Shameless plug and writing PTSD

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So, the plug. My modest collection of short stories, “Perfect & Others Stories” releases August 13th, to celebrate an important family birthday. Published by Solstice, it is available in e-book format only through Amazon and Smashwords even has a free preview, if you’re interested, and you can also pre-order it. Ninety-nine cents for entertaining brain food is a great deal!

On Smashwords, you’ll need to look it up under author’s name (Cynthia Ley). Amazon will post it overnight on the 12th. Anyway, I hope you all enjoy it and I’ld love it if you took a few minutes to write a review. This is my first book. Thanks, guys!

On to the other topic of the day. Do you remember when you were in school and had to write fiction for the first time? And the second? And the third, all the way up through your college years?

So do I–and it still makes me shudder.

Writing was never the issue for me. It was always the second half of the assignment that got me: “…and next session, we’ll all read our stories aloud for the rest of the class.”

Words to make shy people like me want to curl up into a ball the size of a pinhole and disappear. Read? In front of other people? I just knew that God and the universe were going to be pointing fingers and laughing right along with my classmates.

It turned me off of writing fiction for a long, long time. Always good with words and language, I poured those abilities into research writing and excelled. I could even present research to other people without flinching.

But fiction? Something that came just from me? If it terrified me in school, writing fiction on my own was an even more terrifying prospect. Revealing our imagination exposes us to the world, bumps, warts, sinkholes, and all. I told myself I couldn’t do it, period.

Yay for writing PTSD.

It was really avoidance. I cowered behind words of denial. “I can’t” meant “I’m afraid to try.”

I work as an editor for a book publishing company. How many times did I read someone else’s fiction and admire their skill? Or feel challenged in an “I can write better than that!” kind of way. My competitive nature kicked in. Others in the business saw it and encouraged me. If they didn’t like my work, it was ok–both writing and reading are subjective exercises.

So I sat down, a friend having given me a theme with which to play, and wrote. It wasn’t half bad. I shared it with others who are now my crit (i.e. critical/critique) readers. “Keep going,” they said.

I didn’t have to stand in front of the entire class and no one was laughing at me. I was getting useful critiques back on which to hone my craft.

I followed their advice and kept going.


I no longer vanish into pinholes. I write, review, edit, rewrite, check and double check as often as I need to so I can be sure I have done my best to tell the story the way I want it to be told. I attach it to the submissions form.

Nowadays, the scariest part of writing comes when I take that one last deep breath before clicking “Send.”


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