The Lucky 13's have asked a question for the week:
What keeps you going, when the going gets tough?
I know that feeling. That downward roller coaster when your stomach contents reside in your neck as your writing career goes kablooey? I've lived it. Here's a sampling of bad times and what's helped me through the muck.
I can't get an agent/publisher.
I've heard people call rejections "subjections." It truly is a subjective business. I tried hard to turn the rejections into energy driving me forward. Tweak the query letter. Keep working on your writing quality. Have another book coming down the pipe. Reassess your path periodically. Be ready for the worst news, and hope for the best.
I did strongly consider small presses and self-publishing if I couldn't find an agent or get published traditionally. I had confidence this book deserved to be on a shelf (or e-shelf). I'm glad that I had those options open to me.
I have writer's block for this scene/character/plot/sequel.
This regularly tortures me. The Lucky 13's helped me out with sequel angst, and they came to my help with all kinds of suggestions. So talk things through with your writer friends. For some reason, lying a dark, quiet room gets me to brainstorming nirvana. Works on migraines, and works on writer's block too! But sometimes, all that thinking just gets your brain sulci in knots. When that happens, time away from your project is golden.
My writing career is not going as planned.
Whose writing career? Is is yours, or is it someone else's? I've heard so many amazing success stories, and it's unbelievable how varying the paths are. Any success of another writer does NOT diminish your own career as a consequence. Most of us will not be the writer who pours out their first book ever in a few weeks, considers drool-ridden offers from 10 agents, has their book go to auction for over half a million dollars, and snags a movie deal as icing on the cake. Those writers are still human. None of these things gives them the ability to poop sunshine or pee rainbows.
Forget the others and write, write, write. Work on your next project. Consider publishing your work (anthologies, traditional and online journals, etc) so you can keep building your portfolio of writing. Consider alternate pathways of getting to your publishing goal. Find a support group that will tell you you're writing isn't garbage, while also being honest and pushing you to improve.
Chances are that if you are reading this blog, you possess some or all of the following: a place to sleep at night, clothes on your back, food to eat, a loving family, friends, and a computer to access. You are probably not currently hospitalized with a deadly illness. You probably have a fire in your belly about a passion near and dear to you (writing, maybe? Hmmm?).
Don't forget perspective. Things can always be much worse than they already are. Worrying about writerly concerns are truly a first world problem. I need to remind myself of this often. And believe me, perspective slaps me back to reality time and time again.
Lydia Kang is a writer, part-time doctor, and salt-addicted gal with a near-pathological need to doodle. Her sci-fi YA novel, THE FOUNTAIN (Dial/Penguin) will be out in Spring of 2013.
Find her on Twitter, her blog The Word Is My Oyster, and her website.