Wednesday, May 4, 2011

A Writer Understands

I held back from blogging yesterday because I was feeling, well, crummy. Not sick...whiny. Grumpy. Maybe it was the new moon--sometimes I think those are worse than full moons when it comes to throwing my emotions off-kilter. (Yes, I believe the moon affects people. Work in retail long enough, and you'll see. The kooks all come out at the full moon. And my kids go wild the week before. Call me crazy, I don't care.)

So, instead of blogging, I called a writer friend. Someone who can understand the way I feel. The frustration that comes along with this journey toward publication. It's not just dealing with rejection letters. It's the waiting, even when you know something good is coming. It' s lulls in our writing. Call it being blocked if you will. The point is, only another writer understands.

Only another writer understands the importance of marketing, and the pure frustration over hating it at the same time. Only another writer understands the *need* to write, the absolute drive, when there is nothing given in return--no publication, no money, only a handful of congratulations, and more than a few looks that say, "Yeah, so?"

Only another writer understands the guilt that goes along with spending so much time on a seemingly fruitless endeavor. Only another writer understands the joy of seeing their name in print, even when there is no payment or real recognition for that story.

Non-writers can't quite wrap their minds around this most of the time. They don't see how important writing is to us, how badly we want to make it, how it can be worth so much unpaid time and effort when something like 98% of books never see the light of day.

I have my "non-writer" moments where I can't see beyond that either. Most of me sees this as something I simply must do. I've tasted the wine, and it's good. I'm not putting the glass down. I am absolutely driven to see my name on the spine of a book. And someday, I want to see that book on the shelf of a brick and mortar bookstore, so I am willing to work my tail off.

But another part of me wants to start getting paid for my writing--not just bits and pieces of it, like now, but all of it. I'm tired of giving away my writing. I'm tired of feeling like this will have to be a perpetual hobby. Part of me says it's just not worth it! I have a family to care for. I have other stuff that could easily fill my time. When my kids get a little older, I can go get a job somewhere. Great, you say, that can fund my writing. Sure--but will I have time left to write?

It boils down to this: It's not fair that I get next to nothing for doing all this IF my writing is something other people want to read. And if it's not...then I have no business doing this at all!

So, there. That is the crux of my dilemma yesterday, the reason for my rotten mood. Venting to my writer friend helped. Being understood helped. It cleared my head a bit, and made me take stock of how much I've put into this and my willingness--or lack thereof--to walk away from it all.

A blog post would have given me a chance to spew it all out, too. But it would have come across as an online, and most likely wordy, temper tantrum. Much better to have those in private--or in the ear of a friend. A writer friend who can smack me with some reality. A writer friend who understands.


Jeff Chapman said...

Fortunately or unfortunately, I understand how you feel. It's depressing to work on something with the lingering fear that only some crit buddies and editors will ever read it. I try not to think about it, but it's always there.

Kat Heckenbach said...

Yep. It's frustrating when you know that you've worked as hard as someone else--someone who is getting recognition, selling stories for actual money rather than just copies of an anthology.

Not that I'm griping about those publishers who put out non-paying zines and anthos! Actually, God bless them for THEIR hard work! They're not getting paid any more than we are. It's simply the whole industry.

Alright...enough of that from me! :P