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August 2014

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The struggle

Stephanie Kuehnert posted at YA Outside the Lines about the ways in which we can get ourselves all twisted up in the search for the right story, the right routine, the right rules. I especially like these points she made:

"Writing is ... a part of the fabric of your being."

"My mentality that I have to work on one project at a time and stick with it til the end (or til interrupted by an obligation) is just one of the many rules that I've made for myself that I had to realize was exactly that--a made-up rule, not a statement of fact."

" ... crises of faith like the one I'm dealing with don't just disappear overnight. There is no magic fix, not even selling a book. Each day I have to find a way to gather up enough strength and faith in myself to continue."

Writing can be very tough, mentally and emotionally. I've often said that I'm grateful it took me so long to sell my first book. If I'd published a novel when I first tried, back around the age of twenty, I would not have been able to handle this roller-coaster ride. I was not emotionally equipped to deal with such unpredictable highs and lows, to separate my well-being from my books' success or failure. Even now, it's not always easy ... but back then, I just didn't have my feet under me yet. (Please note that I'm not saying twenty-year-olds in general can't handle writing success--there are even teens who handle it beautifully--just that I, personally, could not.)

Whether you're celebrating or struggling today, I wish you well!

Comments

Many good thoughts there, especially yours. I read once where the thirties were the perfect age to succeed at writing. Before that you're too new, after that you're too jaded.

I published first in my forties, so--yeah. But it's still pretty accurate.
The perfect age is whenever we're ready. ;-)
I hear you.

Even at twenty-nine (and a bit), I find wrting's bumpy ride both enjoyable and stressful. Goodness knows how I'd have coped nine (and a bit) years ago :)
Here's a question: was it tougher or easier to find success musically (with your band) than with publishing?
Lol, the band never found success (it ran away and hid whenever we approached). We had a lot of fun, but in terms of fame and fortune, we were very much a legend in our own lunchtime.

As for publishing, I won't consider myself a success until my books are available in the likes of Target, Walmart etc. ;)
I would love to read a YA based on your band experience. Don't know if that's the kind of project that interests you at all.

The thing about success is that it's so difficult to define. I did have a Walmart edition of The Secret Year, and I was glad to have it, but I didn't think that was the line crossing between success and not. And when I heard that it wasn't there anymore, I didn't feel like I'd fallen back over a line. Seeing my books on shelves at Borders and B&N and my favorite indies has been a thrill. But after a while, they leave the shelves to make way for other books.

It feels like success when our books first appear, but then people end up recalibrating. They want a certain number of sales, or they want to make a bestseller list, or whatever.

And then, earlier in a career, there's a tendency to say, "If I can just get a book published, I'll be a success. That's all I ask for."

I see you as successful because you are publishing books that you wanted to write, you are giving to the community and getting yourself known, and you seem to be having a good time doing it all.
Thank you :)
These are really good points, especially about the self-imposed "rules". It's amazing (and sad) how heavily bogged down we can get sometimes, but it's nice when we can step back and realise we can also break ourselves out. :)
Sometimes the worst prison is our own minds ...
I have a few self-imposed writing rules too. And they work pretty well for me. Until I find a new rule that works better. I try not to be too rigid with myself. I don't want to squash my creativity and I want to remain open to all possibilities.
My writing rules have changed over time.