Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Getting Discouraged

Travener left a comment on my Google Reader Roundup a few weeks ago about the depressing post by the Del Rey editor who listed all her reasons for rejection (in sum, everything). Roni posted a few weeks ago about feeling like a hack. Meghan Ward posted about the financial investment she's made in her writing career--without yet being published.

It's a sad, dark world out there. So why do we sacrifice all the blood and sweat and tears, alienate our families, and eschew Gray's Anatomy (ok fine, I record it and watch it later, because I'd rather be writing at 9 PM on Thursday nights) in order to write something that may never be published, and if it's published, may never please people? And from which we want to retire after many years?

Well, we love it. Although tell that to Sue Grafton.

To succeed, says the blogger who writes A Newbie's Publishing Industry Guide, the number one thing to have is luck. The blogger says that he/she has never determined what luck is. I will tell you what it is. Luck = preparation + opportunity.

So you keep at it. Learn. Never think you know all there is to know. Prepare and then look for opportunities. This is what many agents who blog indicate how their attention is swayed when they're reading a query. Prepare yourself appropriately by writing well, having a plot, working hard, knowing the business, knowing how to query, knowing what to expect, and knowing how to behave yourself. Then, the right agent at the right time (opportunity) will see you. This is why you query widely. You have to.

It's easy to despair because writing is emotional. We work so dang hard for something that could be tossed aside so easily. Writers are not well paid (unless mega bestsellers). Writers have to sacrifice so much. But it's like any other art form that consumes us. Words are just our medium.
Imagine life without writing.

Do you get discouraged? How often? Why do you keep at it?


Lynnette Labelle said...

Every once in a while I'm frustrated at how long the process is taking. This is my third version of the story (and final one). I must admit, I love this version better than the other two, but that's a lot of writing without anything to show for it. Now, I'm kind of kicking myself for announcing to the world that I'm writing a book because people in my community ask how it's coming along and I cringe. I think I'm at 18%. Ugh. Oh, well. It'll happen when it's meant to happen.

Lynnette Labelle

Travener said...

Yes, I get discouraged. I go up, I go down. Why do I care? I don't know; it's just something I have to do.

Julie Dao said...

I don't think it's possible to be a writer without getting discouraged. Those of us who push through the tough times do so because we love to write. Publication may never happen; it's the slim chance that it will that's encouraging.

Lt. Cccyxx said...

In my mind there is a dichotomy between the writing and the publishing (or attempts to publish). It's not a complete separation, but surely time spent reading agent blogs or sending queries rarely improves one's writing. Conversely, if I'm so busy writing amazing stuff that I never find the time to look up agent addresses, I will never be published. I bring this up because I might get discouraged if I have writer's block, or I might get discouraged because no one's requesting a partial, but those are two very different types of discouragement. I write because I feel like I have to - I'd be unhappy if I didn't. It's a challenging, intellectual, and creative endeavor that gives me greater pleasure than any other I can think of. I try to publish because I want to...but that can change, and if trying to publish becomes a source of unhappiness, I can take a break or even quit entirely. (Thus far the actual process of trying to get published has given me no pleasure whatsoever.) Given the financial realities you've laid out, writing/publishing for a living is extremely unlikely to happen, even if the publishing part is a success. So I just try to remember there are two pieces, albeit interconnected to a degree. It's easier said than done, though.

Sierra Godfrey said...

Great point, Lt., and thanks for your thoughts here. Writing and publishing are two separate pursuits. I look at publishing as a business that must be conducted as such.

Amber Tidd Murphy said...

L = P + O.

Thanks, Sierra... for giving me a new mantra.


Mike Chen said...

Back when I did theatre (re, not er), I had a monologue that included the line, "(Carl) Jung says there's no such thing as luck, only what you make."

I started to subscribe to that idea a long time ago.

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