Monday, March 26, 2012

I'm in the Dumps

I hate writers who complain. I talk a lot on my blog about how writing is the best thing in the world, we should be grateful we have the talent to do it, we knew what we were getting into when we started this, buck up and get back to work.

It’s a lot easier to preach optimism when you’re on top of the world, instead of in the dumps… which is where I am right now.

I blame my pessimistic mood on my new favorite website, “Book Pregnant.” It’s written by debut authors who talk about their experiences as they enter the world of publishing. I love reading about them seeing their book cover for the first time, getting their agents, etc. In fact, it’s exactly how I envisioned my blog when I started it a year and a half ago.

As much as I enjoy it, the site depresses me. When I read posts about getting agents, I think to myself, “That was supposed to happen to me when I started querying a year and a half ago.” When I read about getting editors, I think, “That was supposed to happen to me a year ago.” When I read about book launches, I think, “That was supposed to happen to me six months ago.”

Then there’s the worst of all: When I read about book signings and tours,  I think to myself, “That should be happening to me right now.

My biggest problem is an irrational sense of entitlement. I’m “supposed” to get published when I have the skills I need to write a good book. I do not have those skills yet. Ergo, here I am.

A voice in my head keeps telling me the same thing: “What are you so peeved about? You’re the one who decided to rewrite your book. You’re the one who needs to work on your craft. Every writer goes through this. Who are you mad at? Agents, the world, or yourself?”

I remember one time I came back from roller derby practice depressed because I wasn’t improving as fast as I thought I should be. My first practice was my first time putting on skates, so I was way behind the other girls. My husband told me I was too much of a perfectionist.

Me?!” I asked. I have never once in my life been called a perfectionist. I’m one of those just-get-it-done people. “I am not a perfectionist!” I said.

“You are with things you care about. You put too high expectations on yourself.”

Maybe he’s right. Maybe I need to relax. But it was a proud moment when my roller derby team gave me the award for Most Improved Player of the Year.

There’s nothing wrong with me being disappointed in myself for a while, but when it comes to my book, I’m going to tell myself the same thing I would tell any writer in my situation:

Buck up. Get back to work.

17 comments:

  1. *hugs* I'm sorry you're down right now. I think all of us hit those moments every once in a while, and I think it's okay to let ourselves feel it for a bit. I think you've got a great attitude though-- buck up, and keep working! Even if it doesn't happen when you want it, if you keep working had, it will happen!

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  2. Teralyn:

    I truly sympathize. I have four unpublished novels gathering dust. I went through a horrible depression and someone suggested I start writing a blog. I don't offer advice and I don't bitch and moan; I just take the opportunity to share my stories with folks. The immediate feedback is such an ego boost. You don't waste time waiting for agents to reject you. You ARE a good writer, so post stories for us to read.

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  3. I know exactly what you're going through! I was in the dumps last week and couldn't get out of it. Although depressing, the dumps make us face what we need to work on and how to improve to get out of that horrible place. Good luck and I hope you're floating on good feelings soon :)

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  4. It's hard when you read other people's success, but instead of being depressed by it, use it to spur you on.

    I don't think there's anything wrong with being perfectionist. I was talking to a writer the other day. She was saying she writes her books in about six weeks and sends them to her publisher.

    I said I couldn't do that, that I take a long time just to work out whether that comma should be here or there.

    She said... (and I gasped in horror), "That's what editors are for."

    Nooooooo, that's what I, as a writer, am for!

    I just thought that helped illustrate all writers are different - if you have perfectionist tendancies, it'll take a bit longer, but there'll be less work to do between acceptance and publication! There's a happy song on my blog today, if that'll help.

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  5. Being down in the dumps. Natural course to things when we aren't where we envisioned ourselves to be.

    First step done. You've acknowledged this.

    Next step done. You worked out the issue.

    Last step done. Personal reminder to buck up and work through it.

    You've gone through all the steps to this issue and by golly, before long, you'll have the posts that you want popping up on your blog, i.e. agent attainment and the like.

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  6. You totally have those skills. There's just a lengthy process and you're in that process. And the end of the process is...being where you want to be! It's going to be fantastic! I believe in you! :)

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  7. It stinks being down in the dumps - but it probably happens to everyone. Try to just focus on the very next thing you want to do - the very next step. Taking the eye off the long goal for a while might help :)

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  8. Writing is a lonely business. Sometimes the lightning hits. More often, it does not. The publishing industry is going through rough times economically and evolving in unpredictable ways. If you write something original, it may be rejected because the money people in publishing want to be certain of a hit. So that is why you see so many takes on TWILIGHT and THE HUNGER GAMES.

    Persistence will pay off if only in the self-respected you earn from not giving up, Roland

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  9. Yes to what everyone has said, and a thought. I've found it useful to work on some short form stuff as well, short stories, picture book texts, even poems, and start sending them out to the universe. Sometimes, that dejection can seem especially overwhelming when you're dealing with larger projects like novels. Every revision just naturally takes a longer time, so every rejection and setback can seem bigger. The short forms give y a more manageable task to face when youre dejected.

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  10. Interesting. . .I will tell my fellow Book Preggos that we need to exhibit more of our angst and stress. God knows we have plenty of both. I think, like you, we are just loathe to complain publicly.

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  11. Sophie, you're so funny. Any job, be it writing or delivering the mail, or being a NICU nurse (which I am in my non-writer life) has its share of frustrations. Take a 12 hour shift with no breaks because you're too busy trying to feed babies or just plain trying to keep keep one alive. It's not always fun. Somedays it really sucks. But then a baby gets off a ventilator. He takes his first bottle. His mother holds him. The baby gets into his car seat and he goes home (not all in one day). But then it is glorious. Sure we have to be perfectionists. And when we beat ourselves for our flaws it is counter-productive. But isn't it glorious when our book hooks an agent? When it hooks an editor? When it (best of all) hooks a reader?

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  12. Hi Teralyn! Another Book Pregnant author here. :) I agree with Sophie. Trust me when I say, we've all been where you are and STILL find ourselves there at times. If it helps, it took me two years to find my agent. All those rejections were painful! I'd rewritten the second half of my novel twice and was about to give up and self-publish. Then I decided to try one more query letter. Thank God I did. Like Marcille said, we all have to go through a lot of hard times before we see those glorious results. So hang in there!

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  13. Thanks, everybody! (And welcome to the Book Preggos who are visiting.) You guys always make me feel better when I'm down.

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  14. Hey Teralyn,
    I'm a Book Pregger, too and it has taken me 20 years to get here....years where an agent (not my current) dropped me a week before Christmas, a small press took my book but then went belly-up before my book could be printed and on and on. What I finally came to was, I am a writer--it's what I was put on the planet to do (among some other stuff). Therefore, I will write. And I will keep writing and writing until I draw my last breath--it's part of my deepest self. Yes, publication is lovely but it's not all roses either. With each step on the path, new problems/opportunities appear. It's just life, the writing life. Hope your mood lifts :) Oh, this is Anne Barnhill, AT THE MERCY OF THE QUEEN. I always sign the anon button because I'm technically challenged :)

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  15. I feel for you. It's taken several years (more than I care to admit) and lots of revisions (I've lost count) to get published. In February, I signed a contact with Fireship Press, a small press, to publish my debut novel, THE CROSS AND THE DRAGON.

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  16. Don't beat yourself up. Try http://www.clickok.co.uk/index4.html which is great for outlining and understanding hero's journey.

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  17. Another book pregger dropping in... I had a gestational period of ten years do trust me, I know exactly where you're at with the low feelings!

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