Spinning Wheels

Readers, we have a problem. It’s not you. It’s me. All me. Okay, I have a problem. That’s more accurate. You guys are great. Me? Well, I’m ridiculous.

For the past several months, I’ve felt like I’m spinning my wheels, but getting nowhere. Yes, I’m writing a lot, publishing a good amount of short fiction too, but I went from publishing a book every few months to publishing nothing (independently) for about a year. A YEAR!! I keep wondering if my readers are forgetting me, because they’re all caught up and I’m not giving them anything new.

I’ve got friends getting agents, sharing new releases, being all successful and shit, and I’m over here soothing my feelings with ice cream and potato chips, trying to be happy for them, feeling shitty because I’m like “And what have YOU accomplished lately, Renee?”

Well, that’s what my head tells me. I know it’s bullshit. I’m doing FINE. I am. Really.

If this were someone else telling me these things, I’d be all “Oh, come on! Some authors publish once a year or less. Get over yourself.” And I will, but I need to vomit my insecurities somewhere so I can feel better. You’re all cool with that, right? Sure, you are.

So anyway, I have tons of ideas. Got a notebook full of them, so I don’t forget a single one. I have enough ideas to keep me going for a long time. Haven’t started writing them, though, because I have to “feel” it before I can do that. (Yes, I’m THAT person. Shut up) And I have been writing. I’ve got 23 short stories on submission (3 of those are novellas), and a dozen more I need to find the right potential home to submit to. Some of that dozen are shit, so they’ll probably never be published, though. So, let’s say I’ve got 30 not yet published pieces total. That’s a lot of writing over a period of a few months. Nothing to sniff at.

But I still feel like nothing new is out in the world. Well, nothing longer than 10,000 words anyway. In the coming months, I’ll have two novellas published (one with DarkFuse and one with Unnerving), and I’m releasing a second Milo Smalls book (novella) as soon as I get my shit together and finish editing and find myself a cover. I’m good. It’s okay. As I said, I’M FINE.

So why do I still feel like I’m spinning my wheels? Slacking even. Like I’ve stopped and then shifted into reverse.

As I said, I’m ridiculous. Fine, but ridiculous.

You know what? I think it’s because I don’t have any novels heading toward publication. My brain is trained to write novels, although the short fiction is really awesome and I am addicted to writing it now. Who cares if you’ve published short stories here and there? Where are the big ones? The important ones. That’s dumb. I know it. Yet, here we are.

And it’s not that I haven’t finished any novels. I have a handful of rough drafts, but they all suck. (But really, they’re awful.) Sometimes that happens. You go with an idea, write the 80,000 words or so, and in the end, you have to make the hard call and say it’s not worth putting out into the world. Maybe that’s what’s bugging me. I haven’t written a novel I like even a little bit in about a year. Add the continuous rejection of the submission process into that and the self-esteem takes a bit of a nosedive.

(Feeling sorry for me yet? Despite what I’m implying here, I don’t want you to feel sorry for me. It’s not a pity party.)

So I’m not just sitting here doing nothing. I can relax. I can be happy that I’m writing every day. I won’t think about the fact that out of those 30 short stories I’m submitting, maybe 2 or 3 will be accepted… ugh. Statistics suck.

I know what some of you are thinking right now. “She’s a fucking lunatic.” I’m not. Writers aren’t crazy. Most of us are quite sane. We have to be able to focus to produce books, and we have to be organized to market and sell said books. We also need a thick skin to get through times like this, when we feel like this game just isn’t for us. We have to be able to push aside the self-doubt and anxiety to keep moving forward. That takes some serious mental and emotional fortitude. I sound nuts, but I’m not. I’m FINE.

You might say, “Hey, why don’t you just publish all of that stuff yourself like you were doing before?” I could do that, but self-publishing is part of a long game for me. I never intended to limit myself to “indie” only. Yes, I will still put out my own stuff, but my long-term plan includes publishing traditionally too. So, I want to sell short fiction to amazing publishers, a novel or two if I’m lucky, and release titles independently alongside that. Why? The rationale behind it is kind of confusing. Maybe it’s not. I don’t know.

Yes, I like the validation publishing traditionally provides (I know I don’t need it), but I also like the freedom indie publishing allows. (Indie allowed me to explore erotic horror and comedy, which I LOVE writing) And, let’s face it, I’ve been far more successful earning money with publishers than I have on my own. Maybe that will change. Maybe it won’t. I don’t know. Selling short fiction in traditional markets also broadens my network. I’ve met amazing readers, authors and editors since I picked up the submission game again, and that’s important in this industry. You can go it alone, but you shouldn’t actually go it ALONE. You need networks of people to help you put your brand out there.

So, I tell myself I’m on track, because I am. I’m finally where I wanted to be many moons ago, and I’m steadily moving forward, even if my wheels spin now and then. Still, when someone says ,”Have you published anything new?” I cringe before I direct them to the most recent short story I’ve published. It’s silly, isn’t it? Yes, it is. I’m silly. Still fine, though. Everything’s okay.

I feel a little bit better. You all look a little rough, though. It’s not easy wandering around inside my head.

I’m curious about the other writers out there. How do you measure your progress? Do any of you have a long-term plan? What do you do when you start feeling like you’re slipping backward? Is that cake?


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