Sunday, January 25, 2009

Labor of Love or Self Inflicted Torture?

For months I've been thinking that I must be developing masochistic tendencies.  I mean, who in their right mind would set themselves up for a continuous onslaught of rejection?

I've been writing since I was eighteen which is a fact that very few people know about me.  I'd start something with high hopes and a bright outlook, and by about page sixty-five the pages would go by the wayside.  Months or even a year or two would pass and I'd start again with a new idea and a renewed sense of self-esteem only to fall to the same insecurities.

It was not until last April, about a month before my thirty-fourth birthday, that I really dug my heels in.  I have to say that my aunt (Nancy) was the driving force behind my new found determination.  She loves books; period.  Reading is her passion and her enthusiasm was contagious.  "Wouldn't it be great?" she asked me one day after she'd finished a book that she was particularly excited about.  "Can you imagine how amazing it would be to write a book?"

Yeah, I can, I thought.  It had been my secret dream for almost two decades.  Of course  I can imagine how amazing it would be, I do it all the time.  That's what pushed me off the cliff.  Her sheer joy of the written word echoed my own.  I'm going to do it, I said to myself.    

An idea had been forming in my head for months.  I've probably formed a thousand or more such thoughts before, but something was different this time.  I was different.  I wasn't going to talk myself out of anything.  I wouldn't quit because the story wasn't fully formed in my brain from start to finish and I refused to listen to the nagging doubt that plagued me.  I took my idea and I ran with it.

 What started as a two or three page a day habit soon turned into a twenty page a day addiction.  I couldn't stop.  I didn't take advantage of the spring air and I threw dinner together at the last minute.  I barely ate, and I rarely slept.  I had become a total stranger to my family.  I was possessed.  The story was tumbling from my fingers.  It's not supposed to be this easy; but everything I needed was there: the backdrop, the players, the plot.  Conversations between characters occupied all of the free space in my mind and I researched my story with something I hadn't had before; conviction.

It only took three months to write my first novel.  Wow!  Can I actually say that?  My first novel.  Was I entitled to say it?  I laughed, I cried, I danced around my kitchen.  The accomplishment of finally finishing what I started was like a drug.  I dove into the revisions and edits with fervor and when I'd finally decided it was ready, I started to research exactly how I could get my story bound between two beautiful pieces of cardboard with a shiny dust-jacket cover.

Enter depression.  I had no idea that statistics could be so damaging to one's outlook.   I tried to ignore them but its hard when almost every rejection letter you receive dangles those evil numbers in front of your face.  

The publishing process is a dance not suited for the uncoordinated.  Follow the steps and you might be rewarded.  If you don't, expect to get your foot stepped on.  I queried my novel for three months and received so many "thanks but no thanks" that it was almost painful to check my e-mail every day.  The nagging voice that I'd tucked away during the writing process had reared its ugly head.  You're not good enough.  It was so disheartening.  

I read an article about how writers deal with rejection and the best advice:  KEEP WRITING!  So I did.  My story needed a sequel, so I jumped back in to the pool head first and my spirits picked up for a while.  I talked to my friends and family and let them encourage me.  My beta readers offered their assurances as well.  Don't give up, it's hard, but don't quit.

I've been writing for almost a year straight.  I can't remember the last time my house was actually clean and I've officially rubbed a couple of letters off of my keyboard.  I've been querying for six months now and have had a few ups but mostly downs.  The nagging voice has been pretty loud lately.  Shouting, really.  Why do you torture yourself?  You don't deal well with rejection!  You are never going to make it.  Maybe you should just quit while you're ahead.  Why are you doing this?

Well, I answered the voice.  I love to write!  I have never been so happy as I have the last year.  I don't want to quit and I'll learn to deal with the rejection.  And maybe I won't ever make it.  Maybe I won't get to see a glossy cover with my name on the front.  But at least I can say that I did it.  I wrote a novel.  I am entitled to say it and I'm going to keep writing and keep querying and maybe some day I'll dance so well, that I get a standing ovation when I'm done.


magickalme2 said...

Don't get discouraged. You will get published. You have the talent and drive needed to succeed in a difficult industry. I have been one of the blessed few to sample your writings, and even though my 1 yr old prevents me from indulging with undivided attention, what I have had the pleasure of reading is phanominal.

Mary Lindsey said...

"Well, I answered the voice. I love to write! I have never been so happy as I have the last year. I don't want to quit and I'll learn to deal with the rejection. And maybe I won't ever make it. Maybe I won't get to see a glossy cover with my name on the front. But at least I can say that I did it. I wrote a novel. I am entitled to say it and I'm going to keep writing and keep querying and maybe some day I'll dance so well, that I get a standing ovation when I'm done."

And that, Amanda, is why you WILL make it. Perseverance is the common factor of all published writers. I enjoyed your post. It appears you already dance very well.

Emily Cross said...

i could have written this post - it is so where i was a few months ago (except you had the sense to write the book first - i've only few chapters started) but i really freaked myself out but like you said you have to get over the fear and just KEEP Writing - nice though to see another person have similar experience

Anyhoo i'm sorry if this is a bit out of the blue and 'pluggish by nature', but i've started a writer's forum
where aspiring authors etc. can come and chat and discuss topics and ideas and basically help each other.

I love blogging but it can be both hard to get a readership and connect with them so i thought a community forum would be a great way to network.

The forum is only starting out but i'm hoping it will grow,

I'd really appreciate it if you could take the time and have a look around.

thanks emily.