I press send on an email. Please, please like my stories! What people don’t tell you is that agents and publishers often don’t respond to your queries. They can’t. They get too many. Sending your work out is a shot in the dark, and you can assume if three months has gone by, they aren’t interested. The ones I appreciate write back, and they might even say something like, “this is lovely writing, but I don’t have the excitement it would require to take this on.” Or they default to, “This is not the right fit for us.” But more often there is silence. It’s simple: supply and demand. Many more writers than there are successful books. How to rise above the waves? It is a combination of luck, the market, and some other sparkle.
Sometimes this publishing business is enough to make me question my future as a writer. Yes, I have published two books, but that doesn’t make me any more appealing, because I am not Cheryl Strayed. Wouldn’t it just be easier to pack it in? I have felt my enthusiasm waning, not going to lie. I haven’t written a single essay, and nothing save an outline has been accomplished toward another project. I can see a life without the gnawing shoulds: I should be promoting my books more, I should write essays, I should write instead of ski.
I’ve never really bought into the idea that someone NEEDS to write. You can love to write. You can feel like you want your voice to be heard. But need? I’m not sure about that. There’s a woman in my community who wrote one book and is done with it. No more books, she says. I get it.
I’m telling you this because I want to keep it real. People often say they are going to write a book. But often, writing is the easy part. Get a thiick skin, people will say. I will counter that with: Keep your lovely fragile skin. That is where the best writing comes from.
People ask me what I’m writing and when they can read my next book and I stammer, embarrassed. What to say? I have two manuscripts I’m shopping, and maybe someday? That some days it is hard to summon up any motivation at all? It’s been a year since I really wrote anything I liked? I don’t know if other writers find themselves in this kind of a limbo. It’s a difficult place to linger. When this gets tough, I look at the letters I have received; the people who have thanked me for what I have written. Isn’t that the best reward?
With trepidation I signed up for a writing workshop that takes place in a few months. I’ll write more about that next time. But writing is isolating, even more so in a small town where all the roads going in and out can drift shut. I might not need to write, but I need to be around writers! Wish me luck, and contact me with questions or thoughts at the contact me tab. (Send me a note if you want to subscribe to the email list! It is not scary–I promise. I always include something I am working on. Even if I don’t like it!)