Favours and Neurosis
All right, I think I’m recovered from the bout of insanity that cause the last post. Really, I’m okay. Sometimes I just need to get stuff out of my system to get some perspective on whatever’s bothering me. I promise, I’ve been good the last couple of days, not pushing myself to such stupid lengths. The inner editor has been… relatively quite is the best way to describe it, I guess. Mostly, she’s been busy editing.
So, how has that been going? Almost done. I’m working on Chapter 21 of Where The Ether Flows now for actual edits, and Chapter 23 for markups. I’ve been doing markups one the way to work and at lunch, so I can concentrate on editing when I get home. It’s sort of interesting, though, working on two different parts of the story more or less simultaneously. I keep having to remind myself where I am. I’m not sure if that’s helping or hurting. Round two will tell that tale, I suppose.
None of this is what I really wanted to talk about tonight, but I thought I’d get that out of the way. I should warn you, you’re about to get another taste of me being a bit… neurotic, in case the post title didn’t give that away. The situation could be worse and, strangely, as this subject causes my neurosis to only affect myself. I’m talking about asking others for favours, especially as you take first steps. I’m actually exceedingly bad at both parts of that sentence.
This is coming up because I finally did something that I’ve been dithering over for weeks, but I did it in such a way as to avoid having to ask for what feels to me like a favour of a friend. I emailed someone about doing a cover for Bound. That’s definitely a first step for me, as I’ve never had a cover done up for a book in my life. Not a surprise when you realize that Bound is also the first novel I ever finished. No comments on the fact that I wrote it twice. But you can see why I call it a first step? I’m always terrified of those, and I think it’s because they’re so easy to screw up. I don’t have any experience, and no amount of research is going to teach me all the things that having done it will. Trust me, I’ll be going through this every step of Bound’s remaining journey to being a published novel (EEEEP). Really, I’m okay, I’m only hyperventilating here. Breathe, Julie, just breathe.
So, where does the avoiding asking for a favour come into this? Well, here’s the thing. A friend of mine who recently starting working in graphic design suggested he’d like to do a cover for my book if I was interested. It was mentioned mostly in passing as we conversed on a variety of subjects, and we went on to another topic without my saying much one way or another. I was surprised and flattered by the offer and didn’t quite know how to respond. He and I have had a few conversations since without it being mentioned (though admittedly, Bound didn’t come up either). Now I find I’m ready to have a cover done and I haven’t chatted with him in a month or two. I could email him, or contact him in a few other ways, but I feel… reluctant to. I want to take him up on his offer, or at least talk to him about it, but it feels like I’d be asking him for a favour and I don’t know how to approach that.
Maybe for some, this is easy, but for me, it’s like getting a root canal done. Painful and to be avoided at all costs. There are a number of reasons for this, and the biggest is that I don’t want to make people feel obligated to do something for me. I feel like just asking would do that, or make them think that I only have them around so they can do favours for me, so I never ask. Seriously, I almost never ask anyone for anything. I think I could be bleeding to death and I wouldn’t ask for first aid. Why do I feel that way? Because it’s often my reaction when asked by others, feeling like I have to say yes. Sometimes I want to, and so it’s not an issue, and other times I’m cringing as I say “Sure, yeah, I guess I could do that.” I think another part is that I have trouble sometimes ascertaining if someone really means what they say or are just being polite. I mean, people do that all the time, say things they don’t mean, and I’m always nervous that they didn’t really mean it when they offered to do that thing (anything), and that I’ll create an awkward situation if I ask. So I don’t ask.
It isn’t just the cover art either. Oh no, it’s not one single thing by any stretch. For me, it’s everything. I had been thinking about getting one more beta reader for Bound, and I know one or two people I’d like to ask, but then I don’t. I can’t make myself do it. I know that they’re busy people with lives and manuscripts of their own, and I feel uncomfortable asking, even if I were to add that they’re under no obligation to agree. I value their opinion of my work and the feedback they might be able to provide me, but I also value their opinion of ME, and I don’t want to jeopardize that. I swear, in some respects I’m a total coward.
So, I haven’t emailed anyone else about reading for me, and I emailed a total stranger I found on Twitter about a cover, all so I could avoid the situation entirely. I refuse to let these things stop me, or hold my writing back, which is why I jumped off that cliff and emailed said total stranger who has a nice portfolio on their website, but some days, I wish I could find a way to ask. I might feel less alone in trying to do the biggest thing I’ve ever attempted in my life. It’s scary and intimidating, facing this incredible task. I appreciate the people who have helped me to this point, I really do. It’s just that I’m staring at the rest of the road and seeing only me on it. It’s terrifying, but I’m still putting one foot in front of the other, because it’s the only way to get through this.