Last week was my four-year anniversary as a published novelist. I want to thank everyone again for coming to hang out with me at the chat party. If you haven’t received your winnings yet, you will very soon. 😉 Four years can seem very long at times, but then you look at the big picture, and it’s really just a drop in the bucket. It’s not all flowers and rainbows, either. More like a crazy roller coaster ride with a schizophrenic at the controls. You learn a lot along the way. I mean, you read all the advice online of what to do and what to avoid, but even when you think, “Pfft, that’s common sense,” it’s very different when it actually happens to you.
But this isn’t about lessons. It’s about the experience itself, and what every author out there has felt (or should feel) at one point or another.
It’s inevitable. Every time you ask for approval, be it from agents or publishers, the possibility of rejection is always there. But it’s not always bad! Finding out where you don’t belong is just as helpful as finding out where you do belong. As beginners, we all cast our net as wide as we can, hoping something will snare. In that respect, rejection makes us become better fishermen.
It’s what we all strive for, and it feels like a million bucks when it finally happens. Doesn’t matter if it comes from a magazine that just printed your short story, or a Big 5 publisher with whom you just signed a five-book deal. That little YES is the biggest thing in the world for a writer.
3. Critique (and criticism)
Because we all need it. I don’t care how experienced you are, or how good you think you are, we never stop learning or evolving. We need to be told when something sucks, because we don’t always see it ourselves. It keeps us humble, and it keeps us striving to better ourselves.
4. Having an editor say they LOVE your book
Let’s face it. Unless you send your baby out to a dozen beta readers, your editor is your very first reader and critic. They can make or break your confidence with a handful of comments in the sidelines. But when that comment is a heartfelt reaction to the highlighted passage, it’s like your life makes sense again.
5. Having a reader ask when the next book will come out
This is an awesome one, and a scary one. If you are one of those crazy overachievers who can churn out a book a month, this kind of response validates everything you’ve striven to accomplish. If, however, you’re like me, and it takes you a year to put out a book, you rejoice at this enthusiastic response, but on the inside you get paranoid that readers won’t wait for you. That they’ll have forgotten all about you by the time the next book comes out. Either way, it keeps you writing more.
6. Reading a book you wrote a year ago and still loving it
We all have that hidden stash of stories we’ve written way back when. It’s hidden away under lock and key because we’re too scared to look at the atrocious mess we used to think was worthy of paper and ink. We refuse to acknowledge its existence. But every once in a while you pick one out of the bunch, and it’s not as bad as you thought it was. Sure, the others suck, but this one has potential. You still laugh at that joke there! And, oh, this scene is still your favorite of all time. It’s great to look at the crap and realize how far you’ve come, but to find a gem and realize you always had it in you… that’s priceless.
7. Getting a scathing 1-star review
It’s a rite of passage, like having your hair torn out of your skull bit by bit, or wearing gloves filled with fire ants for a few hours, or having your body scarred in the pattern of crocodile skin by a group of men armed with tiny razor blades. It hurts like hell, makes you doubt everything you’ve achieved up to that point, but it always comes, sooner or later. You’ll cry over it, and then you’ll learn from it. I don’t think you ever get over it, but it makes all future ones easier to bear.
8. Hosting a party and having 50 people RSVP but only 3 show up (all of them your friends)
Because, yeah, this happens LOL. Social media creates a false sense of fame and popularity. It’s a great way to waste time, when we have time, so “Liking” and commenting on random stuff throughout the day is no biggie. But having to actually make plans to take time out of our days to attend an event (even if it’s virtual) is a different matter. If you’re not expecting it, it knocks you down a few pegs.
9. Being told you’re a reader’s new favorite
I don’t think there’s much I can add to this. I have favorites. Most of them are bestsellers whom I’ve been reading for years. You hope and dream to one day be one of those lucky people who get their own “shelf” or category on an eReader, but you don’t expect it to happen until maybe you hit that Bestsellers list you’ve had your eye on since forever. That’s what we’ve been told. Reach a million readers, and they’ll automatically love you. Well, that’s not how it works in real life. Most writers never get anywhere close to those lists. Which is why it can be such an unbelievably sweet surprise to hear we’ve become “favorites” anyway.
10. Getting a reality check (related to #8 above)
Cheer leaders are great. You absolutely need people in your corner to support you when you’re feeling blue. BUT support doesn’t mean constant praise. It means being honest and telling it like it is. Yeah, you’re a great writer. That doesn’t mean you’re handing out autographs when you walk down the street, so stop carrying your own head shots in your purse and whipping out a pen whenever someone tries to ask what time it is. We all need to hear that every once in a while.
Do you agree? Do you have your own list? Share in the comments. 🙂