I Already Have

So now I have a sparkling clean apartment, I am learning how to be a little more of a Dante than a Randal at work, I’m trying to take up yoga again – what’s next?

Revising my freshly copyedited manuscript, you say?

Aw, man.

Okay, okay, no, actually that is sort of what I am doing right now (not…right now). I got it back yesterday, and it’s due back by March 1st, so yes, that’s my next step.

Writing a book is an interesting process, and I think it is more interesting when you’re converting it from fanfiction. Hm. Can I say that? I haven’t yet officially written a book that wasn’t converted, though that’s on the docket. I have started a few, though, and so maybe I can say that a little.

The thing about writing fanfiction is that someone has read your work. If you wrote it and posted it as you went, people were reading it as you went. Even if you wrote in the most obscure fandom with a pairing people didn’t think about before you came along, someone has read your work.

And that’s where the conversion process has been throwing me for a loop. People have read all of the fanfiction I wrote, and a lot of them were very kind about it. They expressed enjoyment. Many of those people are now my friends.

So when you convert your fanfic, stripping out all the fandom in-jokes and figuring out who your characters are, you’re going, is anyone who isn’t my friend or a general fan of my fanworks going to actually enjoy this?

My editor is someone I knew in passing in the fandom before I was signed on to Interlude Press. She’s an incredible writer in her own right, and since signing on, I have learned that she is an extraordinarily kind and generous person. She has been working to convince me that yes, I have written a very good book. Something that people who aren’t fandom will like. I’ve been wanting to accept that, and sometimes I can. Sometimes I read over my book and I really, really like it. But I haven’t quite been all the way there, much to poor Annie’s occasional consternation. I have been afraid to get all the way there.

Then my book went to copyedit.

And it came back, and while the customary corrections were there, there were also notes in the margins. Notes that indicated that someone might have enjoyed the process of reading my book, even if they were having to read it in order to clean it up. There were lines and scenes and characters that they liked.

The copyeditor doesn’t know me from Adam, I have no idea if they were ever in a fandom or this fandom I was in or anything. So far as I know, this is someone who has no idea who I am or what I have previously written who has expressed some enjoyment of my work.

There is a wonder in that, a wonder and an awe and a new confidence. An understanding.

(and an editor in the background hollering, dammit I told you)

(sorry, Annie!)

I’m under no illusions that everyone will enjoy my work. As a longtime blogger, I have seen bloggers publish books, fiction and non, and I have seen what goes along with that. Some people like the work on its merits. Some people don’t like the work and think it has no merit. Some people don’t like a writer and that’s reflected in their opinion of the work. There are a lot of people who regard fanfiction as cheap and lazy (I know! I used to be one of them, on a small confused scale) and who regard the conversion of it into fiction as cheap, lazy and unethical. And good lord, gay romantic fiction? There are a lot of people who aren’t going to like that at all.

So I am not expecting mass love. I mean, that’s life. That’s how it is, it’s heterogeneous in thought and opinion. Someone – likely someones – is not going to like what I write.

But right now, in the start of the homestretch of publishing my first book, someone does. Someone new, to whom I am fresh and unknown.

And for a minute there, when I need it, that makes me take in a deep breath and smile and say to myself, of course I can do this.

I already have.


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