Monday, March 19, 2012

An Invincible Spring

So. I'm not what you might call the most cheerful person.

I'm a pragmatist. An acute one, even. Which means that this whole crazy publishing business can make me kind of...well...crazy.

There's no right way to write, or get critique, or revise. (No. There isn't.)
There's no one perfect path to being published.
There's no way to know whether the steps you're taking are moving you one step forward or two steps back.

It's true. Frustrating, maddening, terrifying. And true.

If you're used to figuring out how well you're doing by grades, or employer evaluations, or getting a raise...
Dear writer friend, you're going to have to find a different way to gauge your progress, and your worth.
More than that, and especially if you're a pragmatist like me, and you watch this whole writing-and-querying thing go down for awhile, and realize the true subjectivity at work behind everything -
you're going to have to find a way to keep yourself afloat.

I'm still not sure whether I have.
But I do know that I've stopped caring so much about whether and when I get published.

I know. That sounds stupid. Because of course I care, right? I mean, I'm still querying, still working my butt off, still plowing through that new WiP's first draft (one third of the way done as of this weekend, thankyouverymuch.)


Yeah. I care. But I kind of...don't anymore. I want my writing to make me happy. I want it to make other people happy, too, of course. But the reason I started wasn't to hold a shiny hardback or to snag a three-book deal or to have featured advertising on Goodreads or to be a guest on a talk show.

Anyway. Though this might sound depressing to you, and though it has no solid conclusion...somehow, over the last week, I feel better. That's not to say I won't feel worse in a week, or randomly shed a tear over my MS's playlist. That story's still a part of me - always will be, I think. (Seasoned writers, am I right?) But there's something in me saying that even if this book, and the next one, and the seven after that end up in a drawer....it's not the end.

(Not that I know where the end is.)

Thanks for bearing with me in this moment of introspection. I don't know what I'm really saying. And I don't think I have to. Just...I'm surprised, is all. Surprised that, in the midst of the query trenches, I feel okay.

And besides, Spring is just around the corner. Right? 

It has to be.

14 comments:

  1. Every story you write, will always be a part of you, but as time passes, those stories too will find their place.
    Every story you write, will change you as a writer and will change the subsequent stories and those subsequent stories will change the stories that come after.
    Every story you write, will bring you one step closer to spring :) <3

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    1. <3 Thanks, love.
      It just feels like the winter is neverending. And I haven't even been doing this that long. :/

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    2. It isn't :) Haven't you seen the bulbs and flowers everywhere? You'll get there. Your writing is gorgeous. Your books are already making people happy--they're making us happy. Publication is the logical next step and it will happen :)

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  2. I don't know, Leigh Ann. I'm having a hard time buying that. I'd totally call you a cheerful person! True, I've never met you in real life, but you HAVE to have a cheerful base-line, because your posts always are. Even when you write about crap things happening or being depressed about things, your cheerful nature speaks louder. You're a realist, sure. But a CHEERFUL realist. Otherwise, a more negative voice would creep into your posts. AND IT NEVER DOES.

    And "I found myself within an invincible spring" = me LOVE.

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    Replies
    1. Aw, Peggy, you're the best. <3

      Maybe what you're calling "cheerful" I'm calling "engaging and attempting to be not-a-jerk."

      :D

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  3. Love the invincible spring! I know how you feel. Every story we write will always be a part of us. It doesn't matter if it's ever published. Not all our children are shining stars in the public's eye, but they are always special to us.

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  4. It's not the end until you want it to be. That's basically the conclusion I came to in my post today. If you don't want it, don't do it anymore. But if you do, give it everything you've got. Which you are - and I know it will pay off.

    And BTW, somehow "Invincible Spring" led to "Cruel Summer" and that song is now stuck in my head, along with images from the original Karate Kid.

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  5. Lovely post. And your writing already does make other people happy--even if certain MSs don't get out to the world at large, your CPs are so happy WE got to read and enjoy them! And I know pretty soon one of them IS going to make it out to more readers. <3

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  6. You will be published, Leigh Ann. I know it and I return to your blog each day actually anticipating that this will be the day she announces she got "the call." I want to be here with you when it happens!

    I also agree that there is no correct way to write. I didn't always feel that way, but in the last two weeks I received two rejections on my full MS and both agents gave completely opposite advice on how to fix it. What's a writer suppose to do with that? I think its important to trust your instinct and most importantly trust your doubts. Don't be lazy just to say its finished. That's what I tell myself over and over during this tedious editing process. The novel isn't finished until it's on a bookshelf.

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  7. This. Exactly.

    It was exactly what I needed to read today. I've been feeling the same way myself.

    It's so easy to get caught up in the trenches and forget that you're writing because you love it, that you have a story only you can tell. The publishing thing is a bonus. Because it's the stories that matter. Everything else will fall into place. And your stories are amazing. You're going to get there, one way or another. And on your terms.

    And I'm so glad that I'm here for the ride!

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  8. A writer I have great respect for told me that writing a book was the easiest part of being an author. At first I laughed, I mean revision after revision...was that meant to be easy?

    But through the muck of querying and contest-entering and (now) subbing....I can see where he's coming from. The writing is what you do for yourself, because somehow you're called to do it. The stuff that comes after (agents, editors, etc...) has to be the icing on the cake.

    It is SO hard to keep that in mind. So hard to keep the joy when someone tells you that they don't connect with your MC. But here is what I learned. If you put your WIP away, it will sing to you. It will pull you back into it. And you'll come back and it will feel like reuniting with an old friend. THAT has to be worth something right? And someday you'll get a call or an email from someone saying that they love your MC just as much as you do. And that will be great and and awesome. But not quite as awesome as the fact that you created this thing to begin with.

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  9. Fab post, Leigh-Ann. I love the Invincible Spring quote. Last year, I was getting incredibly stressed about being on submission and being rejected, and it was making me miserable. In the end I asked myself, 'does my life depend on getting published RIGHT NOW?' and 'if this book doesn't make it, would I stop writing?' When both answers came out as 'no', I knew that the most important thing was the writing, and that, as Helene says, anything else would be the icing on the cake. So much in getting and agent and publishing is down to chance – the right book reaching the right person at the right time – that you HAVE to be doing it for the love of it first and foremost.

    Oh, and I agree with Peggy - you definitely come across as a cheerful realist. Your blog is awesome, and I really, really hope I will be holding one of your books in my hands in the not-too-distant future! I'll continue to keep everything crossed for you. :)

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  10. A teacher in school once told me that the best sort of job is the one you would want to still do even if you won the lottery. Writing does that for me, which is why I'll never give it up--even if what I write is never deemed publishable.

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