Friday, March 05, 2010

Freak-Out Friday - Does It Ever Get Easier?

Warning: This post may be harmful to your blissfully happy demeanor. If you have nothing to complain about today, move on.

Do ever ask yourself why you do what you do?
If I was forced to admit how many years I've been writing, I'd run in the opposite direction. Fast.
When they tell you writing is not for the faint of heart, they're not kidding.
When you hear that only a handful of aspiring authors ever finish their first manuscript, believe it.
Worse, an even smaller handful actually go on to get published.

You can sign up for every course ever offered on writing, and there are a bazillion of them.
Read each and every single book you can get your hands on about the craft.
Attend all the conferences you can afford and take notes until your hand drops off.
You can write several novels that in your estimation are going to soar straight to #1 on the Bestseller List.
But then several years into it, you begin to wonder if you know anything at all.
You are stuck. You think you've done all the right things, but you're not getting anywhere.

If I told you I had it all figured out, I'd be lying. Truth is, I don't have anything figured out.
The longer I'm at this, the more confused I become.
Just when I think I know it all, I realize I know very little.
So what gives?
What is it about some books that make them salable, marketable and profitable?
Why does Amish fiction sell?
Why do people care about vampires and wizards, talking dogs and some guy finding a shack in the middle of nowhere?
And how is a writer ever supposed to get it right if nobody tells them what they're doing wrong?

I could stop right here and wax poetic about riding the waves of discouragement, never giving up, continuing to learn and grow, and oh yes, rejoicing in rejection, but I'm not going to do that.
Because I'm not feeling it today.
And every once in a while I think we should be honest.

The thing I find most amusing about all those wonderfully uplifting posts you read about suffering through the harsh realities of publication and using each rejection as a stepping stone, is that they're pretty much all written by published authors.
I know I'm supposed to clap and cheer for John Doe and thank them for the great words of wisdom they have imparted. I know if I don't, I'll just sound like a big whiny baby who thinks the world is against her.
I guess I'd rather just tell the truth.
Some days I don't appreciate hearing success stories. Does that make me a bad person?
Maybe. But maybe it just makes me real.

I know all those folks are just trying to be encouraging.
But they're already on the other side of the ocean.
And I want to ask them if they even remember sitting here.
Wanting to scream until you can't scream anymore.
Ready to give it all up and go get a real job. (NB to Hubby - don't hold your breath).

It's not surprising that so many aspiring authors never make it to publication.
This gig is hard. Really hard.
And it can be really, really discouraging.
But there are always those who will smile and tell you you're just being silly, you need to keep your chin up, "You're too blessed to be depressed!"
Uh huh.
Yes. I am blessed. But I'm also human.
I'm exercising my God-given right to actually admit my failures and short-comings.
Take it or leave it.
But if there's anything in my moaning that resonates with you, jump on board and wail with me.
Because sometimes a good cry is well worth the blotchy cheeks and red eyes.
Got a gripe? Go ahead and share it.
But this is a one day only deal.
Tomorrow we'll put on our happy faces again.
And maybe some time in the future, in a galaxy far far away, I'll write one of those totally encouraging posts about wading through the murky waters of rejection, and you can all throw tomatoes at me.


Katy McKenna said...

Girlfriend, I am 56 years old. I recently read a writer comment that her career "probably wasn't over." She was feeling pretty depressed currently, though, and she was 2.5 DECADES younger than I am. So if she can feel discouraged, I think I'll go ahead along with you and feel woefully depressed for Just This One Day! :)

I do try to "rejoice with those who rejoice" when our friends in this business get publishing contracts---especially first contracts!---but I also try to commiserate with those who are hurting. There are plenty of us (most) who will never get published no matter how long we attempt it, and that's just the truth. (Eeek, do I sound like Debby Downer? Sorry, just the facts, Ma'am.)

One thing I do know: I will never regret all the wonderful friends I've made in the publishing community, and that includes YOU. When a contract finally comes through for you, I'll be shouting the news from the rooftops!

Wendy @ All in a Day's Thought said...

Truth is good.
Honesty is good.
Being human is good.
I don't know where in the ocean I am...I don't even have an agent yet. Maybe I'm on the shore waving at all the boats.

My gripe...b/c you said I could family members who just don't get it.

Ones who act like this is a passing fancy, when it burns inside me (okay, didn't mean to make that sound like any kind of weird infection).

Anyway, it's hard sometimes having this passion and knowing some of the people you are closest to don't get how hard it is, how difficult it will be and how much their support could mean.

Done for now. No more from me.
Whew that feels better.

Still waving on the beach--I'm on the beach...can't complain any more.

Catherine West said...

Katy, thank ya!! Ha. I know we're in the same boat somewhere on that vast sea, all I have to say it's a good thing we've got our lifevests on because sometimes I think it's easy to forget out to swim.

Wendy - I so know what you're feeling. Sometimes I liken my writing journey to my adoption journey. You can never quite 'get it' unless you've been there. And that's okay. I think you have to reach a point of acceptance with that. I know I had to. Look for the ways your family are supporting you and grab on to those, and try not to dwell on the fact that they just 'don't get it'. And maybe, just maybe, one day they will!

Jen said...

Who doesn't love a real human being with real emotions. Keep your chin up only holds so far, and sometimes you want to dwell on being defeated and talking about how sometimes you don't think things will get better, that's how it works.

Though I saw the warning of being in a happy mood, you didn't damper mine, it just further intrigued me.

Oh and I have no idea why wizards and serial killers make me want to buy books, maybe because they are unlike me, they get me out of the world that I find dull at times, at least I'm improving their sales :)

Katy McKenna said...

I should also add that this is a particularly suspect time for me to be leaving comments on blogs, or for me to be interacting with human beings in general, as I have been prescribed one of those medications (for the stabbing pain in my eye) that has as one of its side effects the possibility of "suicidal feelings," and DARNED if you haven't brought up a SENSITIVE subject here!!!! :)

So far, I don't believe I'm in danger of becoming a threat to myself (or to you, in case you were wondering), but you might watch me, just in case. These things can turn on a dime, especially for us creative types....Now, if only you can turn my head to happier thoughts, hmmmmmm????? :)

Gina Conroy said...

Oh wow! I could have written this on my blog. Wait, I have many times...even deleted some "too real" posts! Cathy, I'm so there with you and I noticed you have an agent. I do also, it's not the magic pill to publication, is it? Some days I wonder why I put myself through this, other days I just do it. Today is a just do it day.

jenness said...

You're not allowed to jump ship, because yes, you are on the ship, and I'm not going to let you get off, okay? You may be older, but I'm heavier. lol

P.S. Love the little sidenote to your hubby. :-)