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  • Deni Skeens

What The Fuck Was I Thinking?

I'm one of those types, the types that needs to get their hands dirty, take everything apart and see what's what, see how the hell this process works and doesn't. I learn by doing, and damned all the advice and how-to's. I'm a special brand of stubborn, a true glutton for punishment and if I fail 100 times, it means I'm gonna snatch up a +120 to knowledge.


The Angries

This process I'm referring to is self-publishing.

I've penned four complete manuscripts (roughly 95+ words apiece) across an 8-year span with little novella-like sandos in-between.

For me, it's pretty fucking impressive, and also, hella dope.

For me, obtaining focus time from 3 kids and everything 'that' entails is a struggle, and this here, this is a battle hard fought and won.

Of my growing collection of unfinished business, The Angries screamed the loudest; she really, really wanted to be heard.

Who am I but her ever obedient servant to comply with her banshee's wail?

Thus, I set out to produce the story to a completed state that I felt was fitting to release.

June 1, at 4:20 p.m. (the magic time) I published both Kindle and paperback (dude, that's a story for a different day, and entire story filled with twists and turns and beautiful frustration— spoiler alert, not sure I agree that printing is a good idea from the get-go.)

Straight-up no shit honesty; I am filled with more anxiety NOW, than when I clicked the submit/publish button.

Did I do it right?

I wrote the damn thing, yup, no denying it.

I had decided earlier on that I wanted to understand this self-publishing phenomenon first-hand, that I wanted to see the process in motion and experience the complications of going from draft to final. I wanted to know if I could utilize my skills as a producer and if I could apply the methodologies from my game producer days to this pipeline— spoiler alert, totes can.

I had zero funds to invest in post-writing the damn thing edits, but am fortunate to have had help from a friend that moonlights as a copy-editor, as well as an overall proof from another friend that loves to nit-pick every single word related thing. (This blog is probably going to make her eyes bleed)

I self-edited, on Kindle, printed with pen handy, and then on Kindle again, my husband and son read and called shit out. We were like a little army of proofers and self-proclaimed editors, and we were attacking this manuscript like we'd bought it cheap with the intent to fix her up and sell her for more than we paid.

But man, even after that, even AFTER the many hours of grammar checks, the spell checks, the read-through after read-through, the last-minute grammar check and the quick flip through— shit, an error… I found another error! No, no not a spelling error, one of those needling little bastard errors, stupid commas, stupid quotations, stupid unnecessary ellipses— screw you passive voice!

Wait, babe, is this your style or did you fuck this up? It's hard to tell at times with your style.

Fuckity, fuck, fuck, fuckstix.

Shit.

Yeah.

The simple truth is, we're human, and we make mistakes, and even checkers make mistakes or miss the errors made by the backup checkers.

I'll miss a word drop every damn time because I wrote the damn thing, and I'm immune. My brain will fill in the blanks, but it does not do that for the end-reader.

Anxiety.

Take a breath.

It happens.

And I'm sure I'm gonna be wolfing down some 'ahh snap' pie for that.

But the anxiety, the paranoia of 'how bad is it?', it's still there, and it will probably stay that way for a while.

I haven't grown into this new skin, and it's got that new car smell that needs to fade a bit before I can get comfortable in the seat. I haven't braced myself for the world of public opinion and judgment, and I'm not sure this is something I can do on my own, or will naturally occur over time, like sea-legs the longer I'm out on the water.

I chose to self-pub, I didn't have the funds for a pro-service, not for an entire check of the manuscript due to its size.

I'm learning. I'm going through these steps, steps that so many others have taken before me, chances being under very similar circumstances.

And I'm documenting the fuck out of this process.

Having started my career as a tester, I know how to write-up some damn fine step-by-steps, post-mortems and general process needs improvements stat! plans.

It's a clunky and overwhelming process at first. There are a lot of moving pieces, and you're on the hook for all of them.

You are the agent, you are the writer, you are the editor, you are the proofreader and the artist, the cover designer, the layout and formatting genius, the biggest fucking cheerleader for your product.

You are the marketing and PR.

Marketing?!

Also another more lengthy and more in-depth discussion for a smoking hot Austin day, but yes, my anxiety is juggling the ol' wtf do I do about getting people to read my book dilemma.

I have no answer on this right now, and the only state of mind I can classify this as is; intimidating as fuck— and pricey.

It didn't cost me a mother-fucking cent to write this baby, but getting her through college and on her way to success, it's not so cheap.

Hey! You made it to the end of my first big-blog-brain-dump!

That's pretty much where my head is right now. I'm swimming in this bizarre state of accomplishment, and am distracted by all the things that I should be doing next, blogging included.

I've followed to release a story that I've been nurturing for several years, one that has seen three complete re-writes and many, many hours of people shredding it. Editing, copy, proofing, I've got a diatribe for you. I've got a lot to say in regards to deciding to go this alone, versus peddling it out to a publisher.

Self-publishing is a hard as fuck choice to make.

There is a lot, and I do mean ALL the damn responsibility placed on your shoulders, and you're standing on a lava flow that doesn't give two-shits about your nifty-new lava proof shoes.

Undermining that accomplishment is the fear that no matter how many hours I've committed, no matter how much love I've poured into it, no matter the final cuts, the hard decisions and the mind-numbing amount of read-throughs (eye bleeds included) it just wasn't enough. My anxiety wants me to believe this, and if I let it tell me what to do, I may never write another word as long as I live.

So, as I care about my story and my characters more than I care about my dread, I'm going to push through.

I'm going to remain optimistic and hungry to learn more.

This journey is far from over, and what are mistakes but an opportunity to learn and become wiser.

I owe it to myself to do better, to keep moving forward and persist with the drive to publish the best story that I can. It's the only way to grow, to hone the craft and damn it, the story deserves my dedication. So do the people who enjoy reading it, want to tag along and shoot the shit while passing through this universe that I'm building.


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