A while ago (no, I don’t exactly remember when) my writing partner and friend Jared and I were talking about publishing. I was lamenting the fact that I hadn’t published in a while, and that in fact, I hadn’t been very good at submitting. I was going through a “pity me” phase – it happens. I’m not proud of it, but at least I’m honest about it. Anyway, I wanted sympathy for not being recognized as the outstanding artist that I know – at least at some level – that I am. I went through my list of woes – all my rejections, not having time to write, having to work full-time instead of writing, etc., etc., ad nauseam.
Each time I would point out a perceived negative, Jared would counter with something positive.
“I barely have time to write anymore,” I would say with a pronounced whine.
“But you have book signing in a few weeks!” His voice was quite perky and enthusiastic.
“I’m beginning to doubt my abilities as a writer,” I added with a morose tone.
“You have five published books, and not one is self-published or co-published, or anything.” Again – perkiness and light.
We went back and forth like this for a bit, and suddenly the happy, smiling Jared began to scowl at me. I was a bit taken aback (but nothing was a-twirl or a-flutter – sorry, inside joke). He looked at me with quite a stern expression on his face.
“What will it take for you to be satisfied?” he asked in total seriousness.
And in total seriousness I replied, “It may not be possible.”
See, being the publishing junkie I am, with the release of each book it’s like a release of heroin into my blood stream. I want more, and I’ll do anything to have more, and when I can’t have it – well, I’m miserable and whiney. It has nothing to do with reviews, or number of copies sold, or Amazon rating numbers (which no one can make any sense of anyway). It has to do with that thrill of getting a box of books with your name on them on your doorstep. It’s about signing the contract and knowing you’re rushing headlong into the insanity of publishing and loving every second of it. Some people jump out of airplanes to get this rush. Some strap a giant rubber band to their bodies and leap off of bridges. I get my rush producing something that has my name on the cover. And I will do anything for that rush.
Of course, over time that thrill wears off and you want it again . . .
and again . . .
and again . . .
but a lot of this isn’t up to the author. The market sucks right now. Agents are ultra conservative on the books they choose to sign up. Editors are just as conservative, so there is less and less room in the publishing forum, and more and more people who want in. And on a side note – somehow, crappy books are still being published. Go figure.
So over a year ago, I returned to writing with a vengeance. I’ve written half a novel with Jared, and a complete YA speculative fiction on my own. I’ve revised both projects and started on a third, with plans for the fourth and fifth works in the next six months. I am actively submitting – and actively collecting rejections. It is hard to stay focused. It is hard to stay positive, but as Jared says, “We will never stop.” And he’s right. Neither of us can function properly if we aren’t writing. Neither of us can imagine doing anything else for the rest of our lives. We will work whatever jobs, and do what’s necessary to pay bills, but there is no satisfaction without writing.
So – when will I be satisfied? When I keel over dead at my computer and my nose lands on the “F” key. Until then, I’ll keep searching for that next high, and the next one after that, and so on. There is no cure for this – but I’m perfectly fine with that.