It has been said by more than one wise person that being an author (or artist or musician) is one of the toughest jobs around. There are all sorts of quote-ables to support this assertion:
Write Drunk. Edit Sober.—Papa Hemmingway (one of my favorites.)
There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you—Maya Angelou
Every writer I know has trouble writing—Joseph Heller
A person is a fool to become a writer. He has no master except his own soul and that I am sure is why he does it.—Roald Dahl
If I waited for perfection, I’d never write a word.—Margaret Atwood (my personal hero)
Easy reading is damn hard writing.—Nathaniel Hawthorne
This is how you do it. You sit down at the keyboard and you put one word after another until it’s done. It’s that easy. And that hard.—Neil Gaiman
You get the idea.
Writing a book is done alone, many times in the dark early morning or late night hours. It is an agonizing process by which you simply give messy birth to a bunch of humans and an entire story, then toss them into the universe to be judged.
It makes you fat—or at least it did me, until I realized that all those empty cheez-it bags and beer bottles littering the table around my laptop had been made that way by me and I barely recalled consuming any of them.
It gives you headaches—both literal and figurative.
It turns you into a zombie—or at least that’s what happens to me because I write in the unhealthiest way possible. I circle the laptop as I gather the threads of a story in my brain. When my eyes glaze over and my fingers start itching to begin tapping, I open said laptop and disappear into it, only to emerge, blinking like a vole in the flashlight when dragged out. But it’s my method and it’s worked so far so I’m sticking with it.
It does turn me into a blinking, headache-y zombie with orange cheese dust on my fingertips and a bad case of the beer burps.
But you know, it’s all worth it in the end, right? The kudos! The instant, deafening roar of reader adulation! The thousands of reviews! The national magazines (oh, and Dancing With the Stars) clamoring for “more from Liz!” The boredom of yet ANOTHER book topping the New York Times Bestseller list! The movie options! The…
More like begging for reviews. Scheduling and paying for the blog tours. Taking the Bookbub rejection (again). Setting up and chattering like a goofball in all the facebook parties and twitter take-overs. All the stuff that feels more and more like the proverbial “falling tree—empty forest—who cares—no one, that’s who” conundrum with every book I write (read: Birth, painfully and with lots of blood and cheese dust). While all the OTHER authors, of course, are doing all that stuff in the paragraph up there instead of me.
Depressing AF, as my teenager would say.
I read recently (and this is in NO WAY meant to reflect actual numbers but I know they’re right so just go with me, ok?) that there were over 1,000,000 (that’s a million) non-traditionally published books (“indie” to me and thee) released in a recent year. Do the math. That is a staggering 2,738.72603 books release PER DAY. Do what you will with those decimal point books but the point is that there is a metric ton of books dumped on the reading public every single day and you know there are only so many hours in said day and only so much disposable income per said reader.
Ergo: Book Release Fatigue.
I get it. I feel it sometimes with books from my go-to authors. Crank out another one seems to be the method du jour and I’ve experienced disappointment with some those go-to authors with books that feel, well, “cranked out.”
But, honestly, all that really ought not to apply to me. I am a special snowflake and all MY efforts must be much more earnest than the other 2,737 books that got released on MY release day.
Nope. I am not. And my book, as wonderful and perfect and awe-inspiring, genre-bending, genius-plotted and carefully-edited as it is, is but one of many.
Heavy sighs and hand me the liquor bottle.
The thing is, once we all grasp the reality that “consistent, ongoing, never-give-up, hard work” is probably NOT going to yield the majority of us that NYT BSA/movie option celebration thing, we are really better off.
It’s distracting to obsess and/or stalk those who are wildly more successful that you are in your chosen genre. You should be writing, instead. Why?
Because you love to write.
Trust me, these are words I share with you, dear and gentle Pro Rookie acolytes, because I have to say them to myself daily.
Ask yourself why you write. If you are like most of us, it’s because you WANT to. So don’t stop. But don’t distract yourself with pointless imaginings. Write the next book. Make it better than the last book. Don’t skip the editing. Release. Repeat. Enjoy.
I’ll be over here enjoying my nightcap: equal parts Valium, 12-year-old Scotch and binge-watching Grey’s Anatomy.
Liz’s most recent labors of love, pain and cheese dust are Kindle World novellas. Check them out! Or not. It’s a free country.