Let's be honest.
This game can suck your soul dry.
There have been times when I've tried to pull myself out of it, just for a little while, when everything gets to be too overwhelming. When you meet someone who just tapped out the first draft of their novel five days ago, and now they have four agents clamoring to represent them. When a book you think yours could run circles around sells at auction two days after it goes out, and you're still waiting in the dugout. When you're starting your second draft and realizing half the stuff you've written will need to be cut and you're really not sure about the love interest's motivations. When you don't have the time or the money to go to writer's conferences, and the agents you tweet don't tweet you back, and nobody likes your query in Query Letter Hell, and every agent who reads a full "couldn't connect."
Times like these, I try to get away from everything. I stop reading the blogs, I take a break from whatever I'm writing, I try to remind myself that there's a world outside my computer screen.
It never really works. Love it or not--and most of the time I do--I'm entrenched in this world. There's no going back. And that isn't because I'm published. It's because--like, I'm guessing, a lot of you--I care too fucking much.
I read Pub Lunch every day because I have to know what's going out. I read Jacket Whys because I need to know what the cover trends are. And this part of the process, actually, has nothing to do with jealousy. It's driven completely by this hunger to know everything that's going on in publishing, because, when you get right down to the point, I love publishing. I spent last weekend in NYC meeting with my fabulous agent and editor and as many other people as I could get my dirty D.C. hands on, and it was undeniably one of the best weekends of my life. It's amazing to talk about something you know about and care about with people who know about it and care about it too.
It can wear you down if you don't feel like you're as good as everyone else. And let me say it, loud and clear--everyone feels like they're not as good as everyone else.
It doesn't matter where you are in the process. You will always think that someone is writing faster or better or getting more attention from their agent or going out to better editors or selling faster or getting a better cover or selling more copies.
Here's what I've found keeps you from getting gnawed down to nothing with the jealousy, fear, and guilt that seems to go hand in hand with writing.
Tell someone who isn't a writer.
When I was querying in high school, I had a few people ask me why the fuck I kept running to the computers like an addict between every class. So I explained querying to them, with a flow-chart. All paths lead to rejection--query, partial, full--except this one skinny path over here that leads to acceptance.
One kid said, "So any step of the way, someone can just hit the YOU SUCK button on you?"
So after that, we called it the "YOU SUCK" button. Every once in a while he'd asked me if anyone had hit the "YOU SUCK" button on me lately.
Usually they had, and he'd grumble and say "Those bastards! They must be crazy to reject you! You're amazing!"
Keep in mind, this kid had never read a thing that I'd written. For all he knew, I could have been horrible. But just the fact that I was out there writing and sending letters made me fantastic to him.
So go tell someone about the industry. Teach them about the process. Sit down with your husband or your girlfriend or your best friend or your mom or anyone who gives a shit about you but doesn't know anything about this and tell them what you're going through and listening to and praying for every day.
You will be shocked at how much they don't know about how publishing works.
And they will be shocked at how incredible you are for getting through this day after day.
My boyfriend and my roommate know very little about the books I'm actually writing, but they know a shitload about the publishing industry, thanks to me.
And thanks to that, they know I'm a star.
Thursday, May 27, 2010
Let's be honest.