A writer’s tasks: a lot.
The sympathy a writer gets: not a lot.
This isn’t a woe is me sob story, nor is it meant to persuade anyone to pity us embattled authors. This blog is, however, intended to (most of the time) provide insight on the struggles of developing a manuscript. Throughout the creative journey that is storytelling, a writer ends up wearing many hats—as a novice novelist, every day is a new discovery of just how vast the workload is. Struggling independents and people desperate to get published, this post is a safe space for you to rip your hair out in frustration.
Outsiders looking in, this is for you as well. In my ongoing documentation of creating my book, I may not defend as much as I will explain and describe my troubles to readers, and just plain normal folks who aren’t burdened with carrying around these epic tales in their heads. Not to imply that non-writers aren’t creative or are incapable of spinning a yarn, but an author is typically dragging around their passion like a ball-and-chain.
If you haven’t thought “cry me a river” yet, feel free to do so now. I’ve posted before about the challenges of conveying one’s drive to write while attempting not to sound like a pretentious douche. It’s not easy, especially if you haven’t published anything yet. That is me, as of this writing. The truth is, it may take a looooooong time before I do put out anything. In the meantime, not having a tangible, physical, or even digital representation of my work that I can show off or sell in some official capacity is maddening.
I crave validation, sure, but for me, if I don’t have an end result, a product, then I am hesitant to even discuss it. Too often will I conceal my ambition so I don’t risk appearing like the starving artist, the do-nothing dreamer—a lazy fraud. Despite the sheer volume of work it takes to fine-tune a story, it’s still me/you/us more or less just sitting on our computer all day. That’s a tough image to break.
Impostor syndrome is a universal grievance everyone suffers—we’re aware of how fruitless it is to even consider that we may not be as talented as we think, or simply not good enough, but each and every one of us experiences it. This bogus hindrance betrays all the effort and dedication authors put into their novels.
Think about it: if you’re an indie like me, or just an amateur, you are doing the work of a full staff all by yourself:
Writing – creating, structuring, planning, typing-typing-typing
Promotion – social media networking, ad campaigns, word of mouth, querying, podcasting
Art – covers, videos, GIFs, conceptual sketches, illustrations, digital ads, graphic novels
Editing – revising, cutting, rearranging, rewriting
It’s highly likely that you have a budget of zero to accomplish all of this—on top of a job, family, kids, social commitments, and housekeeping. Even after you finally get your draft as perfect as it can possibly be, you query it off—or process it to be sold via Amazon as a Kindle ebook (which is its own whole thing)—and you have to wait.
You wait for what could be absolutely nothing. Years devoted to putting together your little novel(s) and zilch. The market is flooded with wannabes just like me, and online ratings can kill you. A flippant review over something trivial and you’re dust in the pixelated wind.
The solution to what you do while waiting for a literary agent to contact you, gushing over your manuscript, or thousands of ebook sales to roll in? Write. Yep, start the process all over again in the form of another full-length book, or short stories, novellas, etc.
I recently finished a third draft of my manuscript and am awaiting feedback from the initial beta readers I’ve sent it to. I am fretting over the word count, worrying that since it is my first real book then it can only be so good, and that my skills as a writer are a work in progress. Meaning that while this story is cool, the next one would be a big improvement in quality. That is true any way you slice it, but, man, I really want this one to be great.
If you’re lucky, you’ll be able to dedicate your time to this lonely path as a profession. So, does a burgeoning scribe deserve praise for undertaking the saintly vow of creating entertainment? I don’t know about that, but maybe a “Hey, you do you” would suffice. In the meantime, writers will be on Twitter venting or trying to boost their follower count.
If at the end of the day our work isn’t up to professional standards, or is just kind of bad, then let’s all just enjoy the creative process in the moment. Just edit and correct your typos. Come on, y’all.