Writing and a Writer’s Life, here we go again, another year in the trenches.
A Writer’s Life is Hard
Writing is hard. Let’s face it. If it were easy, everyone out there writing a novel would have a book deal. Agents would earn more money than CEOs of big tech firms, and I would be out of business. In addition to writing my own novels, I work as a developmental editor for Allegory Editing. I love the duality of how I spend my time. Part of the day, I’m honing my craft, another part of my day, I’m helping others hone theirs. The rest of the time I can usually be found reading great books (or even just “good” ones, those are valuable too) or playing with my horses.
It’s not a bad life.
It also means I spend a lot of time thinking about what it is to be a writer, what it means to write, what the stakes are for all of us out there submitting our work, facing rejection, and heading back to the drawing board. As we roll into 2022, I’m a year older than I was in 2021. I’ve endured another year of the pandemic, of loss, and grief, but also moments of grace and beauty, some of which revolved around writing. So I thought I’d take about a thousand words and share those thoughts with all of you.
Writing is Vital to a Writer’s Life, Publishing is Not
For a writer, writing is vital. The act of creative thought, set down on paper, scribed into a computer file, is vital. Publishing isn’t. We are writers whether we publish or not, because the act of writing makes it so. Publishing is icing on the cake. Sure, it’s also income, but no one is in this game to get rich. Even Stephen King didn’t know he’d become a millionaire a few times over when he started out. That didn’t stop him from writing, as the rejection letters filled up the spike he drove in the wall, he never gave up.
We write because we are writers, not because we are published, if that were true, we’d be publishers.
Traditional Publishing is Hard
The process is painful and confusing. There’s no handbook given out when you start your writing career that says, follow these steps and a book deal will materialize. That’s because all our journeys are different. One writer queries once and lands an agent, another publishes with a small press for years, only to have an agent contact them for representation, selling their next book for $250,000. Another writer queries 150 times and finally gets a yes, which turns into a book that sells 11 million copies world wide. Each one of those examples is a writer I know personally. Not to mention all the excellent writers who are still out there in the trenches working toward their first deal.
My own journey continues to unfold, sometimes in unexpected ways. It’s never “done” it’s just on to the next project. The only guarantee of failure is giving up. The only potential way to succeed, is keep working. Keep writing, keep learning, keep submitting. If you don’t have a tough skin, consider getting into another game.
Self-Publishing is Hard Too
Self-pub might seem like the easy way out, but hardworking writers can tell you it’s not. Sure, the writer has control, but they also have all the marketing, the promotions, the editing, cover art, ISBN numbers, the proofreading, the copyediting . . . catch my drift? It’s not easier to write well if you self-pub, in fact the opposite is likely true, as there are no built-in measures to protect writers from themselves. Self-pub authors must be intensely vigilant of their own quality. And the average writer sells a couple hundred copies, which won’t make up for the cost of producing a polished final product.
There’s no easy way to become a published author. And the work never stops. There’s the next book, and the one after that.
Writing and a Writer’s Life is a Choice
No one is forcing any of us to take this route. No one holds a gun to our heads (or even a pen) saying “get thee to the computer and produce pages!” We do this to ourselves. Because we are writers and there’s nothing else to be done.
It’s freeing, if you think about it. That we can walk away anytime we want, like a famous actor walking away from Hollywood. But we can also do what we do, and keep writing. The rest will come. Or it won’t. But that won’t change who we are.
Writing into 2022
So here we are, writing into the new year. New projects. New hopes and aspirations. I will continue to write. I will continue to work with others. I’ll continue to support all the writers I know on their journey, whether for their first book or their twenty-fifth. Because that’s what I do, no matter whether I publish or not.
Wishing all of you writers out there a healthy, happy 2022. I hope some of your writing dreams come true, because having dreams unmet keeps us working.
Elena Taylor is the author of All We Buried, available now in print, e-book, and audio book format at all your favorite bookstores and on-line retailers.
For more information on All We Buried, click on the link here to visit the home page.
Silver Falchion Award Finalist, Best Investigator 2020
Foreword INDIE Award Finalist, Best Mystery 2020
Featured Image from Pixabay