Welcome to Ravenna’s Monday Mumblings!!
This past week, I had the privilege to finally meet Evernight Publishing’s marketing director in person. Not only was this wonderful because she’s a really cool person, but her wisdom and maturity are qualities I’ve long admired. In other words, I want to be like her when I grow up. 🙂
One of the things we discussed centered around how frustrating it is as writers to put your heart and soul into books that don’t sell as well as you’d hoped they would. When you watch someone else write the same kinds of books, and their sales are fabulous, but yours tank. When you spend years learning your craft, and hours upon hours polishing your manuscripts to make sure they’re as clean as possible before submitting them, but for reasons no one can ferret out for you, readers don’t respond. Or, you can’t seem to attract new readers, no matter what you do.
It’s a slippery slope. I’ve written about this subject before. Specifically, THIS post speaks to the issue at the heart of this discussion, at least for me.
Comparison is a thug that robs your joy. But it’s even more than that – Comparison makes you a thug who beats down somebody – or your soul. ~ Ann Voskamp
Comparison is an act of violence against the self. ~ Iyanla Vanzant
Looks like I forgot my own words from earlier this year, because recently I found myself doing it again. Whining (mostly to myself this time) about my shifter series. I’m the only one I know who can write a shifter series and not have it soar up the best seller lists. Wah, wah, wah!!
I slid into a really dark place for a few months there, wondering why people didn’t like me, why they didn’t want to buy my books, or what in the heck I could possibly have done (or that they perceived I had done) to make them turn away. I didn’t do anything. That is simply the nature of this industry.
It’s SUBJECTIVE. I’ve written about that before, as well. One would think I would take my own advice. Because I have such a strong personality, I think oftentimes people forget that I’m also a human being with feelings, and being a Scorpio, those feelings run deep and intense. I’m easily hurt, and I can work myself up into a downward spiral of self-doubt faster than you can say SUBMIT A ONE-PAGE SYNOPSIS.
The talk with Sandra earlier this week helped me put it all back into perspective. I’ve already thanked her for it, but this time I wanted to do it publicly. So once more, Sandra, THANK YOU.
This is a highly subjective industry and intellectually, we all know that. If we don’t know it going in, we quickly learn it. We also learn that being a strong writer isn’t always enough to propel us into superstardom. Some of the best-selling books out there aren’t well written at all. We know that, too. Some of the authors who constantly top the lists aren’t necessarily the strongest writers, but they were lucky enough to have that one book that pushed them over the edge, and now they write to those trends.
No one knows why one book will hit and another won’t. NO ONE. You can’t predict this anymore than you can predict who will love a certain song while others hate it, or who will adore one book cover while others are going “It’s all right, but not the best I’ve ever seen.”
Think about it. Your tastes in art and music are not exactly the same as those of any one person you know. It’s true. If you really break it down, even if you like the same genres in art or music as another person, there will be songs or drawings one of you can’t stand, or at least feel indifferently toward.
And lord help us all if we weren’t like that as humans! We’d be nothing but robots otherwise. It’s our individuality and our free will that make us what we are. Those things should be celebrated, not wished away. The talk with Sandra this past week helped me frame my disappointment with my writing career in those terms, and finally the black cloud that’s been in my brain for months now is starting to lift.
I can tell you one thing. I will NOT be writing shifters again. Sorry, folks, but it’s too damn depressing to work that hard in a genre which is outside my comfort zone, only to watch the books tank miserably from day one. No song writer would continue to pen tunes that he or she wasn’t too keen on to begin with, if people didn’t like them, and musicians didn’t buy them. Writing, like trying to sell music or art, is a business. My royalties are part of my livelihood, and unless I want to choose between eating and paying my bills, I need to write what sells, just like everyone else.
The trick is reconciling what sells with what my muse loves to feed me. I’ve found that combination in writing dark romance. And since I have a sadistic, twisted side to me that was never allowed to fully come out in my writing before, I’m feeding that, too. Might help keep it at bay in other areas of my life, which is always a good thing.
One last note and then I’ll shut up for today. It’s Monday, after all. You have enough to be down about already.
This is not an easy business. Sandra also said something that again, I know intellectually, but I’d forgotten about. She said if writing gets to the point where it’s no longer fun, something is wrong. And she’s spot on with that one. This isn’t supposed to be agony. It’s not supposed to make you sick, or wishing you’d never begun it. It’s supposed to be fun. If it’s truly your passion, it should be the first thing you want to do in the morning and the last thing you want to do at night. It should be the thing that consumes your waking thoughts.
So if you’ve reached that point where you dread writing, or you keep putting it off, or you think like I have for a while now – What’s the point? – then something is wrong. Fix it. Fix it first and then ease back into your writing. In my case, it was my attitude. I needed to adjust it. I needed to remember why I love writing in the first place. For you, it might be something entirely different. Or, you might have something going on in your life right now that has to take precedence. That happens. We can’t avoid reality, after all.
But I’m talking about those of you who have excluded everything else, and are left with only your own thoughts and perceptions standing in the way. That was the case for me. There was nothing in the way but the person I saw when I looked in the mirror.
So now that I’ve figured it out, it’s time to write again. For all the reasons I loved doing it in the first place. 🙂
Until next week, Happy Writing!!