopefully hone and improve my writing so that it might become more readable for more people - and ultimately spread a little joy in some other lives. It's a thing; it's not everything.
To be happy, I need to accept what other people may call failure - after all, I didn't do this to make money, I did it because I wanted to, and because I inherited a very small amount of money which made it just about possible to stick my head over the parapet, even though I couldn't afford luxuries such as proof-readers or editors (all I could afford was an initial overview from an experienced editor - which by the way, was extraordinary). I've written and published a book on a shoestring. My son has read it and enjoyed it. So far everyone else who's read it has enjoyed it, too. Perhaps that should be enough - I always thought that it would be, but emotions tend to change, and foolishly, I began to hope for something a little more. The blunt truth is, I'm not good enough for that.
So: take a deep breath and get back to the keyboard, Liam; be happy with what you have, write not because you want to be the best writer ever (you never will be, you silly old fool), but because you have the opportunity to enjoy yourself doing it...
Writing for fun, writing for love, writing for the memories...I do very much hope that you will find enough of interset in my journey to allow you to stick with me and see what happens.