Monday, February 28, 2011

The Looming Darkness

I have so many thoughts swirling around in my head. I'm not even sure I can put them in words. You know how you feel as summer dwindles and school looms overhead? That's kind of how I feel.

Submission is coming. I won't tell you when it happens or any of the details, but it's coming.

I've been having little panic attacks over it here and there, the memories of my last submission experience very much haunting me. How can it not? Sometimes I get into this bad place where all I can think is, "What if it happens again? What if all this work still isn't enough? What will I do? How will I cope again? How long can I do this before I say it's over?"

It's been roughly three months since I've been on sub, and I have to admit it's nice. I feel like I'm on a break, just messing around though I've been editing and writing quite a bit. I finished a book. I finished the Big Edit on Transparent. I did the first edit of Sidekick. I'm 20k into a new project. I've been feeling great! Seriously, I've been in such a good place with my writing and confidence overall.

But then I start thinking about sub, and it all tanks. No more summer days full of fun and play. Nope. Back to school, with hard tests and teachers who might not like me. Back to sitting around waiting for the bell to ring. Back to worrying if I'll make the grade.

I keep trying to plan how best to prepare myself this time around.Go completely internet dark? Just Twitter? Or maybe I'm being a baby, and I can handle the constant deluge of news I want so badly to be my own. Yeah, probably not, because last week I got one kind of inconsiderate email and, honestly, it derailed my writing. The WIP I'd previously been flying through suddenly looked stupid. I didn't want to blog, because I was reminded just how much people are judging me. I have so much judging ahead of me, and maybe I need to save my fragile ego for that.

I don't know. I'm kind of rambling, but I guess I'm saying that it doesn't get easier. The pressure is suffocating. Sometimes I feel like there are so many people who will be disappointed if I fail again, and I really hate disappointing people. It's probably the #1 thing that rips me apart. The #2 is getting pitied, which inevitably follows the disappointing people thing. Ugh, that look people give when they feel sorry for you? Can I just go die now?

In the end, I don't know exactly how I'll handle going on submission this time, but I do know one thing: If it makes me feel like crap, I'm turning it off. I have no idea if that will mean going totally offline or just a lull in posting or maybe it won't even be noticeable. I have to take care of myself during this process—definitely learned that last time around. So please don't feel like I hate you or anything, just picture me hiding under a desk, shielding my head. That's basically what I'll be doing.

44 comments:

  1. This is your year!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I'll be right there with you, Natalie. You can have some of my (currently) unblemished optimism, and I will rely on your strength of experience. Together, we'll make it through. And celebrate our book deals when it's all over. :)

    ReplyDelete
  3. Scary.:( I wouldn't blame you if you disappeared for a while. But I'll be crossing my fingers for you!

    *wraps Natalie's ego in soft cotton* *sends virtual cookies and ninja unicorns*

    ReplyDelete
  4. People have said that for a few years, nkrell...though I do appreciate the sentiment.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Turn it off, if necessary. Find a big, fat book and lose yourself for a while.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I hate the 'summer's ending' feeling...

    We'll miss ya, if you do go dark for a while, but a break is sometimes the best thing to do.

    And whenever we had to crouch in halls/bathrooms for a tornado drills in school--some of the teachers suggested covering our heads with textbooks... so maybe that'll help.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I can't imagine why someone would be judging you. You're such a source of support for so many writers. Of course I want you to sell your book, but even if next month you haven't sold it won't change the fact that you have a bunch of fans rooting for you to succeed. And we rely on your honesty and knowledge to in our own journeys. I can't imagine anyone judging you harshly when you're so incredibly sweet.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Wow, that's the full hot order. Since being on submission is such a pain, have you ever considered ePubbing? I know that the old adage states that ePubbing is for those who don't have what it takes to get published by traditional routes, but that adage is just that - old. So is the word "traditional". With Borders withering away as we speak and B&N profits not doing so hot either, things are changing. Namely, shelf space.

    I am still querying agents for my first novel and suddenly feel like I'm trying to get a CD made. No one buys CDs anymore. The question is: what will an agent's role be when ebooks win the battle? I suddenly doubt many publishers will be too eager to sign a newbie like myself with shelf space being more scarce than signs of life in James Franco at the Oscars.

    Personally, I'd love to buy your zombie book! You've got serious skills.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Do whatever you think is necessary, but know that your readers/the writing community is in your corner. Or, hiding under your desk. ;)

    Best wishes~

    ReplyDelete
  10. Sean, I have talked about my current sentiments on self-publishing (see reference for full article), but it really boils down to the fact that I don't have the time or money to be my own publisher right now. I hardly have time to write!

    I understand your feelings, but I honestly don't think publishers or agents will disappear. I love my agent, and I can't imagine not having her support and input.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Oh, and also, the zombie book is really, really embarrassingly bad. I would never let anyone read it now.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Good luck Natalie.

    I know what you mean about submission, I'm there now and it feels like hanging over a precipice with that great void unknown yawning below.

