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  • Ania Ahlborn

Babies. Puppies. And an Existential Crisis.


Okay, I just need to accept the fact that I’m not a blogger—at least not in the sense that I’m at all reliable enough to have a new post every week, month, whatever. Nope. Not happening. You guys, I literally forgot I had a blog since my last post. Forgot. I’ll just be standing around, and suddenly it’ll hit me, like, “oh, damn…how long has it been?”


That said, I’ve decided that my post can’t really be subject-based, because guess what? I’ll never get to all the subjects I want to cover. From now on I’ll just do a bit of a current-thoughts roundup. And guys, I have a lot of thoughts, and some of those thoughts involve feelings, so prepare yourselves…


The last blog post I wrote was my opinion on authors moonlighting as reviewers and how I think it’s terrible form. Well, that blog post got linked by a good pal of mine on Instagram—a lovely lady that has a shitton of followers, many of which are authors themselves. Well, let’s just say my pal found herself in the crosshairs of heated debate to the point where some folks were yelling up to the heavens, “I’ll do whatever TF I want!” (I imagine they shook their tiny fists at the sky while turning red in the face, but whatever. Whatever.) Point is, some people got mad. I find this both confounding and amusing.


In my post, I called out self-published authors as the main culprits of this writer/reviewer duality. The fist-shakers were, guess what, self-published authors. Well, I’ll be! I also said that I think it’s a conflict of interest because, hey, you write a bad review of one book and then shrug your shoulders and say, “but listen, don’t read this book, just read mine instead!” I don’t think using one book’s missteps and failures as a platform to sell your own work is right. It’s disrespectful to the author who, regardless of what you think of their oeuvre, put their heart and soul into their book. Look, I wrote a whole post about this. I’m not going to rehash it here. But what I will say is, I stand by that post. Authors should respect other authors efforts. Period. If you don’t, you’re a jerk. Sorry, but it is what it is.


Speaking of reviews and social media, you guys, listen… I have said it a million times, and I’ll say it a million more, I don’t read reviews. At least not voluntarily. So, when I’m tagged in posts that are reviews, you can imagine my face. (Read: nonplussed, unimpressed, sighing with disappointment at your life choices. I raised you better than this.) Part one of this? Reviews are for readers, not authors. I have no business reading your thoughts and opinions on a book that’s already been published, but other readers absolutely do. (Again, I cover all of this in my previous post.) Part two? It gives me serious anxiety and screws with my head. Quick newsflash: when you boil a writer down to their essence, you get a bitter soup of self-consciousness, imposter syndrome, and self-doubt. It’s not tasty, especially when I’m involved, because…


I’ve been having a hell of a time getting back in my groove lately. And when I say “hell of a time,” I mean I haven’t been able to do it, period. This makes me feel terrible about myself. I mean, if you’re going to blow up your ability to work, you may as well do it with a baby. There is no better, more lovely thing. Babies are adorable and amazing creatures. But they’re also tiny energy vampires and even when I’m running on a rare full night of sleep, I still feel exhausted by, like, 8 PM. Folks with kids understand and empathize. Folks without are probably thinking, suck it up, make some coffee. I laugh at this. There is no amount of coffee, guys. No amount.


But maybe cocaine…


I have a fantastic idea for my next book, but have I been able to sit down and do anything about it? Nope. I’ve tried. I’ve started working on characters and plot, and I’ve spent about a month just hashing things out inside my head. And yet, nothing comes of it because I’m just. too. tired. I find myself in a vicious cycle of both going easy on myself (it’s not your fault, you’re bogged down with all this other shit right now, just chill out about it) and being my worst enemy (anyone else would just sit down and push through the exhaustion, you’re just weak, unmotivated, your work ethic has gone in the toilet). And then it’s all made worse by…


…being tagged in a review, which means I read part of it involuntarily. You know, kind of like someone screaming something you don’t want and certainly don’t need to hear directly into your ear. And at the risk of this person seeing this blog post, I’ll just come out and tell you what it said…or, at least the thing that got to me (because I didn’t read the entire thing). It said that because IF YOU SEE HER is self-published, it’s buried beneath a slew of grammatical and formatting errors.


Now, this may not sound like a big deal…but to me? This is panic attack material. Because I spend months, guys, literal months of my life editing and reediting and rereading and blood-sweat-and-tearing over a manuscript not even to improve the story in the end, but to simply catch grammatical and formatting errors. Do I nitpick over comma placement and whether I should be using an em dash or semicolon? Not really. I write in a way which feels right, not in a way that would satisfy a grammar Nazi’s wildest fantasies. It’s called style, folks, and absolutely every writer worth their salt has their own way of putting words to a page. Does this mean I have some technical errors? Sure, of course. I probably use way too many commas. I didn’t pay much attention during the grammar section in English class because I not only thought it was mind-numbingly dull but also completely archaic and arbitrary. But for someone to say that IF YOU SEE HER is plagued with errors on a public platform…it’s not only saying that I wasted months of my life editing, but it’s also telling those who don’t know my work, “hey, look, you may want to skip this author because this chick doesn’t know a preposition from a gerund.”


In the case of IF YOU SEE HER, I’ve run this MS through multiple grammar programs. (And by the way, any grammar program worth the money will have various style options. Grammarly has a “creative” option for fiction. It doesn’t give a damn about gerunds.) I then rerun all my corrections to double and triple-check them for anything missed. I checked the formatting a hundred thousand times. Does that mean I’ve caught all the errors? Absolutely not. But you know what? Professionally published books have errors, too. I’ve gotten many emails and DM’s about my other books saying, “oh hey, I found a mistake” in the past. It happens.


And as far as formatting errors? I don’t know where those are. Amazon has a handy little publishing tool for Kindle books. You can literally see what the book will look like across multiple devices before you ever hit “publish.” Again, I double and triple-checked all of these…and I didn’t see anything (blatant) that I’d missed. Is there an error here and there? Oh, I’m sure there is. Is it something I should be called out on? …you decide I guess.


I’ll just leave it at this: I do not publish my work lightly. I never have. I never will.


To circle back, “stumbling” across this review (and I use quotation marks because, yeah, tagged. Thanks for that!) has turned my already overwhelming sense of failure (since I can’t sit down and write right now for anything) into a near-desire to just…forget it. Screw this whole thing. Do something else.


Okay, don’t panic. I’m not going to forget it. But that’s how I feel right now.


I know confessing this will bring on a slew of well-wishes and “dude, you’re awesome” comments…I appreciate those comments, I do. They mean a whole hell of a lot to me. But it doesn’t change the fact that I’m in this weird place right now, struggling to find my footing, and I’m not quite sure how to manage it.


I guess the silver lining of this post could be that, hey, guess what, even we “seasoned” writers struggle with this kind of nonsense, and it sucks. So, if you’re out there, struggling with your own challenges, just know that I’m right there with you. Solidarity!


Anyway, fun blog post, right? Here’s a picture of a puppy to distract you from my existential crisis. Awh. Cute!



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