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The Sirens of Suspense

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

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Jessica Lourey is the author of the Lefty-nominated Murder-by-Month mysteries set in Battle Lake, Minn. She is a member of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, The Loft, and a founding faculty member of the Mystery Writers of America's MWA University. Lourey resides in St. Cloud, Minn., where she is a professor of writing and sociology.

 

Find Jessica on Facebook and Twitter.

http://jessicalourey.com

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item1 SLAYING THE LADY WORRY item1
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"I'm thinking maybe it won't be this book but hopefully eventually!"

You know what that sentence is? That sentence is The Lady Worry. I received it from a lovely woman whom I've never met. She liked my Murder-by-Month mysteries and tracked me down via Facebook to let me know. We had a little back and forth, and she revealed she's written a book and that she's mid-hunt for an agent. I shared what I knew about getting an agent (400+ rejections teaches you what NOT to do), we had a little more back and forth, and I ended by telling her (honestly) that I had a really good feeling about her landing an agent. She responded with:

"I'm thinking maybe it won't be this book but hopefully eventually!"

Sigh. I recognized that sentence instantly. Classic Lady Worry. The, "I spent thousands of hours crafting this narrative and I believe in it, enough so that I'm going to put it out into the world because it's the best thing I've ever created but probably it's not that good and won't go anywhere so maybe next time." I see women do this all the time in the arts ("I really believe in this but probably it's not good"), or as a reason not to become an artist ("I'm not talented enough so maybe I'll just--"), or in their day jobs ("I don't want to ask for a raise until I--"), or in any situation that requires us to step outside of our comfort zone and believe in ourselves.

Dammit. I hate the Lady Worry. I do it myself all the time, automatically. Take The Catalain Book of Secrets, my most recent novel, my first foray into magical realism, and the best thing I've every written. When my agent told me she loved it, I wondered if she knew what she was talking about. On phone calls with the top editors at Random House, Penguin, and Simon & Schuster, each of them one lick from signing me, I told myself that they probably wouldn't end up buying the manuscript, even though they had many wonderful things to say about it. I ended up being right, of course. Like Henry Ford said, "whether you think you can, or think you can't--you're right."

So, Catalain didn't get signed. I was going to shuffle off and quietly self-publish it when my dear friend Matthew Clemens talked me into trying a Kickstarter campaign to really get the book out there. I hemmed and hawed, he gently pushed, and I eventually did it, against all my best judgment. What if people think I'm a beggar? What if no one pledges? If the book was meant to be published, it would have been published. What if people fund the campaign and hate my book? I'm going to make a public fool of myself. I'm not good enough. Those were the captions to my mental circus the whole month of October 2014.

Fortunately, my Lady Worry was no match for the love of 100s, and the campaign was successfully funded this past Halloween. I hired the best designers, developed a marketing plan, got great advanced reviews from Kirkus and Midwest Book Review, among others, and sent the book out into the world--300 review copies, 200 Kickstarter reward copies--on 12/13/14.

Victory, right?

Nope.

The SECOND the work was done, The Lady Worry humped back onto my shoulders, a quiet, confident harpy reassuring me that my writing wasn't going to go anywhere, that I should just walk away from the Catalains, that maybe the next book would be better. It was a toxic blend of "good for you for trying, now shhh get back in line" so very dangerous because from the outside it looks like you're reaching for the stars when you're really pulling your own ladder out from under yourself.

Why do I do this to myself? Why do my amazing friends (all genders, though I hear this specific worry more often from my female-identified friends; hence the name) do this to themselves, putting their heart and spirit into their work and then immediately backing off from it, signaling to the Universe that they don't really mean it this time but might the next time?

Enough already, I say. Fuck you, Lady Worry. I'm going to fight for this book, replacing one negative thought at a time with a positive mantra, even if I have to do it 50,000 times a day (which I suspect I will, at first), even if I have to fake it until I make it.

I will report.

In the meanwhile, I wrote a book I'm proud of. It's called The Catalain Book of Secrets. If you like magical realism, or spending time with strong women, or getting lost in a story, I'd love for you to check it out. Thank you.

 

HOW DO YOU SLAY LADY WORY? Tell us or leave a comment on the blog below or on our Facebook page and you’ll be entered to win a copy of THE CATALAIN BOOK OF SECRETS! (U.S. only please.)

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