Monday, May 21, 2012

Weird, maybe. Lucky, definitely.

Writers are weird. I've even heard them called crazy, and maybe that's fair.

I'd argue we're working in one of the few fields where you can put more of yourself into your work than you ever thought possible, demonstrate more dedication than you ever believed you had, believe in yourself more than you've ever done in your life, and still not find success.

At least not right away.

I recently heard award-winning author Margaret McMullan (link) speak. She said something that struck me, and I think you might like it. Here it go (roughly):

"Conflict is something we avoid in life, but we collect as writers. You might be having the worst year of your life. Use it."

I noted that first because it's true. But also because life as a writer is so emotionally challenging. I guess that means we have lots of material from which to draw. (?) For example...

Source
Maybe you're writing your first novel. You've got a full-time job, a family, responsibilities, but you get up every night for months until that book is done.

You do everything right. You find beta readers and critique partners, you revise and polish, you write a great query. And every agent passes.

Maybe you get a Revise & Resubmit request from a Dream Agent. With a nauseous stomach and trembling hands, you hunker down and make the requested revisions. You get feedback from your betas/critters, you get it all bright and shiny and polished and ready to go back. And Dream Agent passes.

Or maybe you land Dream Agent. S/he is so in love with your book, s/he's raving about iPad apps and movie deals. You have visions of your baby going to auction and publishers fighting over you, waving incredible advances and sales projections. You send it out and spend six sleepless weeks (or months) waiting to hear something. And every editor passes.

Maybe you get a major deal. You're given a huge advance, much of which depends on your ability to move a certain number of copies. Maybe a fellow writer reads your book. S/he has written something in the same genre (or not) and is bitter or jealous because you got a major deal and s/he was rejected.

This writer crafts a scathing, unfair review and posts it on Goodreads declaring your book garbage and gets all his/her friends to give it the thumbs up so it's the first thing potential buyers see when they look up your title.

Or maybe your book's picked up by a small publisher. It has a fantastic launch and is selling well on all the online outlets. You do all your promotional materials, bookmarks, etc., then you get an email saying small publisher is going out of business. In 24 hours, your baby will disappear from the stores. You're facing weeks to get it back online, losing buyers and possibly even momentum.

What do you do?

I guess McMullan would say "Use it." It's good advice, but in the moment, it's not always super encouraging to think, "This could be my bestselling novel one day."

Back when I was querying, I used to joke about hiding under my desk. That's one option.

Another is to shoot an email to Tami, Carolyn, Matt, Jessica, Susan, DL, Tracy, Sheri, Janet, Katie, Stina, Theresa, Lydia, Sarah, Jen, Anne, Jeannie, Anita, Lisa Anne, Elle, PK, Michael, RaShelle, Shannon, Me...

I had to stop naming names because of space requirements. The point is we've all been there. The examples above are all real, and yet somehow we've all made it through these times and made it to better places. Or heck, we've made it.

We're so lucky to have this group. I know I say that a lot, but I feel so lucky to have you. I've yet to meet another set of writers in real life that compares to this blogging community.

So yes, maybe I'm weird, but I know that if I'm losing it, all I have to do is reach out and help is just an email away. I hope you feel the same about me.

And while we're reaching, check out Elle Strauss's brand new book! I haven't read it yet, but it sounds supercute. Here's the cover and jacket blurb:

Adeline doesn't feel she belongs in her own time, but can bad boys from the past be trusted?

Adeline Savoy had hoped that the move west from Cambridge to Hollywood with her single dad would mean they’d finally bond like a real family, but all she got was a father too busy with his new female friends and his passion for acting to really see her.

Instead she finds herself getting attached to Faye, the divorcee hair dresser she befriends when she travels back in time to 1955. Faye has a hottie, James Dean-esque, bad-boy brother who has Adeline’s heart all aflutter, but bad boys from the past can be dangerous. Is it possible that Adeline really does belong in her own time and that maybe the right boy lives as close as next door?

LIKE CLOCKWORK is available now at Amazon (link) and Smashwords (link).

Have a great week, reader- and writer-friends~ <3

41 comments:

Jessica Bell said...

