Wednesday, July 31, 2013

What Sucks About Being a Writer

I'm not talking about the hard work of writing. Writing itself has its frustrations and difficulties, like any job, but I'm not talking about the putting of words on a page.

I'm talking about being a writer... being in this business of publishing. If you ask around, I think most writers would say the rejection is about the worst aspect, and I wouldn't disagree that rejection stinks. No one likes to have someone say no to them. But before the no, there has to be the asking, and that is what I hate the most.

The begging.

Let's face it, that's what it is. We beg agents to take a look at a manuscript. Beg literary magazine to deem our work worthy of page space. Beg publishers to offer contracts, beg reviewers to take the time to read and rate our work. We beg fellow bloggers to participate in blog tours, beg fellow authors to blurb us and tout us. We beg fellow writers to read and critique our novels, even when we know how precious their time is and how much time it takes to do that. We beg friends and family to buy our books, to spread the word, to give us stars on Amazon.

Some people have PR to do that work, but there is still begging done on the part of the author, and that reflects on them.

It's as though we are standing in the midst of a swirling storm of talent asking others to find us worthy.

Maybe this sounds melodramatic. Some of you love the marketing aspect of publishing. Some of you are really good at it. I am not. I think it's because I always know there is someone out there with a better plot, with a more poetic way of writing. There are so many great writers, great books out there; who am I to say, "Pick me!"?

A friend of mine has just published a book. I found out that a mutual author friend is feeling a bit badgered by her PR, to read, to blurb, to promote. He doesn't have the time to do that, and he resents the pressure to be her cheerleader when they aren't really great friends, when he doesn't love the book, when he himself is overwhelmed by deadlines. I feel for him. But I feel for her, too. I know how hard it is to get a book out there.
I actually don't mind the rejection (when it's polite, of course, because no one feels good about getting torn apart for what they do!). I don't mind someone saying, "This just isn't for me."  I get that. We don't all have the same taste in reading, and if someone doesn't like the way I write, doesn't like my topics or my characters, I'm okay with that.

It's the asking I hate, the way it makes me look desperate to be loved and accepted, as though having someone say "yes" to my writing is the only thing that validates it.

There's no way to get around this, of course. We write to be read, and we can't be read unless people know it's there to read.

The first obstacle, of course, is to having something for people to read. :)  In that endeavor, off I go to write.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

The Way It Feels to Walk

That's my smiling mug. Cap and hood and crazy-armed gown. Officially done.

I'm so glad I made it to the official graduating ceremonies. At the end of January, my thesis done, my diploma in the mail, I felt like the program was over. I'd done everything I needed to do. But the last six months have felt a bit aimless, and I think part of me was worried I'd have trouble separating from college life, the way I did when I "graduated" undergrad but never walked across the stage.

But arriving on campus for the last days of residency with the other flood of January grads, and I felt like I was done. There's a sense of completion I needed here, to know I don't belong on that campus anymore, at least as a student.

I also loved the invigorating feeling about being around writers still excited about writing, about that community that is so alive it is like a visceral buzz that resonates through my whole body. I sat through a few craft talks and readings, and I suddenly wanted to write again. Better yet, I was suddenly able to throw off all those voices in my head and just write. Just me. My own voice again. Only better. The voice that is purely me, but all the great things I learned somehow seamlessly incorporated. If I was wandering, I have found my road again.