    I kinda did the opposite to going dark - I started twittering and blogging, and while it wasn't easy, it was a bit of a helpful distraction.

    Oh, and I don't think anyone is judging you, we're just wishing you all the best.

    Fingers crossed.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Seriously, I just want to throw little magical balls of WIN in your direction... but I doubt you need them. I'm with those who are saying THIS IS YOUR YEAR! Also, I don't have magical balls of WIN to throw at you. But I wish I did because that would be a totally awesome super power, I think.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Natalie, I lurk on your blog, and I just want you to know that although there may be people who judge, I think there are far more people who are pulling for you, who are excited for this chance you'll have, and who find strength in your willingness to share the ups and downs of publishing. Good luck!

    ReplyDelete
  15. There is nothing good about subbing...it makes a great big pit in your stomach. But....I'm sending lots of good thoughts your way! You've got a lot of people cheering for you!

    ReplyDelete
  16. I'm in the same boat, going back on sub after a few months. Frankly, I'm just glad I can finally get back to WiP, which is just about the only thing that distracts me from sub.

    I do find that the less I blog/read other blogs/read about deals, the less worried I get about the whole thing. Last time I was a mess, stalking author blogs to see how long they were on sub. This time, I'm concentrating on what I can do to make myself a better writer, and to me, that means writing. And a lot of reading.

    Good luck this round!

    ReplyDelete
  17. The answer to this kind of stress is always to go write something else. You just gave yourself 110% to the last project, you've done your best. Pat yourself on the back for that and now just write something to have fun. Something small if you don't have the energy for a novel. Sketches, short stories, poems, whatever! It doesn't matter!

    And like Emily said--we're all rooting for you!

    If you're constantly stressing the submission, it's time to remember why you write...and that answer never never never comes from the publishing world--that's a business and it's now out of your hands. The answer to the stress comes from sitting at your desk, with your pen/keyboard in front of you, and making stuff up.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Good luck, Natalie! I honestly can't imagine how stressful this is, but I've appreciate you being open about the process. I wish you success!

    ReplyDelete
  19. When I was a little kid, I noticed that the things I worried about the most (like getting into trouble for something) were always the ones that turned out okay. So I am sending you some 8-year-old me good luck: because you're worrying about this so much it will all turn out fine. Promise :)

    ReplyDelete
  20. I hear you Natalie. I am in a similar position to you right now. I think you are very brave to be so open about your fears. If your books are as raw and honest as you are, they will almost certainly be a hit. I'll certainly buy a copy when I see it on the shelf. Good luck.

    ReplyDelete
  21. I'm probably repeating here, but I don't have time to read all the comments...you are wonderful, a big help to me here in the virtual world and inspirational in my writing process. Don't let haters get you down. (I know, easy to say). Sending you virtual cookies and hugs...you do whatever you need to do to take care of yourself! All the best. :)

    ReplyDelete
  22. I'm going on sub in a month or so as well, and I'm actually pretty calm about it. For now anyway...
    I know my book might not sell. It might not be good enough in an editors eyes, but that won't ever stop me from writing. I'll write another book, and another one. It's what makes me happy. Don't get me wrong, rejection really sucks, but in reality, it makes us stronger.
    Before I got my agent I'd get really down when I'd get a rejection, but then I decided it was okay to get them. It made me work harder and push to write something much better.
    I'm sorry you are so stressed about this. I think you're great, and you write such inspiring blog posts to all of us aspiring writers. Your time will come. You will get a book published. I have no doubt about that.
    *Hugs!* I'll be rooting for you! :) Oh, and whoever was mean to you? Just send them a book with your signature in it when you get published. ;)

    ReplyDelete
  23. Sorry, I didn't realize I wrote a novel in the comments... :)

    ReplyDelete
  24. I'm on my third agented sub and my feelings run differently than yours. As painful as the rejections are, it feels even worse when I DON'T have something out there, because then I don't have a chance of the big dream coming true.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Wow. This is tough. I hope you don't disappear from the blogosphere, though. I think reading other people's words of support might help you get through the nerve-wracking process up ahead. :P Good luck though and I hope all your dreams come true!

    ReplyDelete
  26. Delurking to say that if your book contains even a sliver of the bright personality that you put into this blog, then someone is going to read it, and love it, and buy it right up!

    Wishing you lots of luck!

    ReplyDelete
  27. Personally, I think you're an inspiration.

    Your honesty and willingness to talk about this stuff, especially in a community where so many people prefer to keep their cards close, is amazing!

    Thanks again, Natalie!

    ReplyDelete
  28. I second what Jade said. You are like a breath of fresh air! Good luck and keep your chin up!

    ReplyDelete
  29. I went through almost the same thing a few years ago. I was 23, and I had an offer, and I'd gotten an agent through that offer. And then the offer fell through and it was horrible. And then there was another offer and it fell through and that was horrible, too. And then about a year and a half later, my agent and I parted ways. I'm 28 now. Still unpublished. Still unagented.

    Yeah, I know. Not a Cinderella ending (yet).

