Thursday, September 3, 2015

Writing is a strange, funny business

Last weekend I attended a retreat with other writers.  Some of them were rockstars in the business with movie deals and titles on the New York Times Bestsellers List.  (Did I do the capitalization thing correctly there?).  Others had published one book.  Others were somewhere in between.

I fretted about going.  Would I walk away feeling bad about my writing life, especially when compared to other authors who are a lot more prolific--and, yes--successful than I am?

But here was my surprising takeaway.  No matter where you are as a writer on your writer's journey, you can find something to feel bad about if you choose to.

--You can feel bad that you aren't making money, even if you write the kinds of books that win prizes.

--You can feel bad that you aren't winning prizes, even if you write the kinds of books that make money.

--You can feel bad that your debut novel didn't earn out its advance and so now publishers are unwilling to take you on.

--You can feel bad if you've had a relatively long career but still have to pitch your new manuscript like you've never been published before.

--You can feel bad if you read reviews on Goodreads and people say you suck.

What interested me was how many writers there kept saying they wanted to find a way back to the joy they used to feel when they wrote.  I didn't expect to hear that, since some of these people are the very ones living the Writer's Dream.

My point?  Or points?

--It's easy to feel isolated in all kinds of ways when you write, and when you feel isolated, you start imagining that someone somewhere is doing everything a whole lot better than you are.  And they probably have cuter shoes than you do, too.

--It's human nature to want what you don't have.

I walked away Saturday feeling . . . okay.  And committed to the idea that first and foremost, a writer's life should bring you at least a little satisfaction.


James said...

Very good points, and I think good points for living, not just writing. People seem to compare themselves with the fantastical other person, not the true person. Keep up the journey of finding satisfaction in what you write. I sure do.

Emily said...

Yes. This.

Dr Write said...

Thanks, you.

Megan Goates said...

I love it when you do things like go to writing retreats, despite being conflicted, and bring back perfect insights that people (i.e. me) need to hear a writer say to them. Thank you.

Lisa B. said...

So good. Thank you for these reports and insights, because they mean something to a writer, such as myself.

Paige said...

It's much of what you told us in your ending comments at WIFYR. Of course I would have liked to have been published already but reading your blog and others regarding the same topic and FB comments circling around, makes me appreciate the journey more. Of course I'm just as confused as ever about so many things but also realizing that we do really have to walk our own journeys and not try to follow someone else.