If you’ve been following my publication journey over the past few years, then some of you have probably already guessed that I don’t have a book coming out this year. Usually, you’re not supposed to admit these sorts of trials as an author, but I like to be transparent because I wish more authors were transparent when I was an aspiring author (and I wish more industry professionals would stop frowning upon us sharing these experiences). Alas, being transparent about struggles helps others know they are not alone, and to me, that is important, so I wanted to share my story about going unpublished for the first time since 2012.
There were quite a few factors.
1. I got really sick last year.
Like really, really sick. I danced on the line of homebound more days than not, and to be perfectly honest, I’m still going through treatments with specialists to get better. That’s all I really want to say about that topic, but I’m hopeful that my health will continue to get better and return soon.
Despite being more or less homebound, I was working three part-time jobs from home. Two to pay regular bills and another one to pay off medical bills. Trying to keep up with all of that while trying to get better was too stressful to handle most days. Basically, being sick wasn’t something I could predict on my busy calendar. Scheduling time to write was an impossible, if not laughable, idea at the time.
Sometimes life gets in the way of your responsibilities, let alone dreams, but that doesn’t mean you have to give up the dream.
I still wrote when I could, even though my writing time was dwindled down to a miniscule amount, and I tried not to be too hard on myself when I stared at the number of words (or lack thereof) I was completing any given week.
I am happy that I still managed to finish one novel, a half-novel, and outline a few others. Which brings me to the steps after writing.
2. Choosing Between Opportunities & Taking Risks
About a year ago, I decided I wanted to challenge myself. I wanted to write new genres and explore types of publication I haven’t considered before, and so I did.
I only had so much time to write, so I had to take chances on what I wanted to invest my time in. This often meant choosing between an opportunity that was 99% likely to work out that I felt comfortable in or an opportunity that was 10% likely to work out but I truly, truly wanted. I decided to go for it and tackle the opportunities that scared the hell out of me, the ones that I knew were less likely to work out than not, but also the opportunities that would challenge me and push me to push myself to learn new and exciting skills. In the end, those investments didn’t end with a publishing deal, but they did end with new lessons learned. At least I tried. And I have four great books sitting on my laptop that might one day see the light of day.
I am proud that I submitted a lot. I am excited that I tried new things. I am trying.
Nothing is going to stop me from trying again this year, or next year, or the year after that.
But there is disappointment.
3. So How Does One Cope?
One thing I try to stress to new writers is that publishing has many, many ups and downs. You’ll have years where everything seems to fall into your lap and years where you feel like you’re falling off every mountain you’ve climbed. (Okay. So my metaphors are awful in this piece, but you get it.) Just because one door opens up for you doesn’t mean that all the doors after that will open in unison. It doesn’t even guarantee that the doors you’ve already opened will stay open. Writing a great book doesn’t guarantee an agent. Getting an agent doesn’t guarantee a book deal. A book deal doesn’t guarantee that you’ll get another book published. And so on. Writing is a business, and you have to keep working every day. There is no finish line, but you can keep running. (All right, I’ll stop with the metaphors.)
Basically, coping is important. Staying energized is important. Focusing on the positive but understanding the negative is also important.
Try to remember you are a person, not a writing machine.
Despite all this…
I can’t help but feel like I’m letting down my readers, but I also hope my readers understand that I am trying my hardest to follow the right path, and finding my footing on this new path might take a long time.
Heck, I might not even be on the right path, but I won’t know until I try.
Is it scary? Absolutely. Could it be a massive mistake? Sure it could. But what is art without risk? What is pursuing your dreams without exploring possibilities?
I have no clue when or if I will be published again, but I still love writing, and I am determined to share my words with world again one day. I hope that if you’re struggling with what I’m struggling with that you know you’re not alone and we can share our disappointments/frustrations/confusion just as much as we share our successes. No one’s path is paved in publishing. Every journey is different, but we can at least celebrate that fact.
So let’s keep writing,