Monday, October 6, 2014

Spacey Squared

Ever since I decided I was on a break, it's like my brain completely shut down. It packed its bags, put up the "On Vacation Do Not Disturb" sign, and has drifted off into a blissful state of refusing to work properly.

I have forgotten to answer emails from important people. I keep forgetting I have to fix something on a certain book and must review the PDF. The books I'm supposed to read for blurb completely slip my mind. Today I realized it was NOT the 13th but the 6th. Last week I forgot to pick up my kids from early out day. It's really quite hilarious just how much my brain is throwing out.

I'm not sure what this is. Maybe it's stemming from my extreme desire to not work right now. Like, I think of working and there is only gnashing of teeth and wailing. So maybe my mind is blocking stuff out so I can keep pretending I have zero to do, when in reality I still have a couple things on the plate but a lot less than before.

Hopefully it'll wane quickly, because I do need to find some kind of balance. I've so loved being a not writer, but I know at some point it'll be time to get back to work. Not just the writing part but all the business parts of it as well. Might need my brain for all that stuff.

This is a lesson for me, though, as embarrassing as some of my forgetfulness flubs have been (like today when I thought my friend's book was coming out tomorrow but it's next week). Or maybe it's a re-learned concept.

I can't do this to myself, this insane pushing I've done this year. I wanted to say I gave this author thing my 100% effort—I think so I could be sure it wasn't my fault if my books failed. Authors get a lot of the blame, you know, even though the vast majority of what makes a book successful is entirely out of an author's hands. Publishers make it feel like your fault. Reviews do, too. You keep hearing that if you, as an author, could just SELL MORE BOOKS—then you wouldn't be rejected, you'd get more books deals, you'd get more marketing, whatever. (This might actually be true, but I have not yet achieved the quota that qualifies me as "selling more books.")

While you try to tell yourself it's not true, I think we all internalize that a little. We think it's our fault for not selling more books. Even after I came to realize that it's a publisher's responsibility to use the rights they purchased to the best they can—and not at all on me—I still felt like it was maybe my fault. So I tried very hard with the means I had. I attended the conference I could and traveled on my tiny budget. I published many books and tried to get them out there to build a backlist. I held giveaways and did the social media thing. All the doing, because maybe just maybe it was my fault and that would all change it.

…but it didn't, not really. I still sell at the same steady, slow pace. I have lovely readers who are kind but I'm still an author people don't know well. None of my effort has earned me favor with, well, anyone in publishing. It's still just hard. I'm bummed that' it's been three years since I sold in the US and sometimes wish I had the money to move to the UK where they kinda like me a little more.

But sad story aside, all that trying at least taught me once again that I can try myself into the ground and it won't make it so I'm in control of how my books are received. That is still true past querying, alas. I'm super good at trying—I think a lot of writers are—and I see other authors who are even better at trying, and sometimes it frustrates me that all the trying doesn't get the equivalent results. I'm really glad that I still tried though, oddly enough, because now I can let go again and be okay with my lack of control. I know it's not my fault. It's been out of my hands all along no matter how much it feels like people tell me differently. Really all I can do now, as every writer should know, is write another story and another. That's the only thing we can control, and it's probably why we like the writing part so much.

So I will continue to be my spacey-on-vacation-brain self for now. Without writing but still thinking of stories and dreaming and remembering how to hope. When I come back, I hope my brain will come too! We'll have lots of worlds to explore together.


  1. Hard as it is to get published, it is incredibly hard to *stay* published. Which is mind-boggling! But you're right: for a storyteller, the stories will always be there. And the places where we can tell them are constantly evolving.

  2. Writing is one thing, and like you say, we enjoy that. It's all the stuff that comes after that can be a bear.

  3. an honest and inspiring post, thank you.