How We Write: When we’re waiting, and waiting, and waiting…

Writing like we’re on fire is every author’s dream. Creating free and feeling the juice and dying to find out what happens next. But how is that zone possible, when your control of the “business” world of your publishing slips beyond your grasp? I’m asked this question all the time. Possibly because I’m riding that slippery slope most of the time these days ;o) Not sure that’s a compliment to the state of my business. But it’s nice, too, living the unpredictability of my world in an outward way that makes others want to know how I’m dealing with all of it.

There are those, in my opinion, who want to tell you how to do what they themselves aren’t, because they’ve been blessed with the answers you can’t find anywhere else–self-help folks, especially in writing circles, who haven’t actually done what they’re promising they can help you be a success at, chap my hide.

sucker

If your fiction writing guru has never actually published a work of fiction, you should probably take that as a sign.

Just saying.

There are those who are going through what you’re needing help with, and just want to rant. I’m not a big fan of that approach either. Everyone needs to vent when the going gets tough, but making a career out of shocking the world with your bitterness or need to blame everyone but your own choices for your circumstances is a little too weak for my tastes.

Then there are those who live their trials and their successes in the open, with the same kind of honesty, and invite you into their up-and-down journey, as they try to make sense out of the mix. I’d like to think this latter approach is what I’ve been rambling about doing in How We Write. I appreciate the company as I dig deeper for the “soul of the matter” behind where I find myself and where I’d like to be next. I hope there’s some value to be taken away from the experience, that will live beyond me. I’m hopeful some of this helps others see themselves more clearly, to understand more completely, to believe more strongly once they know what they themselves truly want.

what do you want

And whether you’ve traditionally published or are indie published or are still struggling to sell that first book, writing into new work while you’re waiting to hear the fate of something you’ve already pushed out into the world, is one of those internal landscapes where it’s nice to have travel company along for the walk. So I don’t take it personally when other authors ask about the many bumps in my road and how I keep going despite the one step forward/two steps back this publishing life can be for all of us at times…

My secret formula for how to keep going while you wait for possibly another step back to catch up to you?

  •  Be honest about the bumps. Why do the rejections and “no thank yous” and the “we don’t want your kind of book heres” keep happening? Besides the fact that you’re misunderstood as an artists and aren’t being taken seriously enough, why is what you’re writing not working for the people you’re trying to write it for?
  • Adjust whatever you can in your process to either get better at what you need to, or to meet expectations better where you’ve already submitted your work. This is a job. Analyze your weaknesses as much or more than your strengths. Grow and get better. Don’t wallow so long in the pain of rejection, that you don’t take what you can learn from it to heart and elevate your creative work to a higher level.
  • Understand what you can’t change, accept what you’re writing for what it is, and adjust your expectations of where you can sell it. If you’re knocking on doors that aren’t a fit for what you’re doing, stop it. Unless you can change what you’re doing to fit their expectations, move on–WHILE using whatever feedback you get to make your process and your stories even better for whomever is looking for your brand of creativity. Always look deeper–to the soul of the matter. Always take advice at face value. Don’t squander any opportunity to see yourself from another perspective, in case there’s a nugget of greater understanding there for you to grasp.
  • See rejections and endless waiting as opportunities, not a final chance, or THE ONE chance that will make or break your career, or the end-all-be-all of your career on the line so everything else needs to come to a halt so you can wring both hands at once while you wait  for the anvil to fall. What the waiting is about is what others think of what you’re doing. What you do while you wait is about what YOU think of what you’re doing. Guess which is more important to keeping your energy and creativity amped and the words flowing from your imagination/fingertips…
  • Write while you wait, because you want the next story to be better. Write, even while others are quite possibly rejecting you, because you want to reach readers with your vision and voice, and that won’t happen unless you can control your emotions and fear and dread and keep writing even it feels like your business is beyond your control. Write, because this is an internal journey of discovery and sharing what you alone see, not because the end-game is others telling you how good you are. Write, because even if you never make any money at this, you need to be heard and understood and recognized for who and what your thoughts tell you you are and want to be. Write, because that’s who you are.