    But the thing is, I'm still writing and I'm still happy and even though it's nerve-wracking as all get-out, I still want to send stuff out and have it accepted and have people read it. Obviously, it will suck hard if it happens a third time, but even if it does, I went through it before and came out OK. Just because I don't want to do it again doesn't mean I can't.

    I don't want to go overly spiritual on you or anything, but I'm a big proponent of grace. But the thing about grace is, you don't get a lifetime's supply all at one time. You get what you need when you need it. No more, no less. Stop looking at where you might be in ten months, and start enjoying where you are now. If you do that, I promise you, you'll be OK.

    ReplyDelete
  30. I love how brutally honest you are on your blog. I think there is such a stigma against talking/blogging about the uglier parts of this business that people don't do it. But you do it wonderfully - you don't complain and whine about things being unfair, but rather eloquently share your feelings with us. Even though I am sure you would rather just not have those feelings, I love when you share them.

    That said, I think we will all understand if you aren't around as much while you are on submission. Your number one priority needs to be taking care of yourself, and if you need to step back from the internet to do that, then you definitely should.

    ReplyDelete
  31. Kick that submission's butt! (No matter how you need to do it.)

    And I echo what Liz said about grace. She put it so well.

    ReplyDelete
  32. I can really relate to this post, as I'm sure most writers can. Don't worry about people judging you - on the whole, blog followers are a supportive bunch, and your blog is of value regardless of how well the sub goes. Better luck this time around. You'll definitely get there in the end.

    ReplyDelete
  33. I wish I had some great advice or sentiment to give, but everyone's pretty much said everything that I would've already. I'm sorry it's such a stressful time--but you are a writer and you will make it. I know that doesn't make it any easier...but it will happen.

    ReplyDelete
  34. You're in a unique and difficult position. When I looked back at some of your older posts and realized who some of your friends are...well...this has to be beyond difficult. You started out of the gate together with some and ahead of others...this situation affects your self-concept and self-esteem. Don't feel bad about tuning people out for a while.It has to ache even being friends with them--and then THAT makes you feel bad, darn it!

    It's a vicious cycle; a scab that keeps getting pulled off every time you hear about someone else's "awesome" news. The YA community has developed a kind of cult-like status with it's own brand of superstars. You know some of them personally. It's hard for you to escape it. It was all cool when you assumed it would happen fairly swiftly for you as well, but I'm noticing a number of agented writers who have not been able to sell their books, so you're hardly alone in this, but I know it feels like it.

    If you have to seclude yourself from all the "awesomeness" that's being bandied about in the YA universe, do it. Preserve your sanity and your confidence in your writing ability as you see fit and don't let anyone tell you otherwise. You know what you need and what will bring you peace.

    I do believe your time will come, but having YA superstars as friends, makes that wait difficult--it will also make it that much sweeter when it arrives.

    ReplyDelete
  35. De-lurking to say I know I'm one of the MANY who'd miss your posts if you disappeared. Your honesty is so refreshing :) That said, you absolutely need to take care of yourself.

    ReplyDelete
  36. While I completely understand (I, too, find all that lurking in the blogosphere to be damn depressin) please know that you will be missed should you take leave. My day won't be the same without you. You're my first blog of the day, everyday.

    ReplyDelete
  37. I have to agree with June. I used to read the blogs from all those YA superstars, but now I avoid them. Yours is the only YA writer's blog I read because it's actually real and refreshing and honest. I'm hoping for the best for you this time around! :)

    ReplyDelete
  38. This is it, Natalie! You are such a great writer. Look at everyone who follows your blog! Transparent sounds terrific! I would read it! I know it's scary but you have so many people rooting for you! I can't wait to read your awesome book deal post and see your career just skyrocket. Stay Brave!

    ReplyDelete
  39. Good luck with your submission. I'm new to your blog. Found it at Two Writing Teachers and looking forward to reading your posts. I have the same Thoreau saying on my blog.

    ReplyDelete
  40. I hope your books make it into the hands of the right publisher, because I can't wait to read them! For what it's worth, there's a difference between people being disappointed IN you and people being disappointed FOR you. You haven't disappointed anyone, surely, because you've proven over and over that you write well. Please don't ever doubt that.

    ReplyDelete
  41. Agree w/ Emily M.
    Your posts are evergreen, inspiring & real. But you, sweet Natalie, must take care of yourself.

    We'll always be here. :)

    ReplyDelete
  42. For what it's worth, I'm not judging you, and I don't pity you. In fact, I greatly admire you. I would guess the majority of your readers and online friends fall into my camp. We love you just the way you are, cheesy as that sounds. Frankly, I think you have given better advice and helped me find my way more than any published writer I can think of. You know how? By being you, honest and genuine. It's not true that those who can't do, teach. That's just what those who can't teach say.

    ReplyDelete
  43. I've just gone back into Submissions and in an effort to avoid going back into the black hole, I've asked my agent to not tell me about any passes. Only good news or, worst case, we get to the end of the list without an offer, but then I'm just pushed into the hole once, not every single time.

    ReplyDelete