This post is part of the Creative Process series, in which I will whine, cry, and philosophize about my life as a fiction writer. In the worst case scenario, fellow struggling artists will be heartened by my constant failures. In the best case scenario, a best-selling novel just might be written.
Sometimes, I wish I was born to be anything but a writer. Now, certainly I have other career options. If I wanted that badly to avoid a writing career, I could always work at McDonald’s. Fortunately or unfortunately, though, my writing is what I live and breathe. When I can’t fall asleep at night, it’s because I’m plotting the narrative arch of my novel. When I leap out of bed rearing to go, it’s because I have beautiful blank pages of Microsoft Word awaiting me. When I can’t escape from the grasps of my covers, it’s because today those blank pages are more intimidating than anything. When the neighbors hear me shrieking like this:[youtube http://youtu.be/HLI4EuDckgM]
it’s because I was just freshly pressed.
Today, I just want to rant about how fucking hard it is to be a writer. To the non-writer, it seems easy peasy — type out 80,000 words and make $80,000. Hey, that’s a dollar a word! Wish I made that much for writing English papers. What they don’t know is how much psychological torture writers experience to finally get a book published. After publishing, you still can’t guarantee that anyone will read it. Perhaps, through a cruel twist of fate, nobody will give a shit about your novel until you’re dead. Some people say that you shouldn’t judge your writing by the number of readers. But how will you ever know if your writing is the best or worst thing to happen to mankind? Your own unbiased, objective opinion? Ha! Check out this Venn diagram, courtesy of Ted McCagg of the Nervous Breakdown.
Basically, if you’re a writer, you might as well be bipolar. One instant, you think you’re de la bombe. More often than not, however, you feel ashamed to call yourself a writer. Then, when you finally (finally!) find yourself an agent who thinks your latest novel is not so bad, guess what? Nobody else thinks so. After a month out at the publishers, I’ve been informed by various editors that:
- Your novel is too literary. Uh, wasn’t aware that I was the next Steinbeck.
- There’s not enough romance. Did you miss the obvious love triangle?
- We want more sexiness and emotion. Did I accidentally label my book as erotica?
- We want it to be edgier and angstier. You probably didn’t read past the first chapter…
- You have a lot of potential. Sigh, did you say that just to be nice?
While my novel is still out with a few editors, it looks like this one isn’t heading down the publishing route. Which means I’m back at square one (plus an agent) and back to the drawing board I go. This also means I’m back in novel-writing status, so if you see me walking towards you on the street, it’s best to run in the opposite direction.
How do you deal with failure? Is it hard to get back on your feet?
À la prochaine,