We’re in one hell of a business, aren’t we? Every job, every career has it’s ups and downs, but I’ll leave those who are mired in theirs to communicate those woes. For me, it’s always been about writing. I’m sure my story’s like so many others–from the tender age of who-can-even-remember, it’s all I’ve ever wanted. The ability to touch, reach, and change people with my stories. Sensitive, shy little me, always buried in a book.
So I worked hard. I read every book I could get my hands on, studied the guidebooks of writing, forced myself into the disciplines. Like so many others, soldiered through NaNoWriMo. I honed my craft, and even today I’m still learning. I’m ALWAYS writing. My college years were spent jotting down stories between classes, and my spare moments stolen by my laptop, a pen and paper, and whatever story claimed control of my brain.
And then came submission time–and the ensuing rejections. There’s nothing quite so vulnerable as that first time throwing your work out there and receiving those emails. That your work isn’t good enough–and let’s face it guys, there’s a part in every one of us longing for that validation, even if it’s as simple as someone wanting to share your world for a moment. So I’d get shut down, take my open wounds, and learn from them. Countless hours spent in scouring blogs for tips, spent workshopping with friends, or in forums. As so many of us do.
Over time, you build the thicker skin–you grow more resilient to the blows. Query rejections? What ever! Try, rejections to your full. Try rejections to your manuscript when you sub it off to indie publishers. That’s when the nails pierce deeper, when the vital organs are hit, and some days, you wrap yourself in a blanket and hide away, too torn and tattered to face the world. Those are the darker times, and I don’t wish them on anyone–but I also know we all go through them. Get angry, get sad, get desperate–but get up. You keep getting up. And you keep writing.
For me, my first book was independently published, and I’ve gone that route through several others. Here’s the deal folks, publishing, whether it be with the big leagues or the little guys, isn’t the end. It’s not a Jane Austen novel where you’ve had your back and forth repartee and marriage is the big final ending. Any married couple will laugh at that novelty, because we all know it’s just the beginning of the work. Same goes with publishing. Get a book out and you don’t bask in the glow of a thousand suns.
The reality? Unless you’re one of the rare few who gets lucky on first strike–lands an agent, a book deal, and a mass following–it is hard, excruciating, and often defeating work. And you’re still fighting. Always fighting. One thing doesn’t change though–even with the heartbreak, even with the negative reviews, bad days, poor sales, rejections–we’re still writing. Most times it’s a tireless, thankless job, but it’s always there. The compulsion to write never leaves a writer. Maybe you take a break, maybe you spend some time apart, but it’s there, the words written in your bones, your DNA, in every strand and fiber of what makes you whole.
Bleak outlook, right? Anyone who knows me though can expect what’s coming next. I go through my emotional swings all the time, but at the end of the day, I can’t help but hope. I can’t help but dream and believe.
One thing we have through all of this is each other. We’ve got a community full of people WHO UNDERSTAND. Who get it. Who’ve been there. Others who have faced the rejections, who’ve faced bad reviews, who’ve been knocked down a thousand times and keep standing back up. We keep writing. So this is me, reaching out, in case you haven’t found your community yet. In case you haven’t found those folks who dust you up when you’re down, and understand what you’re going through.
Your struggle is valid–it’s real, and it’s tough. All the negativity and all the hurt can threaten the gentlest of souls, but don’t let it harden you. Don’t let it scare you away, make you quit, or make you snuff those dreams out. From that struggle, learn. Grow bolder, and stronger, until the world has to take you seriously. But for now, when the world is harsh, and it threatens to steal your summers away, take solace that you are understood. We’re here in the trenches with you.