Today is another entry in
I’ve been following a common thread lately in some of my favorite blogs. It expands on an ideal most writers postulate: Getting published will make me happy. What’s not to believe about this statement? This is our ultimate goal, is it not? We write. We edit. We query. We submit. We get published…maybe. We know the road is laced with potholes of disappointment, but we believe in ourselves and our stories, so we carry on.
But what if the dream is not what we expect it to be? I first pondered this a few weeks ago after having lunch with my friend, Jennifer Hillier, author of Creep. Not only do I hold Jenny in high esteem for her talent and skill, she is someone I relate to on a personal level. We’re both women writers who write similar stories in the same genre, and we live near each other, so we chat about writing and blogging and books and all that sort of thing.
At the time of our most recent lunch date, Jenny was in the final throes of her last edit before sending her latest manuscript, Freak, off to her agent and editor. She expressed what a brutally difficult experience it was, nothing like the first time when she wrote Creep. She lamented that it would never be as enjoyable as it was that first time around. She was under contract now and had deadlines and expectations to meet. As I listened to her, I couldn’t help but think of that old adage, “Be careful what you wish for. You just might get it!”
Then on October 17th, Natalie Whipple wrote a blog post she called Smelling the Roses. Or Whatever wherein she bemoaned how obsessed she had been over the last five years with getting published. More than merely driven, but rather “maybe more like desperate,” she wrote. She said she had put all her “feelings of self-worth into publishing” and she “would never, ever be happy if I didn't sell a book.” Then, almost immediately, Natalie said that selling her book, Transparent, didn’t make her happy after all. It seems that publishing wasn’t all she had expected it to be, that in the end, it’s really all about the writing—the book itself—not the publishing of it.
On Tuesday (November 1st), Rachelle Gardner wrote a post called Writing Ain’t Easy. In it, she wrote about one of her less-experienced writer friends who wondered if her “lack of confidence would dissipate as she gets more experienced in writing,” to which another, more experienced writer friend replied, “The complete lack of confidence will likely persist and even become worse as you progress.”
So, in other words, unlike most jobs where people become better and more comfortable the longer they perform their tasks, writing will always be difficult. It will always be rife with insecurities and self-doubt. Even my blogger friend Joylene Nowell Butler commented on my Bad News Isn’t Always a Bad Thing post last week, saying, “One day there is that sale, and while you believe wholeheartedly that your life is about to change forever, it's not in the way you think.”
I’m getting the message that having my book published might not live up to my lofty expectations. It might not make me feel any better as a writer. It might not make me feel successful. And, in and of itself, it might not be what makes me happy. Writers who have had the same dreams that I have, and who have achieved them, now tell me it only gets harder, and I might not ever feel what it is I want to feel when I’m done.
But I suppose writing is like anything else. When we reach our goal, we bask in our success for a short time then move on to something else, a new thing that will challenge us, that we can enjoy for the sheer effort. Being totally satisfied means not having the need to accomplish something else. Well, that’s not me. I am many things, but static is not one of them. So maybe I’m a bit jaded now, but at least I know what to expect. Or what not to expect anyway.