Writing Blues

The problem with writing is that we writers don’t see a twice-monthly paycheck. Well, published writers might. To be honest, I don’t know how published writers get paid–I know it does vary depending on what you do and what company you are with. I worked for a while with Demand Studios, and I think we got paid weekly. I might need to go back to that, but article writing is a drag when it is set up as a double-blind so you don’t know your editor, your editor doesn’t know you, and you never get the same editor twice. I think I would enjoy it if I could start up a working relationship with an editor so I know what to expect 100% of the time. AHEM, I am wandering from the point.

The point is that we who have not been published and we who are devoting lots of time to the first manuscript face certain challenges. Amongst them is the financial challenge. I start to wonder if the time and effort is “worth” it, if I will ever look at the manuscript and declare, “I have done my best! It is time to send it off!”

It *will* be worth it. I know. I have heard plenty of laments over not finishing, and read plenty of success stories. They all point to the same thing.  That ninety-odd percent of writers will never become published. Not because their work is bad. Not because their idea sucks. Not because publishers are unwilling to publish. But, because they self-terminate their dream. They tell themselves that the publishers won’t take their book because it must be something wrong with the manuscript, something wrong with their writing. There might be, but usually an editor can help the writer fix things. But the real reason for the publishers rejecting work could be many things. Remember, they are companies with products who target audiences and milk the novels for all they are worth. The real reason for rejecting a manuscript could be because they already have one similar, or targeted to the same audience, and they do not want their books to compete with each other. It could be because they are adjusting their marketing plan, or any number of business-related things. It could be that the manuscript hit the wrong desk or was read by the wrong person. Maybe that person prefers mystery and only the stellar romances, and your is a romance that doesn’t tickle their fancy. In the end, these people are not only businesses, but people. How many times have you boasted about your favorite book, only to have a person call that book, “Just alright”? Those publishers are people. Maybe it went to the wrong person.

I find this financial hurdle a challenge for several reasons. First, the hubbs and I are newlyweds. We are celebrating 6 months in 14 days. We are poor. He has been out of college for a year, and I for 8 months, and we entered a pretty sour job market. We are grateful that he (a contractor) has managed to stretch his contract from 3 months to 6, and maybe more. We have no benefits. We live in a shoebox so we can save a little from each paycheck in case he gets accepted into grad school. We live in a place with scant businesses, fewer jobs, and an hour’s freeway drive away from places with slightly more businesses and jobs. We are impatient to start earning money from my writing, but I know that I won’t get much money if my novel is not as best as it can be. I have no editor, besides my friends, family, and ex-classmates.

Then there is a second hurdle: The self-qualification. I need to feel like my writing is up to par. Other published writers say that they could work on their book for infinity, and for the few publications I did for the Chemistry/Biochemistry Department, I can attest to that personally. At some point, you have to say that it is the best you can get it, then not read the publication because you *will* see something you would like to change. Had I been at this point in my novel last month, I would have cheered and submitted. But my experienced with NaNoWriMo and Merlyn’s Amulet made me more seasoned, made me see things differently and better.

And my day “off” (it is Sunday) from editing has let me think about my book, and realize some key changes that would make it much better. I was energized and enthusiastic, ready to take on all 154 pages…until I was reminded of the state of our finances, and suddenly my power-high came crashing down. I swore to Mom that I would get the book done in December. And I will. I have to, because I have to find closure on the last 5 months of my life. I have to move on to the next project. And I have to hope and pray that I will gain a following, and that following will spread the word and magically launch us to a point where I can earn at least two digits a month. Three would be worthy of tears. $125 would be worthy of a party, for $125 doth be the special number that it takes to purchase an ISBN number, where I could actually start selling a physical book and asking bookstores to stock a couple of copies. Should I get an ISBN, I would order my own book, never mind that I would loose money. Would I read it? I do not know. Maybe, after time had passed and I’d forgotten the little twists in the tale. But I would look at it. And it would inspire me to keep plugging away.

And that image of a book on my shelf written by me is what keeps me going when the hurdles seem overwhelming, when I am ready to call into SubWay and ask for a day job despite my husband’s hesitancy about the sort of customers who go in there. Well, our 4-month-old puppy helps keep me home, too. She’s awful young to be in the crate for an 8-hour shift, and I don’t want to imagine the energy she would have after that. (She is a blue heeler-pointer mix.) I am a writer, but I am also human, and in listening to other writers give their inspirational speeches, it is easy to forget the smaller every day challenges that we face–not just rejection.

Well, I’m back to writing in a scene. Hopefully tomorrow’s post will be more inspirational.

Your Dearest Nicolette.

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2 thoughts on “Writing Blues

  1. Very honest thoughts here. I’ve been writing for several years and have experienced many of the same thoughts and fears that you describe. It’s hard being a writer, especially in a time when everyone wants their voice to be heard. It’s so easy now, even with social networking, to blot out experienced voices that don’t know how to be heard. You talk (near the beginning) about questioning whether it’s worth it to send a story off…I’ve gone through that so many times. I’ve scrapped a book I started writing nearly ten years ago almost four times and just can’t get it to where I want it. Hopefully this will be the year I finish, even if I don’t send it off.
    Great post! I wish you the best of luck with your writing!

    1. Thanks for the comment! I love having open, honest communication with other writers. Since we’re in the same industry, I have found we all have similar problems. I think the biggest question is the “is it worth it” question; financially, it probably isn’t, especially for those of us who have a book like yours that we just can’t get “right”. (I have a couple like that, too. I think most writers do.) It isn’t about the money, it’s about the deep-down desire and drive to share the stories in your head with others who would also enjoy it. Just getting it finished is a massive accomplishment! That is probably one of the hardest parts–the finishing. If I was good at that, I would have been published eight years ago! Or at least had useable manuscripts for today.

      And thanks for the luck! I sure need it! Best of luck to you, too, and let me know when you get your book finished. It is quite reason for celebration.

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