I suffer from writing self-doubt. In fact, I just googled, ‘self-doubt’ to make sure I spelled it right, was using the right word and confirm that it is hyphenated.
At the moment, I’m not so sure that is post I should be writing or if anyone will like it.
But, bravely on!
I started this blog in April 2011 and soon will have been at this blogging thing for eight years. The original concept was to write a series of essays about Jesus’ actions during Easter week. I was going to write one a day and gave this blog the name, “Andrew’s View of the Week.” I didn’t finish those essays and never bothered to rename this blog. At one point I thought of doing a kind of weekly wrap up of my reactions to the news of the week.
But that felt a bit too whiny so I never did it.
Then there was this whole cancer thing that happened to me and my transformation into poet rather than a prose writer. I think I write the personal essay just fine, but have connected more with poetry than I ever thought possible. Part of me thinks that something in the radiation treatment rewired my brain – closed a few circuits and opened others.
During treatment I used this blog to write about what I was going through and then decided that the discipline of writing every week was good for my creativity and my goal of “being a writer.” I’m still not exactly sure what that means, and these days I’m more likely to introduce myself as a poet than a writer.
It does bother my boss when I go to a meeting at work and introduce myself as a poet instead of an engineer. The expectations of some people…
The first time I noticed a tendency towards poetry was when I thought it would be a good idea to write a book about my prostate cancer. I tried writing as prose – as personal, poignant essays, but instead of my normally good essay it all came out as poetry.
Actually some of it is good – note the near lack of self-doubt in that statement.
As I wrote about me, memories of my mother’s pancreatic cancer surfaced and my poems started including her. In the end I wrote a collection of poems about both experiences. It was a lot of work and consumed my writing for a time.
I had thought about publishing it, but – well that whole self-doubt thing: Is it good enough, will people like it, would anyone buy it?
Well, I did decide to push on and self-publish the book for family, friends and the few blog followers who might want to read it. My wife, Heather agreed to helped with it. She’s an accomplished visual artist (oils, water colors, fabric) and a retired graphic designer. Her career was in printing and production art. She agreed to do some work for my book, doing a few illustrations, the cover, laying out the book, and preparing the files needed for production.
At first I thought I’d just format the whole thing for publication through Amazon. You can learn how to do that, but it takes time and can be confusing on what to do. Between work and not wanted to give up time to write new stuff, I never made much progress with that.
Instead going direct to Amazon, I’ve decided to hire out part of the process. There is a local company who does self-publishing for authors (still working on contracts with them so I won’t name them at the moment). They started years ago when they did everything including the printing. Today they’ve adapted to the digital world and help authors with details of self-publishing.
They’ll take my book, Heather’s files, and do the work of setting up for printing, uploading, managing my Amazon account, and all the little things I just don’t have time or interest in. What I’ll end up with is a physical book I can sell, a listing in their catalog and, of course, an Amazon URL I can send to everyone who wants to buy.
I have to do my own marketing and worrying about if this is a good idea or not.
Perhaps the hardest part of the process today is just keeping moving on a project that could fail and one that, at times, I feel could be improved. I reread the poems and alternate between liking them and wanting to rewrite them. Part of my inner critic wants to polish more and doesn’t think this is good enough.
But, it’s time.
The book is titled, There was a Time – poems, musings, and thoughts of experiencing cancer, Illustrations by Heather and all writing mistakes by me. It is the poetic reflections of my cancer treatment and my reactions to watching my mother die. It’s an emotional journey.
And it’s time for it to leave my desk and find whatever readers it can.
I’ll post the cover in a few weeks and hopefully it will be for sale by the end of April.
Until then, I’ll be bravely hiding under my desk wonder why I am doing this.