I have a confession to make.
Until last night, I didn't like my book.
Some of you don't even know that I have a book published. I do. It came out last year. It's a ghost story (horror novel) called SECOND HAND LACE. I don't really talk about it. I never handed it out to reviewers or did a big give away. I never blog toured and I hardly posted about it on any sort of social media.
Why? Because I am, or at least was embarrassed about it.
Let me hit you with a little back story. SHL was the first thing I'd ever written. After query failing, I hit up a few small presses and by some miracle it sold to the lovely folks at Turquoise Morning Press. I was ecstatic. I couldn't believe that someone actually wanted my book. I told everyone and anyone who would listen about it. In the near-year it took to release, I kept writing. I got better (as one tends to do with a lot of practice), and by the time SHL came out I had two new novels under my belt.
As soon as the SHL paperbacks came in, I freaked out. I hugged them and kissed them and built a tiny book fort. I remember sitting down and opening a copy for the first time. I remember reading it and my smile slowly slipped away.
Did I always use this many adverbs?
Why were the sentences so clunky?
WHY ARE THERE SO MANY DIALOGUE TAGS??
I don't think I made it more than a few chapters in before I put it down. I haven't picked it up since.
I still smiled when people complimented me but I shrugged when countless people asked where they could get a copy. I was an ungrateful little brat because I didn't think it was good enough and if I didn't want to read it, why would anyone else?
Anyways, last week I got an e-mail from my publisher. They're switching over to a more romance focused business model and said we could talk to them about anything we thought didn't fit the new mould (my spellcheck is telling me mold isn't a word. Am I crazy?) My first thought was "Thank God. Maybe one day I can rewrite it and fix that one typo / dialogue tags, etc."
(I know what you're thinking, "What a spoiled bitch." Bear with me.)
Anyway, last night a co-worker of mine blushed adorably and said she'd read the copy of THE BONE TREE (the book of my heart) I had accidentally left saved on the work computer. She loved it. She said, and I quote, "I could actually see everything in my head. That's never happened to me before." She went on about how awesome I was and totally pumped up my tires. I thanked her but all along I was thinking, "I wish she read the revised version. It's so much better than the original. I. Am. So. Embarrassed."
Like....What the actual fuck. I just blabbed onto my agent about how much I love TBT and a week later I'm embarrassed about it because I made some minor changes? That same week I got excited about potentially pulling my book so I could rewrite it...even though I have six other things on the go. And I don't write adult anymore. And I have zero interested in self-publishing it. The train of thoughts that came after really hit me upside the head. I sat down and thought about all I had accomplished and went to bed thinking, "How dare I??"
How dare I negate the two solid years of hard work I poured into SHL. How could I forget the excitement that came with that publishing offer?? How could I dream of pulling it off the self because it isn't perfect? How could I ignore compliments about my favourite book because I changed a half a dozen sentences?? Why wasn't anything I did good enough?? And when would it be??
I always used to tell myself I felt this way about SHL because I'm a better writer now. What I didn't understand was improving doesn't mean your past work sucks. All the hard work I put into SHL doesn't mean anything less just because I have an agent or I can control my dialogue tags.
This morning, I woke up with a smile on my face. I grabbed my copy of SHL and hugged it. I'm making book marks and handing them out. I'm sending my great aunts their copies with pride.
Maybe you're like me and think the work you did last year/month/week/night isn't good enough. But it is. It is great. It is worth a read. You should be proud.
Now here's a new confession. My name is Jenna Lehne and I wrote Second Hand Lace...and you know what?
It's pretty freaking awesome.