It may sound crazy, because I’ve written on deadline for 16+ novels now, but in the end, that’s what’s kept me going for 8 years. The honest truth is, I’m terrified of each deadline and unfinished book. What I’m NOT terrified of, is  my creative voice. I don’t let myself believe that it deserves to be silenced, no matter what’s happened or who isn’t interested in my last project. I keep writing, because I have something to say that I believe others are wanting to hear. Because it keeps me sane. Sort of…

crazy-writer-graffiti

I’ve had major editorial changes, and lines crumbling, and publishing houses going out of business, and life-threatening medical conditions, and family emergencies, and financial freak-outs, etc. come knocking at my psyche in the midst of some of the toughest stories I’ve created. And I’ve considered quitting more than once, sometimes more than once while writing the same book. Most multi-published authors I know have shared similar experiences. Life goes on, and this can be an unforgiving industry to live a life in. But you must continue writing, if a writer is what you want to continue to be.

I’m still here. The writing itself is still the most important thing to me, or I couldn’t have weathered the last 8 years of living and still found myself wanting to expose myself to the ups and downs of this business. I can still be honest and adjust and understand and see my way though the obstacle course of things in my creative path, and I still want to write. Every day. Every character. Every story. Every opportunity to see more clearly and more deeply into the worlds my mind wants to build beyond the reality I can’t control around me.

Waiting to see what others think of what you’re writing is tough. Cheerleading your way through that harsh reality doesn’t always work, no matter how skilled a guru you might have in your corner. Thinking that a few pat answers will make a difference when you’re at your lowest, is often what sinks you even deeper.

But when this life of waiting is at its toughest, there’s always the writing, the creative inspiration that called you to this at your journey’s beginning.  That’s what will see you through, when the rest seems like a cruel joke.

once upon a time

The writing, the next new beginning, never goes away–unless you banish it beneath worrying and giving up, because someone else doesn’t understand. Don’t do that. Don’t let your voice be silenced that easily.

As long as you keep writing and keep believing your voice has something to say that others want to hear, the rest will sort itself out.

Promise ;o)

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

8 Responses to “How We Write: When we’re waiting, and waiting, and waiting…”

  1. Waiting is the killer–whether it’s for good news or the other kind. Anyone who survives this business for the long haul faces ups and downs, and it’s how you learn to cope with both of those extremes that makes the difference. My first publisher went out of business a month before my second release, and then it took me nearly seven years to sell again. I’ve had lines die, leaving me looking for a new home for my books. Like you, I’ve found focusing on the writing itself is the biggest help. Surrounding myself with people who offer their support (and chocolate as needed) also keep me moving forward.

    Great post!
    Alexis

  2. Thanks, Alexis. When we’re working with no end-game in sight, I think we have a prime opportunity to stop and see if what we’re working on is what we want to write most. What a gift!

    I’m happiest when I’m on contract, because I know readers are that much closer to reading my story. But I’m maybe at my most creative during those between times while I’m waiting, because I get to chose in those moments what that next story will be about–free from editorial expectation.

    It’s only about what I want, then, you know?

    And chocolate. It’s ALWAYS about the chocolate ;o)

  3. One of the best talks on writing I’ve ever heard was by Jayne Anne Krentz. She spoke of finding and understanding your core story–the underlying themes that speak to you as a reader and as a writer. That really resonated with me. It means writing to your strengths and exploring the emotions that really interest me. That’s what keeps me at the computer hanging out with the same group of characters for the length of time it takes to finish a book.

    I love brainstorming new ideas. A friend and I will meet and pound out the details over lunch. It’s an energizing and creative process whether we’re working on ideas for her or for me.

  4. Anna – Thanks so much for sharing your insights and your process. I love this post.

    • You guys inspire me just as much, Judy.

      Being a writer and hearing from other writers experiencing the same journey is one of the BEST things about this business of ours!

  5. robena grant says:

    This is a wonderful post. Thank you, Anna.
    The waiting is so hard, and being unpublished makes it difficult to stay positive because you have nothing to back up your submission. You’re going in cold.
    It’s good for me to hear that people like you still worry as you wait for answers. We can easily forget that. And your advice is excellent. All we have is the writing, so I agree, it’s better to forget the submission once it leaves our hands and just start the next project.

    • I don’t think we every forget, Robena ;o)

      But remembering that the “acceptance” we long for isn’t within our control is key. What we do control is how we see our own writing and the improvements we can make, and most of all the LOVE we owe our own work, regardless of what anyone else thinks.

      Lose sight of that, and you’re thick in the soup that too many of us have drowned our dreams in over the years.

      Glad you found something inspiring in today’s post. I never know when it’s just me ranting into the void ;o)

  6. Anna – Great post. I hate waiting. It makes me crazy . . . okay, crazier. So, I just keep buys by writing, studying craft, trying to use my time productively. Sigh . . .

Leave a Reply to robena grant