Friday, November 30, 2012

Deja Vu

As I'm finishing up a heavy line edit on HOUSE OF IVY AND SORROW for my editor, I'm starting to realize that very soon my book contract will be over and done with. Completed. The end. I have maybe three more edits of Jo's story, and then I'll kind of be back to where I was two years ago when I was preparing for submission for TRANSPARENT.

Weird.

When you want to sell a book and haven't, I know it's hard to picture the "other side" as anything but awesome and way better than where you are. But I'm starting to learn that it's really not so different at all. Yes, I sold two books. I feel super lucky. I AM lucky and happy and excited for my debut.

But who's to say it'll happen again?

I sure hope it will, and at the same time I'm very aware that I'm right back to where all novels begin: working on a manuscript, loving it, wondering if anyone else will, hoping it will sell if I can manage to finish the darn thing. Lots of stuff has changed since I sold, and yet I've found the work of writing and trying to publish remains the same no matter what phase you're in.

Truth is, being published once doesn't guarantee anything. It's always about the story you're working on and if it's one an editor wants to buy. Or not buy. For example, I wrote something this summer that my editor passed on. And with good reason. I certainly don't blame her, because looking at it now I don't think it's something I put my all into. I don't have the proper passion for it, which means I'll probably have to set it aside out of necessity. Because this business is too hard to waste effort on something you don't 150% love.

So yeah, you can still strike out, even after you've sold a book. You can still write a story that isn't quite good enough. You can still feel like you have no clue what's going to happen with your writing, or that you may never sell again, or that you aren't sure what the next best move is.

At least I hope so, because I've been feeling that way a lot lately. And I think it's okay. In a lot of ways it's nice to have that freedom back—to write what I want to write without anyone telling me what I should be doing. It's also scary, standing at yet another precipice, unsure of what lies ahead or if I'm ready to take that jump.

Potential. It's everywhere. Exciting, scary, bright, unpredictable potential. I just have to wait and see if any of it comes to fruition.

12 comments:

  1. I see that the challenges of writing never quite go away. But at least you have a pretty gook to hand to people!

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  2. "Because this business is too hard to waste effort on something you don't 150% love."

    AMEN.

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  3. I don't think you'll have to worry about not selling another book. Once readers get their hands on your words, they'll come back for more, and editors will asking you to fill the demand.

    Still a challenge, but one that comes with an awesome reward.

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  4. Very insightful post, Natalie! Good luck with the line edits! :)

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  5. "Potential. It's everywhere. Exciting, scary, bright, unpredictable potential. I just have to wait and see if any of it comes to fruition."

    Hear hear. :)

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  6. There's always a challenge at each step of the journey. I try to remember that as I'm still working to get published. I'm glad there are people like you to keep me hopeful but grounded with realistic expectations.

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  7. I love the "exciting, scary, bright, unpredictable potential" you talk about. There are so many stories out there yet to be written! Maybe your next one will be a story that resonates for generations. :-) --Christi

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  8. Thanks for being brave enough to share your insecurity with us. When a writer's only in the "aspiring to" category, it can seem like published authors must live in a land of fairytales, rainbows, and kittens.

    And a BIG thank you for saying that: "this business is too hard to waste effort on something you don't 150% love." I haven't written in several months despite my CPs prodding. I have ideas for books, but I'm not sure they're good enough and, bottom line, I'm not as in love with the new ideas or characters as I was with my last few novels. I'll wait until something awesome makes me fall in love. ♥

    It's hard to think up great ideas, but since you obviously have the talent to get a stellar agent, I'm sure something wonderful will inspire you soon! Good luck! :-)

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  9. I read something similar to this in Lawrence Block's Writing the Novel From Plot to Print. He was talking about still (at the time of the writing in the late 80's) having novel ideas that don't sell. And, he'd been publishing for 30 years at that point.

    I'm still on the outside looking in, and sometimes I find that hard to believe. I know it's true. It just feels like, once you get published your in, and you're in for life.

    Reality is a far different creature.

    I just hope, for myself and everyone who's trying to get published, that it isn't all in vain, that we can make a career out of the words we spill onto the page each and every day.

    And, I really can't think of something to top that last sentence.

    Thank you for sharing :)

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  10. I really appreciate you providing perspective from "the other side." I can see what you mean, on a smaller scale with the sale of stories.

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  11. Thank you for this post, Natalie! It is very inspiring especially for young writers who dream to be published. You are an inspiration to us. :)

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