No Score and Seven Years Ago...

October 28, 2011...

I don't remember what time it was, but it was late, probably the wee hours of the morning. I was trying to talk myself into doing something that made me very nervous.

I was going to post the first chapter of a story.


Late in the summer, I'd discovered fanfiction. It came as a shock to discover there were other people out there who rewrote books and movies to give them different endings or send the characters on new adventures. What's more, there was actually a huge community devoted to it... hundreds of thousands of stories.

I'd tentatively posted one a month or so earlier, and to my astonished delight, I had about twelve regular readers. Twelve! And they were reading it willingly! They were so nice about it!

I wasn't sure they'd be so nice about the one I was thinking of posting.

It was... weird. There's just no other way of describing a story that's about an alien with a tail and his kidnapped Earthling bride. Like viral you'll-be-memed-for-eternity kind of mockery. But I'd loved this story since it unfurled itself in my mind, and I wanted to share it. If the internet has taught me anything, it's that there's always someone out there who likes the same kind of stuff you do, even if that stuff is weird stories with heavy-handed allegory, pop-culture references, and geeky Magellan jokes.

I told myself there were hundreds of stories posted every day. It was likely no one would ever read it, but I was kind of charmed by the idea it would be floating around out there in the digital ether, perhaps finding and enchanting a reader someday.

But what if people were mean? I was a sensitive little thing back then. It was one of the reasons I'd never considered typing out one of my stories and submitting it to a publisher. I didn't think I could take cruel criticism or repeated rejections.

I told myself I was prepared. If people were cruel, I had an exit plan. Delete everything. Vanish into the void. No one would ever know. (I didn't even tell the people closest to me that I was writing, so I was pretty confident my real life and secret writing life would never intersect.) It would be like I never existed. I'd delete my account, and never return to any fanfiction site, thus avoiding any discussion or reviews.

I must have stared at the screen for an hour before I hit the "post chapter" button. I decided to back out of this whole stupid idea. But my finger hovered over the red X the same way it had the "post" button. I just couldn't click it.

A story isn't alive until it's read, after all. And I wanted so badly to let this one out into the world, albeit as anonymously as I could to shield my sensitive little self, but still... to let it exist in other people's imaginations.

It was like standing on the edge of a pool, knowing that first plunge will be an icy shock and trying to steel yourself to do it, because maybe it won't be so bad once you're in the water.

I finally reached up and punched the "post" button before I could talk myself out of it again. I switched off of the office light and went to bed, telling myself it wouldn't be a big deal and I was worrying myself for nothing.

It actually did become kind of a big deal. It's the reason my publisher contacted me to see if I'd want to write a book. But that's another post for another day.

Today, I find myself in the midst of indecision again. My publisher has closed and while I have other stories to tell, I don't know what to do with them. I'd rather be with a publishing house, but I don't want to have to go through the submissions process/rejection, so self-publishing is probably my best option, but it's a lot of work. So, I'm hovering with my finger over the button, still trying to talk myself into making a decision. (Which, frankly, is a trait which argues against self-publishing being a good option for me, but that's also another post for another day.)

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