So, I'm having a baby tomorrow! Very excited, but suffice it to say I probably won't be around much this summer. I hope you will stick around nonetheless, even though my posts will be fairly sporadic.
When you get to the "Going To Be Published" phase of this whole writing journey, people constantly ask for advice (both writers and non-writers). Which is fine. I like giving advice actually, though I usually pad it with a lot of disclaimers about how every path is different and you have to find what works for you. But what's interesting is that my advice is always changing, mostly based on what I'm going through at the time.
Today I wanted to share the advice I've been dealing out lately. I figure that's a good way to leave the blog while I get used to having three kids.
• Publishing won't make you love writing more. I know the goal for many writers is to publish—it was my goal, too—but I try to emphasize to unpublished writers these days that publishing doesn't fix whatever emotional struggles you face on the journey. Yes, it's great to know my book is coming out next year, but it also doesn't make it magically easy to write. It doesn't bring me as much validation as I thought it would; in fact, I still constantly feel like a noob or a fraud or just plain insecure. If you can't find it in yourself to love writing now, nothing will fix that except digging inside yourself and figuring out why.
• It's ALWAYS about the next book. Some things change constantly in publishing, but one thing remains same: There's always another book to write. If you really want to be a writer, you should always be working on another book. When I was querying, I took this advice to heart...maybe too much, since I got an agent with book #8. When I was on submission to editors, I still wrote other books. Which turned out to be a good thing because I didn't sell book #8—TRANSPARENT is book #10. And guess what? Even after I sold, I had an option book to figure out. So it was a good thing I had two other books I'd written post-TRANSPARENT to show my editor.
Even now, after my contract has been settled, I still want to sell more books, which means I have to write them! Usually now when a writer is telling me their troubles, I sympathize, but I always ask if they're writing something new. If they're not, I tell them to start. Putting that hope into the future somehow fixes things. Focus on the writing—everything else falls into place when you do that.
• Write what you love. Maybe it's not marketable. Maybe it's just plain weird. Who cares? Losing your passion for writing and stories is far worse than not being published, trust me. That is what creates the misery. Don't try and fit into a box that can't hold you. Don't worry about what everyone else is doing. It's really not worth it. Own your voice. Find the right place for it. And be happy about that place.
And...that's about it! My advice has gotten pretty simple these days. I'm not sure where all the zen is coming from, but I'm not about to question it. I've spent the last six years having a massive angst-fest over all this stuff, so it's nice to finally be in a place where I'm just happy with my situation. Far from ideal as it is, it works for me. Hooray for good places. I hope you can find yours.