Some days ago, Chuck Wendig wrote a blog post about how writing books gets harder after you get published, not easier as some people seem to think. Yesterday, Clarke Award winner Tricia Sullivan wrote about breaking in and then fighting to stay in.
I used to say all the time that it’s easier to break in than to stay in, and Wendig and Sullivan have different paths. Wendig has been growing his readership and having success. Sullivan’s experience is closer to mine: struggling to find a substantial readership and to get her work out there, although she’s been doing it longer and has that award on her mantel.
I have ten books out, and on Tuesday I passed 30K words on book 11. I’m hoping that I’ll be able to get a NY publishing contract for this one, so the backlist bump will hit my self-published work.
And Chuck’s right: I still have all the same insecurities and doubts about the work I’m doing. Worse, actually, is that I sometimes feel that I’ve lost a certain attitude I had when I wrote Child of Fire. I was pretty frustrated when I wrote that book, and I attacked it with an attitude of Fuck it. I’m going to do what I want.
I’m still doing what I want, but the fuck it doesn’t have the same bite. Why? Because that publishing contract was a tremendous relief. I didn’t celebrate it by jumping around and cheering; I flopped into a chair and sighed. I haven’t wasted my life after all.
It’s easy to forget that feeling as the years go by. Even if I never make the midlist and die in obscurity, at least one professional in the field thought my work was worthwhile. Before I was published, I really wanted that. Afterwards, I learned that it’s not enough. It’s something–something good–but it’s just the start.