Thursday, January 12, 2012

Tough Time Trouble

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.

Everything sucks.
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.


  1. Love this post, especially "Any success of another writer does NOT diminish your own career as a consequence" and the reminder at the end that all our writerly concerns, while certainly important to us and worthy of commiseration with other writers, pale in comparison to the problems of other segments of society.

  2. Wonderfully worded, Lydia! You definitely put everything in perspective for authors at EVERY stage of the writing game.

  3. Connie--thanks, and thanks for stopping by!

    Sarah--Our writing stresses are so important, but once in a while the perspective is nice. :)

    Cat--So glad you thought it was representative. Everyone's journey is different, but still--we all have the bad times in common!

  4. These are all such great points. I so agree with it all. I'm tempted to print it and put it on the wall to read during those times we all have.

  5. My writing career isn't going as planned because I never planned to have one!

  6. I feel a million times more positive after reading this - thank you so much lovely Lydia and thanks the Lucky 13s for hosting! Take care

  7. Great pep talk post Lydia!! Thanks.

  8. Great post, Lydia. Time and again, perspective is the one thing that can get me out of any funk. Because no matter how bad I think my life might be now, it could REALLY have sucked.

    Good luck with the op!

  9. Can I first say that I LOVE this place!! The logo is fab. Way to go!

    This is a fabulous post, bringing up good points. I think the more we write and the more confident we become in ourselves the less intrusive another writer's success feels. I know that we're all happy when one of us gets that break, but when I was first writing I had a hard time to overlook that. Now, it doesn't seem to phase me. I'm genially overjoyed for said writer and know that his/her success just brings me closer to my own.

    Thanks, Lydia, for these reminders.

  10. So true! Thanks for the inspiration. Just what we all need for the new year!

  11. Thanks for sharing your insight Lydia!

  12. Hey! Subjections. That's what I say. Great minds think alike.

  13. Great post, Lydia! I love the "subjections" thing. :)

  14. What encouragement! It's nice to know that authors share the same feelings as I do. Thanks for this.

  15. This is one of those great posts that helps to put things into perspective. Things may not be perfect, but we've got a dream and a chance. Got to love it.

  16. That last one really sums up everything.

  17. Yes! Perspective is key! Thanks Lydia! :)

  18. Great post, Lydia! I see a few of my blog buddies on the sidebar list, and I'm looking forward to getting to know everyone else! :)