Writers are a moody lot, and there are reasons for that. Most people – non-writers – don’t get why we are the way were are, so I’m going to give you an inside look at what it really means to live a writer’s life. I’m also going to give you some insight into why we feel the way we do; it goes hand-in-hand.
It is said that artists – of all varieties – put something of themselves into their work, and this is true. Our voices, or angle, comes from our perspective of life and life experiences. Therefore, they are somehow, on some level, emotionally attached to their work.
Writers spend hours writing a story and then agonizing over every word in the editing process, second guessing themselves on punctuation and content. Then they have to make a decision: Is it good enough to share with other people? Or will they laugh, make fun of me, or point out my flaws? It’s basically like the first day of school every single time you write something. Eventually you swallow the fear of rejection bullet, and submit your story somewhere or post it on your blog to share with the world; it’s your very own masterpiece.
Now brace yourself for the bad news. Writers get more rejections than they ever do acceptances. They get more negative feedback than they ever do positive. That fear of rejection is a real and living beast inside a writer’s heart because it bites hard, and often. And that’s not the only fear a writer has – they’re always concerned (like all artists without inflated egos) that they aren’t good enough. This is constantly reinforced with critiques that shred your story down to nothing, and/or a rejection from a publication you really wanted to make it into. The only ones that make it in this business are the thick-skinned writers who have more of the ‘watch me succeed” attitude than anything else.
It’s really depressing to put so much time, effort, and self into something only to have someone tear you apart. It’s not over there though… Then come the reviews once you have been published. Reviews from people who don’t know you but think they can personally attack you and your writing. There can be fifty great reviews and two bad ones and a writer will still feel like everyone hates them.
Why would anyone ever put themselves through all that, you might ask… Well, it’s because writers love to write, and they love to share their stories with the world. When that one acceptance out of thirty rejections finally comes to them, it’s like someone just handed them the world on a platter. It’s an adrenaline rush and validation that they aren’t crazy and are good enough for someone to back them and want to publish them!
The sad part? This shiny adrenaline feeling doesn’t last long, but it’s now addictive. Writers will keep writing and sending out submissions in hopes of getting this feeling back. They fall to the low road of depression very easily and need that upswing again; they’ll go through the multiple rejections to achieve that one moment of bliss. The best part about that though, is the more a writer writes the better they get at writing and the more acceptances they receive!
After the blessed acceptance, and going to print, and past the positive and negative reviews, we then get to sales and royalties.
A writer feels amazing when their book comes out. They think the entire world will want to read the greatness they’ve put into this work. It’s brilliant and a genre changer, after all. Then the book doesn’t sell. No one wants it, and that evil demon who sits on your shoulder and whispers “You aren’t good enough!” comes back with a cynical laugh to add salt to the wound you thought was healing.
When people do actually buy your book, you don’t get paid for three to six months and you’re lucky if you make $10 after the press gets their cut (you only get a percentage, after all). The writer has spent hours, days, weeks, and sometimes years on one project and then they see almost nothing for their efforts. Their family doesn’t see a point to it, because all that time they saw the writer spend on something to get so little back doesn’t seem worth it. So, now, the writer is not only getting bashed on by the world, but their own family doesn’t see a point or a worth to what they’re doing because no money is coming in. Sure, they’re proud to know apublished author, but it doesn’t really mean much to everyday life. There’s still dishes, and laundry, and every other little mundane thing life has to offer, and that grabs an author by the throat and chokes them sometimes, because they aren’t understood even by the people closest to them.
This is the reality of writing. Those of us that do it all the time to even have a mere glimpse of success in any way have gone through all of this multiple times. We swing from the highs to the lows. We don’t think we’re good enough and doubt ourselves. We press forward and beg for more punishment just to make our dreams come true – telling our stories.
I hope this has given you something of an insight into what it’s like to be a writer. A glimpse at why we have our highs and lows, and what causes them. The best thing you can do to encourage a writer is read their stories – that’s what they’re there for. Oh, and leave a review… Not a mean one, but a nice one that’s honest, stating what you liked and what you didn’t like about what you read. A writer needs the feedback to make sure they’re on the right path to increase their chances of acceptance.
©Rebecca Besser, 2012. All rights reserved.