Writing is hard. Some people get that. Other people don’t… and then proceed to tell you about the children’s book they are going to write someday. But that’s not what my complaint today is about. Writing is hard, but publishing is hard too. I’m not sure if I should even bring this up, but lately I feel like a lot of people in the non-book world are wondering what’s taking me so long to get a book published.
It was almost four years ago when I started telling the world that I wanted to be a writer. I probably wasn’t even confident enough to use those words, but I started prioritizing my writing. And I took what was largely a private hobby and started talking about it as a potential career.
And I get it, four years is a long time. But in learning how to write/publishing time it actually feels pretty short. There’s an abandoned manuscript, an MFA degree, four drafts of a new book, querying, choosing and agent, making revisions in those four years. And yeah, I wish I could tell everyone that having an agent means I’ll have a book out next Fall or the next Fall or even the next next Fall. But that’s not how it works, at least not for most people.
I get that people are just interested and don’t understand the industry. It’s just sometimes hard not to feel like a failure when people ask, so when is your book coming out? Because I end up thinking maybe never.
Really not an overwhelming problem, just something I’ve noticed lately. Also…even though I said I’d only say one complaint. Another thing that REALLY bugs me is when I tell people that I write YA and they respond by telling me how rich I’m going to be. This happened all the time in grad school from people writing literary fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. And someone said that to me last week. It’s like insinuating that I’m only writing YA for the money – also it’s not true. It’s not like writing YA means I’m going to automatically get Twilight or Hunger Games money.
Okay. Rant over. Really had being negative on this blog. But I also know how useful I’ve found other writers talking about insecurities and problems. Have either of these things happened to any writers out there? Do you have any writing woes or pet peeves right now? I’d love to commiserate in the comments!
5 thoughts on “One (little) Complaint”
Oh my gosh, Alison, I completely feel you on pretty much all of this! In my experience, few non-writers / people outside the publishing bubble understand the long, iterative process that goes into creating a book that gets an agent and then a book deal — and that it won’t happen for every person who tries.
I’ve struggled for a long time to figure out how much to share about my writing with people in my personal/professional life; last year I started being more open about it, and now I kind of regret it. My in-laws are well-meaning, but they don’t really understand it and they like to ask very direct questions (a combination that brings out all my writerly vulnerabilities).
P.S. Long-time reader, first-time commenter. Please accept my belated congratulations on signing with an agent — that’s so exciting!! 🙂
Wow! So so lovely to hear from you. And thank you for your very kind congratulations. I totally get it about the in-laws. Everyone is *usually* well meaning, but then it’s also like how many times can I explain this? Maybe if I were a little less insecure it wouldn’t sting so much. I don’t know.
Good luck with wherever you are in your writing journey!
Unfortunately there’s never much you can do to help other people’s assumptions. (Years of “so as an editor you like move commas around and catch typos right?” taught me that…) But don’t worry, once you get a book deal (which I have no doubt you 🙂 ) you’ll get to deal with “You have a book deal why do you still need a day job?” or “it’s going to take HOW long until your publication date?”
Sending you lots of luck (and even more patience)!
I hate being asked how my book is selling. It’s awkward to answer and also feels like someone is asking me my salary. I always encourage people to ask writer friends, “How are bookish things?” Then WE get to steer the convo.
I like the suggestion of “How are bookish things?” I generally talk about how things are going so much that I just tell my friends not to ask and that I’ll tell them if there is new news, but that doesn’t always work obviously!