Writer’s Trauma

About three years ago, I was thrilled when I finished writing an entire novel. I had great expectations for it. It didn’t see the darkness of the press or sit in bookstores where fans cradled it and smelled the fresh print, as I had hoped. But it’s on Inkitt.com, and that’s better than it being locked inside my cupboard. A few days ago, I got an email from Inkitt about a new contest called the Teaser Awards. It’s pretty straightforward: I have to write a 200-character teaser for my novel.

Fun, I thought. It would be a great way to persuade people to read my story. I needed more readers because most of my cheerleaders (immediate friends and family) didn’t even get past the first chapter. It’s not because the story was crappy, (I checked), but other pressing stuff came up. And with this teaser assignment, I thought I’d use my creativity to re-ask my friends and family to give my novel a second chance.

I sat down to write.

Three years was a long time ago. Of course, I know every scene almost by heart, but when I had to drill it down to a 200-character teaser, I got stuck. Not that I had so much to say and didn’t know what to pick, but because I had nothing at all to say. All of a sudden, the story I spent hours pondering on and nurturing, didn’t seem interesting enough. I tried digging my memory for something worth talking about, and it was as if my story was worth nothing. I didn’t have adrenaline pumping action, no sword fights, no heated arguments, not even a trace of romance. For fifty chapters, I had rambled on an on about a normal girl going about her normal life. I didn’t know what to say in my teaser.

I panicked. If I couldn’t find excitement in the story, myself, how would anyone else find it? I was so shattered I couldn’t work on my teaser anymore. I gave it a break, a day. Then it hit me: perhaps that’s why my family couldn’t read the story. Because there was nothing interesting about the everyday life of a teenager.

It was a depressing revelation, because when I wrote the story, I thought I’d made it as relatable as possible. A handful of readers told me they got bored after the first few chapters, but again, folks who did manage to read the whole story told me they loved it. (Well, not “I loved it” verbatim, but most of them said things like, “great work.”) And now every time someone tells me I’ve done a decent job, I can’t help my widening lips, my glowing face, and my joyous swelling, heart.

That’s how it is: You’d never know how others would react to your stories. There will always be mixed feelings and varied reviews. Some would like your story, some would hurl at it. Some give you constructive feedback, some would just throw unhelpful opinions. Variety is the essence of life. And it’s also the curse of writing.

I did rework my teaser to this:

What if you don’t know your calling? You’d try to figure it out, making decisions you’d regret – or love. You’d break your heart a few times, too. Until one day, you’ll succeed and all will be well.

If you think it works, you can read the story here. I would appreciate your feedback, whether good and bad.


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