Aw sweetie, now you've got me teary! Yes, I DO feel that way about you, plus a trillion times more. I'm so glad you are in my life, and I really can NOT wait until we meet face to face. I think the woes of being a writer are NEVER ENDING. And with every couple of steps forward, we're always going to experience a step backward in the process. Writer careers move slowly. Two steps forward, one step back, three steps forward, two steps back. Get my drift? I think as long as we just stick together and keep offering each other support, we will all get through (even if we do become crazier and crazier by day!) xoxo

Sarah said...

I love this post--it really shows that you've never got it made, so you'd better make the best of what you have at every step. Use it, cope with it, make friends, and try not to get bogged down by it! And yes, help, encouragement, advice, and sympathy is only an email or tweet away!

Laura Pauling said...

Every hurdle can be a fight in this journey. We all need our writers friends to get through it!

Dianne K. Salerni said...

This is a wonderful post, Leigh! Many of those scenarios have happened to me or someone I know. And thank heavens for all those people you named and more. Yes, family is supportive, but only other writers *understand* and feel the same pain you do.

What did writers (and other artists) do in the days before the internet? Suffer in silence and isolation? (Historic record would suggest many of them drank heavily or succumbed to various drugs, huh? Van Gogh cut off an ear. Yeah, thank heavens for the internet.)

Old Kitty said...

I like hiding under my desk! LOL!! But guess I can only do so for so long!! Yay for such a circle of support!! Wonderful! Take care
x

SA Larsenッ said...

This post gave me jitters, tingles, and hope. I so need it today. I began subbing last week...but only a little. I need to just send, send, send. ;D

Our writing community is like no community I've ever encountered. We are there for each other no matter what. That sound security is vital fuel to keep most of us writing. I know it is for me. And to be included in your list (although there are many more...), makes it even that more heartfelt. Love this post!

Natalie Aguirre said...

You've nailed all the hurdles and they don't stop sadly when you get an agent or get published as you point out. It's definitely important to have writer friends to support you along the way.

Creepy Query Girl said...

Looks like we were on the same wavelength this morning. Those wildly successful writers dealing out advice and making us think and put things in perspective! Honestly, I don't know what I would do without all of you. I sometimes wonder if I'd still even be in the game:)

Carole Anne Carr said...

Yes we all feel the same, just keep reaching out!

Talli Roland said...

What a great post, and so SO true. I don't often (okay, very rarely) talk about the negative going on in my book life because I want to be positive, but EVERY writer faces tough decisions and obstacles, whether it's internal or external. Having a support system is not just valuable - it's survival!

vic caswell (aspiring-x) said...

can i just leave an amen?

Carolyn Abiad said...

Every day in this business is a challenge, that's true. Thanks for helping us all pull through it. <3

PS. You always manage to post something encouraging when I need it the most, so we must have some kind of connection beyond the words on this page.

Still waiting on answers here...

Meredith said...

So, so true. This writing business can be disheartening, but there's such a great community to support you!

Amy Saia said...

This is so true. People think that if you have a contract or an agent that things are automatically going to be okay. They're not always okay, and it's nice to know we can come together in the pursuit of our dreams.

Summer Ross said...

I agree, this writing blog community is one of the best groups of people I have had the pleasure of getting to know. I may not know many of them in person, but there is such a supportive group online. Great post!

Elle Strauss said...

Yes, everything you said is true. I couldn't have made it this far without the online community.

Thanks so much for mentioning my book. <3 ya.

Chris Fries said...

Fabulous post, Leigh!

Thank you so much for your words of wisdom, encouragement, camaraderie, and support. As a struggling newbie writer, I really appreciate it!!!

Clarissa Draper said...

How true your words. Now that my book has come out, I'm going through all those emotions. I thought I would be relieved but no, still stressful.

lbdiamond said...

Such an inspiring post!!!!!

Janet Johnson said...

Elle's book sounds way cute! And I was really hoping that at least the bitter jealous review was an imagined example. That makes me sad!

But amen about the blogging community. It's why I stick around even when time is short. And thank YOU for being one of those people I can turn to. :)

Matthew MacNish said...

I thought this was going to be a bunch of awesome links, but now you're making me recall what we were discussing ... was it on Friday?

DEZMOND said...

it's nice when people are supporting each other

M Pax said...

It's great advice. I went through a rough year before this one. I took notes and someday I'll use it. When it's not so fresh ...

The blogosphere is just awesome. The support makes me so happy some days. It makes all the lumps and bumps disappear.

LTM said...

