Battling the “What Ifs”

Picture courtesy of

Picture courtesy of

I hammered out a partial rough draft for my story Dial V for Vampire during NaNoWriMo in November 2012. (See a snippet here.) A bedraggled cat rescued from a storm drain – and an off-hand suggestion from my husband – generated a simple idea that blossomed into the basis for an entire paranormal romance series; Dial V has the honor of being the first book in the series. However, I’m not good at working on multiple projects simultaneously and there were a couple of ideas ahead of it, so it just had to wait its turn. And it did – mostly patiently; every now and then it would tug on my sleeve and remind me that it was still waiting.

Finally, the other projects have been put to bed and it’s time to finish Dial V. Yay! I’ve pulled out the rough draft, transferred the text from Word into Scrivener, made minor edits and plenty of notes about changes to make during revisions. And then… nothing. What the heck is going on? This is the story that I have been excited about for two years – the story that I couldn’t wait to write. So why am I not writing it?

I finally realized that I am scared. Yes, you read that right. I’m scared. I have a serious case of the “what ifs.” As with any rough draft there are parts that I love and parts that suck. What if I can’t fix the sucky parts? It’s been a year and a half since I wrote the rough draft. What if I can’t finish it? What if I can’t fill in the plot holes? And I guess the biggest, scariest monster hiding in my mental closet is… what if I can’t make this story all that I want it to be? I love my story idea and I don’t want to let it down. And I’m afraid that I will. (I’m actually tearing up as I write this post.)

However, not finishing is not an option – for several reasons. I’ve given birth to this story; it deserves a chance to grow up and become all that it can be. I’m also hard-headed. I don’t give up without a fight. True, there may be some whining initially, but then I suck it up and do what needs to be done.

My adorable Viking helmet - a gift from my hubby.

My adorable Viking helmet – a gift from my hubby.

Conveniently enough, Camp NaNoWriMo happens in July; it is the brain child of the creators of the original NaNoWriMo and has many similarities. (You can check out the details here.) So, I’m going to put on my Viking helmet and use the month to finish. my. story. (Did you hear the determination?) If you are doing Camp NaNo as well, give me a shout – my pen name is RedHeadedViking (hence the Viking helmet); part of the fun of NaNo is encouraging each other along the way.

Have you ever been afraid of not being able to finish a story? If so, what did you do? Any and all encouragement is welcome! 


  1. Carrie Rubin says:

    I’m about 2/3 through my extended outline/first draft (it’s really a combination of both), and like you, I worry I won’t be able to fix the sucky parts. But also like you, persevere I will. The alternative is not acceptable. :)

    Good luck with NaNo!

  2. Elena Linville says:

    When I was in the middle of the first draft Of Broken Things, I had this paralyzing moment, when I had to switch POVs to tell the story of two characters I really cared about. I was terrified that wouldn’t be able to do them justice, that I would fail. And if I did fail, then the whole novel would fail because their story was central to everything else. I had a full-blown panic attack for the first time in my life.

    Well, I still managed to write it down, “bird by bird” so to say. Now during Camp NaNo, I will be revising that part, so I see another panic attack looming on the horizon.

  3. kristinamathews says:

    I love what you said about the story “deserves a chance to grow up and become all that it can be.” That’s exactly what I need to work through tough revisions on my third book in a series.

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