April 7, 2014 by Renee
I’ve been writing most of my life, but only tackled “serious” writing about five years ago. Before that it was short stories for my own amusement, poetry (terrible poetry) and emails, letters, etc. to make friends laugh. So, when I started down the “writing to publish” road, I had no clue what waited for me. I’ll admit there were many tearful moments and lots of f-bombs and other curses. In the end, I’ve learned a few things:
- Writing is hard.
- Publishing is harder.
- Quitting is tempting.
- Vodka makes me vomit for days.
- Repressed anger gives me a rash.
- Houses do not clean themselves.
Selling books is a tough road, particularly if you take the Indie route. Without the right connections, word of mouth, etc. your book, no matter how fantastic it is, could sit on that virtual shelf forever without selling more than a couple of copies. My first two sold very few copies via Amazon and such. I sold a ton locally, though. (Sadly, I was stupid about pricing and it actually ended up costing me money. Live and learn, right?) But I was obsessed with WHY those books just wouldn’t budge. And reviews? Pfft. Good luck.
At some point, we all have to face reality and decide whether this is the right path for us. I’m writing about this today, because I just read a farewell blog post by an indie author who just can’t do it anymore. It makes me sad, and it makes me a little angry, because a large part of this person’s decision to give up is the bullying nonsense that’s become a problem on Goodreads, Amazon, and other review-type sites. This author is doing what is best for her. Publishing (both indie and traditional, as well as the review process and social media) chewed her up and spit her out and she feels she is emotionally, financially, and psychologically unable to continue writing or publishing.
Reading that post broke my heart.
And now that we’re approaching “emotional” territory, I shall add the obligatory cutest animals ever picture to ease you into the feels.
Ready now? Okay, so I’ve been pretty open about my own issues with the whole process. I have days where I want to quit. I have moments (probably way too many) when I read my writing and feel like I’m completely useless and horrible. I’ve also been torn between my personal obligations to my family and friends and the demands of writing, marketing, etc. For example, when my dad passed away, I had many dark days where I seriously considered packing it all in. Lucky for me, I have a hard time quitting anything.
But I had to give myself a reality check recently where I asked myself what the hell I was doing. Should I continue writing? Why? Why not? Would I ever be successful (in my opinion)? If I’m not, does that make a difference?
After a lot of soul searching, I decided I needed to stop writing for other people and I quit freelancing. Why? It’s not a reliable way to make money when you don’t have the experience or education to back you up (helps to get the good jobs and clients), and it can be soul-shattering. I had to face the fact that most of my self-doubt over the past few years has stemmed from my freelance work.
So, after convincing myself it wasn’t “giving up” I stopped the freelancing and started searching for a “real” job. I discovered something interesting: with the freelancing gone, I WANT to write again. Since early last summer, I’ve only written because I felt I should. It’s nice to actually need the experience again.
I guess the reason I’m writing this is to say to anyone else out there hovering over the “This is bullshit and I can’t do it anymore” button, you’re not the only one. We all have moments when enough is enough. We all hate querying. We hate rejection. We cry or get blind drunk over bad reviews. We cringe at the social media bullshit, and we have a “List.” (Okay, maybe that’s just me.) But if writing makes you happy, don’t let that shit get in the way. Keep going. You don’t have to publish, but don’t stop doing what fills your soul with the good, fluffy shit that makes you smile.
I also want to say to anyone reading and reviewing books, remember the person behind the book you’re reading is human. I’ve been guilty of scathing reviews too, but over time I’ve realized no matter how terrible I think the book is, a monumental effort went into its writing. Be honest. Don’t sugar coat your opinion. If you don’t like a book, you don’t like it. Whatever. But let’s leave the author and her ancestry out of it. Let’s not make assumptions about how much time or effort she did or didn’t put into the book. Let’s tell other readers why we think the book is worth reading or not, and leave it at that.
For those of you that can’t handle negative reviews, just stop. Don’t read them at all. Seriously, you’ll drive yourself batshit.
For those of you engaging in debates, arguments, etc. with idiots on these review sites or anywhere else online: Bang your head against a wall every time you feel the urge to comment. You’ll see better results.
And I have a question for other writers out there: What keeps you going when everything (or everyone) else is telling you to quit?