Wednesday, June 20, 2012

My "Never Surrender" Moment

This week, I've been highlighting Elana Johnson's new novel, SURRENDER, which inevitably lead me to reflect on my own weaknesses and strengths.  Here's what I've come to...

Most weekdays at around 9:30 am, I feel like I might surrender.  Might turn on "House Hunters" or make myself an unneccesary piece of cinammon toast.  Might curl up on the patio with a book I've been wanting to read.  Heck, might just call up my sister and gab for an hour.

But that would be a defeat.

Because, somewhere along life's slippery path, I decided I wanted to be a writer.  And, honestly, deciding was the easy part. Because here's the thing I'm gonna tell you that you may just hate me for: Being an unpublished writer with a dream, getting an agent, and even selling and publishing a first novel were kind of easy parts, too.  Not easy as in quick or non-labor-intensive.  But, compared to the aftermath of that first pub date, all of those accomplishments were pieces of cake.  Complex, multi-step layer cake with chocolate ganache and raspberry filling, but cake all the same.

See, the thing is that after that first book comes out, you never have the chance to be a debut novelist again.  You become an equation involving your advance, your reviews, your Bookscan numbers, and so on.  You have been tested and, statistically speaking, most debut novelists do not wind up in their editors' "win" columns.  You become a risk that your publisher will weigh against the option to pick a NEW debut novelist and take a gamble on someone without that pesky equation pinned to her back.

After that first book comes out, you have also (in all likelihood) made a big fancy checkmark next to the "publish a novel" entry on your bucket list.  You've done it and you've got that box of hardcover copies gathering dust in the corner of your dining room to prove it. Now what? You think back to how hard the whole process was, how little time you've spent with your family of late, and how pale you are from having barely seen the outdoors for the year of writing, revising and promotion. Despite the encouraging and positive press you've probably gotten, the occasional critical jab or blogger dis makes you wonder if you're really the kind of person who should be writing novels anyway.

Now, writer-you is in the life-and-death battle that kind of didn't exist before your debut pubbed. ARE YOU REALLY A WRITER? Because, writers don't spend mornings in front of the tube or eating double breakfasts.  Writers write.  A lot.  They write pitches, proposals, outlines, and even entire manuscripts WHETHER OR NOT the next deal is in place. They write because it's the only way to get better at this difficult craft. They write because they haven't stopped dreaming the dream.

Writers Don't Surrender.   Writers Write.

So, I guess I should mention that right after this, I'm back to my new manuscript. And that, right now, taped to my computer monitor is a little sign:

Get more encouragement for your writing journey from SURRENDER author ELANA JOHNSON on FACEBOOK and TWITTER.


storyqueen said...

This post is awesome. You hit the nail on the head. Starting isn't the hard part.

Managing to keep going? THAT is the hard part.




Gina Blechman said...

I've been following Elana's Never Surrender moments and they've offered so much inspiration. With all the doubt that goes around, you've said the one thing that matters: writers write. Gotta get working on that. :-)

~Gina Blechman

Taffy said...

Love your post! Very insightful into a writers life. Writing is very fulfilling and can be very lonely. Writers CAN'T give up! There are so many stories that still need to be told.

Stasia said...

Thanks for stopping by Shelly, Gina and Taffy. Elana is such an inspiration to me. I was thrilled to write this post in support of her novel. NEVER SURRENDER...JUST WRITE :)

Unknown said...

Thanks for this realistic and honest post, Stasia. I'm eagerly anticipating that book you're writing. ^_^

Vivien said...

I'm just loving all of these Never Surrender posts!! They are such an inspiration. Thank you for sharing :)