Just days before I published Crushing on You (my racy, race-y debut romance novel), the biggest question rattling around in my head was, "What will ____ say?"
Specifically, "What will ____ say about the fact that I wrote a novel with explicit sex scenes in it, with all kinds of four- and five-letter words?"
Fill in the blank with:
my old-school Asian parents (find out in the next post)
my old-school Asian extended family
my former colleagues in male-dominated tech and academia
my husband's colleagues
WELL. Let me tell you...
While the book hasn't been published for very long, I can honestly say that, so far, all I've found is overwhelming support.
I have been absolutely floored by the outpouring of support and generosity from my network, and even from total strangers. So many folks have reached out and congratulated me for taking a leap and doing something completely out of left field, and have even gone out of their way to help me pursue my dreams.
Folks who don't usually read romance novels slogged through early drafts of my manuscript and gave me fabulous feedback, so that I could craft characters who were both believable and relatable.
Friends who work in marketing or at social media companies have helped me up my SEO and advertising game, and others have offered to connect me to fellow romance authors that they know.
And, so many people have bought my book and sent truly heartfelt messages my way, despite being outside the core target audience (are you a fun-loving Millennial who reads smut? Buy the book here).
Their kindness (your kindness) has meant the world to me. 🙌🏻
But all of this trust and support...does my book deserve it?
Instead of feeling euphoric when I published my book, I was filled with dread.
Just two days after publishing, I was lying down on my couch, crying with deep shame, anxiety, and regret. Throughout the course of writing, I'd oscillated constantly between hating and loving my book, and after hitting publish, my feelings mostly centered around disappointment in myself for not holding on and polishing it even more.
By publishing, I, the author, have made a promise to you, the reader, that I'm telling you the best story that I'm capable of. But even though I've received some great feedback on the book, I can't help but feel that I haven't lived up to that promise, despite knowing that I easily could have held on and edited ad nauseum.
Sometimes I think that maybe I should have. It's those moments when I consider pulling my book off the e-shelves and not letting anyone else look at it until it's all grown up, possibly months or years down the road.
I'm not the only one who has messed up, or who feels like they've messed up, even when maybe they haven't.
The only thing that I can promise is that I will try my best to become a better writer, and make sure that every book is better than the last.
Beyond regrets, it's hard to wake up each morning and face the cold hard numbers.
Selling stuff is like, really hard.
Marketing is like, really hard.
You constantly have to put your work out there and tell people that it's worth paying attention to, while somehow finding time to take care of yourself and work on your next book.
And when you're riddled with self-doubt, as I am, it is such a stressful experience.
Back in the day, as a physicist, I was always able to defend myself, to back my findings up with real, experimental data. "Under these conditions, the electrons exhibited this behavior, and therefore, that is what happened."
But as an author?
"Is my book good? You tell me!"
There is no doubt in my mind that, likely sometime soon, someone will come across my book and he or she will take an absolute dump on it. Or will try to, on me.
But for every condescending or hateful word that each of those people write, I have a thousand more from people who have got my back.
Thank you 🌹
As one former colleague put it, "There's nothing in the world that makes me happier than seeing people achieve their goals/dreams."
I think he's not alone, and (spoiler alert!) this is something that I explore in my book, as well. One of the characters in Crushing on You takes steps to pursue his/her dream, and the results astound him/her.
I'm so grateful that my own journey has had a parallel outcome.