Tonight I "finished" my latest book: The Rider. It's cowritten with Scott Sigler and takes place in his universe. But why did I say "finished?" Well, there's a lot of work to do. This is merely "my" first draft. It has to be worked on by the other author.
That said, this one was like giving birth. It's not every day that a very successful NYT Author asks me to write a book in his GFL Universe. Some have, but not many. To my knowledge, there are 5 of us that were invited to write novellas for a few characters that show up in his stories.
My task, however, wasn't to flesh out a major character. Instead, my task was to take an extremely minor character and his sport, and transform it into a novella. The sport? Oh, boy, it's a doozie. If you're a regular reader of Scott Sigler's, you'll know after you read/listen to "The All-Pro." And if you don't, you should get your hands on all the Galactic Football League books, even if you don't like sports, because they're hard sci-fi and the worlds are brilliant.
Because I have so much respect for his stories and accomplishments, the last thing I wanted to do was submit something subpar. I struggled and struggled to build a character and his world that would give Scott's readers the experience they deserve and the quality they expect. For someone who's dreadfully insecure about their skills, this is terrifying.
When I finished writing the last sentence of the last chapter, I tweeted. I facebooked. And then...well... I panicked.
I immediately started going through the novel with a comb. I scanned through it, made a few corrections in each chapter, and kept going. Then I stared at it. Then I asked it questions. Then I walked away.
It was done. I was done. It's the first draft! It's not the last! If it sucks, I'll get a chance to fix it! Or will I?
When you're asked to write something for someone, it's more terrifying than writing something for yourself. It just is. It's worse when someone else went to the trouble of dreaming up a universe and then asking you to contribute.
I haven't submitted a story for an anthology or for publication in forever. It's doubtful I'll ever do so since I handle my own work. But if you're working with a publisher, you usually submit a query, wait for them to agree to look at the book, and then send the book. If you're querying to see if someone wants to PAY you to write the book, and they accept, you're on the hook to provide a quality product you haven't yet created.
All this panic is to be ignored, I know. But it does mean a lot to me. And until the book is published and a success, I'm going to continue biting my nails. I hope it meets Dark Øverlord Media's expectations and I really hope it meets yours.
Until then, however, I have more writing to do in MY universe. And I'm getting back to that right now.