Before I was published, I had so much fun writing. It was the excitement of it all, the hope for a contract, the endless possibilities of what could happen if I applied myself. The sky was the limit, the options boundless.
Submitting and actually getting into the biz can be a sobering experience. What you thought was a perfect manuscript is returned to you with thousands of red marks from your editor. You finally get your first honest feedback about your story that isn’t endless praise from friends and family. And sometimes, those reviewers, especially the snarky ones, can really hurt a blossoming author. Well, her feelings, anyway. It’s a hard lesson to learn, to disconnect your personal feelings about your creation from the review.
But once you get accepted at a publishing house, you again feel invincible, and you write more and more.
Until, that is, writing begins to feel like a chore.
At some point, after a few years of promotion and chats and public appearances, your writing feels more like a job and less like a hobby. You do a lot of work that doesn’t necessarily involve WRITING. Promotion is a necessary evil to sell books, and no one is going to do it for you (unless you throw money at a publicist).
But there’s the rub. Unless you’ve got goo-gobs of books and a massive following, you aren’t going to make much money in ePublishing. But those popular authors did much more than promote their asses off, they wrote kick-ass stories.
Endless promotion, minimal $$ for maximum effort, and tiring appearances where nobody shows is quite wearing on an author. Believe me, I know. After I had my baby Sophie, I seriously asked myself The Question.
Do I want to continue to be an author?
I had one more book contracted (KINDRED). I’d promised my fans a fourth book to the BEAST series. But after that? Was it worth it anymore? I couldn’t find time to write. One of my daughters is struggling in school, so I had to rethink how to teach her. On top of it all was a newborn baby. A messy house. Endless ironing. Writing was just another “chore”.
But where had that spark gone? Where was the excitement? The almost “It’s Christmas Morning!” mentality? When did I lose that along the way and become a jaded, cynical author?
When I examined my true feelings behind my writing, I realized that must be why I couldn’t write a word for MONTHS. I was tired of promotion. Tired of piddly royalty checks. Tired of booksignings where I’m signing books for fellow authors at the signing with me. Where were these elusive “readers”? Sure, authors are avid readers too, I should have been thankful. But I wasn’t.
My pride had gotten in the way, you see. I felt I “deserved” more.
Once I had that epiphany, I realized why I wasn’t writing. Why I no longer had the passion. I’d allowed my pride to get in the way of my imagination, thus blocking my muse from writing anything more than a blog post, a text, or a tweet. THIS is the reason certain authors turn into Divas. The mentality that the world owes them for writing their stories.
Oh my Gawd, was I turning into a DIVA?!? Not exactly, but I guess I was on that path. So I knocked some sense into myself.
For my entire life, I’ve written stories for my own entertainment. They were my means of escape, of traveling to exotic locales, of meeting new, exciting people. Being in control of what happens to my characters was thrilling for me, because I knew no matter what I threw at them, they’d eventually have a happily ever after. The emotion and the angst, THAT’S what I loved the most, not the promotion, not the appearances, not even the royalties. If you’re good enough, your story can transcend all that material bullshit (pardon my French).
When I realized that wisdom, I let go of my pride and allowed my muse to go where she would, without inhibitions, without expectations. Since I’ve “released” her, I’ve written two stories, finished one that had been eluding me for two years, and started another, of which I’m already fast on my way to page 100, and this all within a SIX WEEK timeframe. For those keeping score, that’s two novellas, one short story, and one full-length novel. I’ve scheduled in my writing time during the day, after chores and school, between 3pm and dinnertime. Nowadays, I get frustrated when I’ve got to stop my train of thought to feed the family. I’m constantly plotting, bouncing ideas off my crit partner (Donica Covey) and finally getting into that groove I used to be in when the “world” was new.
Writing is fun again. Why? Because it isn’t about the hype, the fame, the money, or the entitlement. It’s about the STORY, something Samhain Publishing* knew all along.
*”It’s All About The Story” is Samhain’s company motto.