Writing is hard work. The journey to traditional publishing can be agony.
Is it worth it?
I’m sure it is, especially if that’s what you want to do.
Personally, I can’t tell you if it is because I haven’t been traditionally published. I haven’t gotten a book deal or even an agent. I haven’t even received an offer of representation from an agent at this point. You know what, though? That’s okay. I don’t need to rush. I want these things to happen and I want to make a career out of it, but I don’t need to hurry to get there or stress about not being there or let it get to me.
Of course it still does. I whine, I complain, I mope about, I’ve even cried. Staying positive in this journey is difficult. There’s a lot of rejection involved and even more envy along the way. Talented writers are everywhere. Writers spending more time doing writing than you are everywhere. It’s easy to fall into a place where it all feels hopeless and worthless and absolutely awful. What if my hard work means nothing? What if I’m just imagining my talent? What if my stories are awful? What if no one cares?
At the end of the day, I try to remember that my dream isn’t to have fans or get rich and famous – it’s to write books for a living. Literally a living wage. Money to sustain me, maybe money to spare for luxuries like shopping sprees or even vacations. I’m not dreaming big here. I’m just dreaming about doing what I love for a living. It’s as simple as that. To get there, however, there’s a lot to do and a lot to endure.
Here’s what sucks:
I don’t have time to write between classes or during classes like I did while I was in university. I don’t have the energy to write thousands of words every night like I used to. Sometimes I can’t get more than a thousand words a week. My job takes up so much of my time and I lack the motivation to work on my WIPs a lot of the time.
I received over a dozen rejections and at least another dozen more queries unanswered. I didn’t receive more than ten likes on tweets in DVpit, the only Twitter pitch event I participated in. For the queries I did send out, they were all rejections or no answer whatsoever.
I didn’t get into any mentoring contests I entered. I didn’t receive any special feedback. I didn’t participate in YA Twitter until late last year. I barely had any writing friends and hardly anyone I could talk to who could understand what I was doing and what I wanted to do.
Even though it took me a month to churn out the first draft of WTB, it’s still being polished up nearly two years later. I don’t have several critique partners or beta readers. I don’t have people raving about my book. I don’t have friends freaking out about what’s going on. I don’t really feel like it’s Some Amazing Big Thing, even if I do think it’s good. I don’t have the confidence to ask more people to take the time to read it because it is a full-length novel and people have more important things to do. I don’t even have the confidence to show it to friends and family even though it’s something that makes me proud.
Every other draft has taken me much longer to finish. WQC went through multiple incomplete drafts, rewritten until I found a draft I liked and finished and I’m still uncomfortable thinking about sharing it. THATS took a few months but a year of brainstorming and lots of crying and the first draft feels like it’s awful. #RivalAssassinsWIP has maybe 12k words so far while #BakingFigureSkaterBook has maybe 5k. I am no even close to finishing either of them.
That’s a lot of bad. That’s a lot of things to be upset about. Putting it all out there is like finally exhaling, like uncurling a fist and removing my nails from my palms, or getting off my feet after spending hours upon hours on them. I don’t dwell on every single thing all the time, but I do think about them often.
Lately, I’m in a slump. I’m still trying to get used to work because it’s not consistent and I’m often closing the store, which is a lot of work. But writing makes me happy. Writing is something to look forward to at night. I am regaining my focus and feeling more motivated and getting excited about my projects.
I go on a lot about how it’s garbage, it’s the worst, my writing sucks, etc etc. I apologize for the state of it. I don’t expect people to rave about it. The truth is that I LOVE MY BOOK. I LOVE MY STORY. It’s fun, it’s exciting, it’s so interesting. The characters are intriguing, the plot is thrilling, the magic is so SO COOL. Maybe other people won’t agree with me, but I’m happy with the way it’s coming along. I am KILLING these revisions. This new draft is going to be awesome and I can’t wait to send it out to agents, to show them how much I’ve changed and improved.
Those are a few good things. Here’s some more:
Within all the agent rejections, I did get relevant feedback from interested agents. They told me that they liked the premise, that my query letter was great, but they also gave me a heads up on what wasn’t working: too many words, a slow start, too much exposition in the beginning. And a couple of them asked me to revise and resubmit to them. And while one agent did end up rejecting me, she said she took some extra time because she really liked the premise. AND THEN I got a very delayed full MS request from a query I sent in October and had marked as a rejection (which has been super encouraging and provided extra motivation).
I finished the first draft of WTB less than two years ago. I hadn’t written seriously in several years before that. I now have several upcoming projects in various stages of development and two complete first drafts of exciting stories. My writing has improved substantially. I’ve developed my voice, my style, and maybe my brand of YA fantasy stories with criminally-inclined heroines who do what they want to get what they want. I’ve started writing #ownvoices stories and do it (most of the time) without shame or uncertainty.
I now have writer friends. I communicate more with others about writing. I have CPs and new eyes on my MS. I hope to obtain more readers before I start querying agents. I’m excited to have people read my work and I know there will be someone who will feel passionately about it.
These days, my mental health is much improved. I have some money now to buy things here and there that I wasn’t able to buy before. I have a job that is fun even if it is challenging and even exhausting sometimes. I have a significant other is everything and more than I wanted in a partner. I have my best friends and a belief in the stability of our friendships. I have a wonderful relationship with my mom. I am gaining confidence in myself and what I can do.
It’s hard to stay positive, but every day I start faltering, I start thinking about what I have done so far and what I have yet to do. I will accomplish what I want to accomplish. I’ve come a long way. I have further to go. It won’t be easy, but I know I’ll get there.
Seeing the good between all the bad doesn’t come naturally to me. I still see the worst in myself, the things that could be better, the things I need to do and haven’t done. The bad thoughts come in all the time and it’s never really easy to flush them out. It is possible though, and that’s what matters. At least, that’s what I’m focusing on.
Find the good stuff. Hold on tight. Stay positive. Keep going.
The journey will be bumpy, but it’s going to work out.