@Amy--it's been my experience that we need each other every step of the way. I've heard feedback saying writer friends seem to drop off once an agent's secured or once a book deal's gotten. That isn't the case here. :o) <3

@Summer--you are so right. We've been here from the beginning~ :o) <3

@Chris--Thanks, man! Yep, the beginning's tough. But it's just preparation. LOL! :D

@LBD--Thanks, hon~ <3

DL Hammons said...

This speaks to me on SO MANY different levels! First, I'm honored to be included in your list with all of the other wonderful writers, just being able to rub shoulders with all of you makes it all worth it! But I also take seriously the suggestion you make...I will gladly converse with anybody struggling with the predictable doubts!

I owe you one huge HUG! We will meet someday, and I will collect!! :)

Kelly Polark said...

So many obstacles, so many different rewards. One of the biggest rewards of writing is this close knit writing community!

Kari Marie White said...

So my new mantra should be "Just Use It!"

You are right though. This writing community rocks. Bad writing days inevitably end up with me online connecting with the folks who know how to uplift and support like only this community knows how to do.

Writing is isolating at times, but online buddies are what keep me together.

Melissa Sugar said...

Such a warm, heartfelt, and inspirational post. I am so glad I made my way to your blog today because I have been feeling really down and it is affecting my writing . This is just the sort of pep talk I needed. Thank you. I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to get to know so many of you. I really don't know how writers managed before the advent of the internet and social media,

walk2write said...

I've been reading and trying to catch up on your posts. Every one of them confirms what I already suspected. You're the most encouraging blogger I know. If someone reads this post and doesn't get a soul-lift, then the soul must be missing.

Hart Johnson said...

It really IS so crazy, isn't it? We are ALL nuts. You know... in rats, the surest way to guarantee a behavior is random and sporadic reinforcement, and that is exactly what this does... I mean it isn't random. But we work so hard at EVERYTHING that it can FEEL really random. And the positive reinforcement DOES get closer together as we learn, virtually guaranteeing we will stay engaged once we start hitting it now and then. Just call me Whiskers.

Congrats to Elle on her book!

Ella said...

Thanks Leigh, it does feel like a marathon, but one worth being part of~
Yeah, I hear that word weird, a lot, lol

Yes, Congrats to Elle! <3 555

Stephen Tremp said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Stephen Tremp said...

Congrats! to Adeline and best wishes to her and Like Clockwork!

Michael Di Gesu said...

Hi, LB,

Thanks... I REALLY needed to read this post today.

Having one of those several months... AND you are so right. This community is AMAZING!

I can use an LB hug. I should be leaving Florida within the next three weeks and I will be sailing through Indy... I hope you will be around.

Miss you and think of you often.

BB

Angela Ackerman said...

It's funny--when I started writing, I felt like it was a solitary thing. Me, alone. Something I would do.

Now, I can't imagine being back in that head space. We are all connected, and I believe we succeed together, not alone. :) Great post!

Angela

Amy L. Sonnichsen said...

Very good advice. I am determined to be content where I am at this moment in the publishing journey. It's hard some days when I just really, really want that phone to ring, but we have to count our blessings and remember the next step up will hold its challenges and stresses, too. And it's always nice to know the writing community has our backs! :)

Pk Hrezo said...

Aw, thank you for that lovely mention. Really and truly, you're all what keeps me going. It's just as bittersweet as you describe... non-writers could never understand what we subject ourselves to. But you know, I love how you turn it around and say USE IT. That's the beauty of it. We can turn our torment into art, and that's a beautiful thing.
THanks for the inspiring words. :)

Susan Kaye Quinn said...

It IS hard, darnit, and I'm not so keen on living it in order to write it either! LOL But it is sage advice, and you are so right: this community is AWESOME.

p.s. I love Elle's cover! Just perfect.

Amber Argyle, author said...

Yes. I'm wierd. Maybe even crazy.

RaShelle Workman said...

Elle's cover is adorable. I love it.

Writing is hard. Editing is harder. It's still fun though. LOL. Great post, Leigh. Hope you're having a great weekend.

Jolene Perry said...

OR - when the editor get back to you and says I LOVE your book, I'd LOVE to work with you, I'm going to take it to the board at X publishing house (where you'd love to see your book go) and the pub house says - not commercial enough, or too dark, or no place for that in our schedule right now...

There are so many millions of ways to get passes...

But yes. Use it and move on.