Sunday, September 5, 2010

Ode to Aspiring Writers

I have to say, sometimes it sucks to be a writer.

Let me clarify.

Sometimes, when you realize who you are (a person who writes books), and what you are doing (trying to get published), and that you could not stop even if you wanted to, AND THAT IT IS REALLY EFFING kind of sucks.


Unless you realize you are not alone.

I was just pondering what we do, we pre-published writers. (It's really an insane thing, when you think about it.) First, we discover that we have a story to tell, and we decide we want to tell it. So we think for a while, and try to work out the best way to go about it. We name characters, we outline detailed plot charts, we develop character-arcs, we undertake the mind-boggling task of getting to know PEOPLE WHO DO NOT EXIST. We invent worlds.

We string together words to make sentences and paragraphs and pages and chapters. We watch the words fight, and then we sweat and bleed to make them dance, instead. We battle with our characters to get them to cooperate with our plans. We cry when we realize we are morons. We laugh in the shower and in public places when we understand we are also geniuses. We revise. Rewrite. Polish. Cut out our hearts and give the story to someone else to read.

We revise. Rewrite. Polish.

Usually seized by some unforeseen fit of madness, we draft one of those infamous and horrifying things called a Query Letter. This we send to a select list of elusive Demigods called Literary Agents. We spend days, weeks, sometimes months waiting in a prolonged state of anxiety, experiencing both crippling doubt and wild hope. When we log on to our email or check the mailbox, it is with such terror and pulse-pounding that we begin to fear a loss of hair, or an ulcer.

We get replies. They include nasty words like, "unfortunately," and "subjective", and "however." We cry, we mope, we consider giving up. (And for some sick, unfathomable reason, we save our rejection letters.) Then...

We revise. Rewrite. Polish.

We resubmit. We begin to wonder about things like sanity, and careers in Postal work. We get rejected some more.

Eventually, though, good things begin to happen. Like requests for partial manuscripts, and further requests for full manuscripts. Sometimes, these requests are made by agents we REALLY REALLY love. We walk around in a starry daze. We get rejected.

We revise. Rewrite. Polish.

It is insane, what we do. Because, at this point, the only reason IN THE WORLD we are doing it is because we believe in ourselves, and in our stories. Nobody's paying us. In fact, we're sacrificing a lot in order to do it. We're carving out chunks of time in obscure places, giving up sleep, omitting the extra fun stuff that normal people take for granted. And sometimes, it can feel endless and hopeless.

But that's where not being alone comes in.

So, listen: I believe in us. I believe in YOU, writer. No matter how many people wave their print-on-demand books in your face and say publishing is easy, no matter how many relatives and acquaintances smirk when they ask about your "little hobby," no matter how many times you have to answer doubtful questions after someone asks what you do for a living... I believe in you, and I believe in what you do.

And I believe that someday, all this determination and hard work will pay off. Keep writing.

Any thoughts? Anything getting you down in your journey lately? Or maybe making you hopeful? Share!


  1. This is an amazing post! Thank you for posting it, and you are very right- we have a great community of fellow writers surrounding us!

  2. Ditto, amazing post! I quoted you on Twitter...hee hee. I'm glad you're pulling back up after that rejection. Just keep swimming, just keep'll get there someday.

  3. We are sailing the same waters. :)

  4. Monday just got considerably better. For that, I thank you. :) Write on sister!

  5. Summer: Thank you! It's great to be surrounded (even electronically) by so many awesome people who know exactly what we're going through.

    Amie: Thanks, dearie. I love that you quoted me! :) And isn't it true that what doesn't kill you makes you stronger? I guess people are pretty dang strong by the time they sign with a publisher.

    Glynis: Aren't they rough waters sometimes? :) Well, at least we can sail alongside other boats, and bail them out when they start to get swamped. Thanks for following!

    Artemis: Thanks! I'm so glad to have helped. Hang in there and keep plugging along. Determination is mightier than the rejection slip!

  6. I came back and read the entire thing again... and it helped... again... :) I'll probably be back later...

  7. Each process comes with the up's and down's and I suppose I would say that I wouldn't change it for the world.

    Lately I've been revising and it's tough, I don't like what I'm writing, but I find the beginning to be a lot harder after it's all written. I know when I get it right everything else will flow. It's just the way things go.

  8. Indeed. We are not alone. :)
    Lovely post.
    Lovely blog.