In a typical week, I may spend as little as 30 waking hours in the company of another human and 14 of those are on Sunday. I might live on the extreme edge, but it’s the nature of writing that requires we spend a good deal of time alone. Some of you are able to write in Starbucks—I stand in awe—but I must write in isolation, and yet, I don’t feel isolated at all.
Through a kind of magic I don’t attempt to understand, I’m connected to The Internet. That situation is both good and bad for a writer. Good because I’ve found a lot of other writers more or less as isolated as I am, which is a joy; I’m able to do a lot of research for writing projects without leaving my seat; and I can learn about the publishing business—but that last one can also be a bad thing.
When I started writing seriously, I did so in a state of ignorant bliss. My train of thought rumbled along this track: I love books … I can write … I’ll write a book … I’ll get it published. As simple as that. And so it began. Sometime during the writing of my first novel, I realized I didn’t know how to write as well as I thought, so I bought a book on writing, then another … or six. But still, I didn’t know anything about publishing, and though I had an internet connection, I never thought to research that aspect. Or maybe at that time, agents, editors, and publishers had not yet availed themselves of the technology. Whatever. I remained blissful.
Then, real life interrupted and I, for the most part, let my writer’s life slip away. When I returned to it, I discovered that agents had blogs, editors had websites, and magazines published digitally. My writer’s world had opened up. Unfortunately, this new fount of knowledge informed me it doesn’t matter how much you love books, or that you can write—or even write well—your chances of getting a book published are slim to none. POP! My bliss bubble burst.
And yet, I continue to write with the goal of publication. As you may know, if you’ve followed this blog awhile, it’s not easy for me to maintain a balance between adequately informed and blissfully ignorant. (Witness: Beware the Blue Muse.) In fact, it’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. But what else can I do? My train hasn’t reached its destination. I love books … I can write … I’ve written a book … I’ll get it published. Miracles happen.
If you’re riding this train with me, how’s the view from your seat?
Photo credits: Richard Heeks – Richard Heek’s photo stream at Flickr
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13 thoughts on “A view from the train of eternal optimism …”
“Your chances of getting a book published are slim to none.” Not true! You can do it! It doesn’t take a miracle – just perseverance.
I do, however, agree with the exchange between you & Darksculptures. I think you have to enjoy the journey, or you’ll go crazy. In watching my published friends, publication just opens up a whole other set up pressure & unknowns about STAYING published. So, finding the joy somewhere else in the process makes for a much more peaceful mind.
Well, if I didn’t think it was possible, it would be insane to hold on to the dream of publication, but considering odds, “slim” I think is appropriate. All the agents I follow have said that for the last year they’ve received markedly more queries than they ever have before. So, if so many more people are writing novels, that only decreases my odds. Of course, I know that not everyone who thinks they’ve written a good novel, actually has, and a good percentage of those are probably terrible. Still, in today’s market, if you look at agent statistics for requests for partials and fulls, it’s a little bleak. But I retain my belief that it’s possible to be published. If the planets will just align … 🙂
I know I know…it does seem like an impossible goal right now. I just can’t let myself believe it. After everything I’ve poured into this endeavor, I’ll be soooo bummed if it doesn’t pan out.
Then BELIEVE it to be so. That’s the first step … one I’m still working on. From what I’ve read on your blog, you’re doing everything right, so you have the best of chances.
The view from my seat is pretty much the same as yours. I just wish there were more hours in the day.
Tricia, I’ve been thinking lately that I suddenly seem to have less time than ever, but I don’t know why. Most nights, I look back and can’t figure out what I did all day. I don’t seem to be accomplishing much of anything.
Having just gone through a sort of “writer’s crisis” influenced in large part by knowing the slim-to-none chances of breaking through in the traditional publishing industry, my view has gone from “love writing, will write!” to “wrote! must publish!” to “can’t publish! why bother?” to “love writing, will write!”
Write for the love. Easier said than done once publishing becomes the goal, but it feels a lot better when you circle back around to the pure joy of it.
Welcome, Paper Rats, and thank you for leaving a comment. I agree, the love of writing is the ultimate of desserts … being published is the cherry on top.