Friday, January 18, 2008

Harvey the Wonder Hamster

I don’t know if it’s my pesky cold, the dreary weather, or just life in general, but I’m feeling pretty bleh about things lately. About my writing in particular. This is usually the time of year I get a rejection letter, so I have a reason to feel this way. So far, I've heard nothing from the agent I queried, but I still feel bleh.

I’m just tired. Like a hamster on a wheel, running, but never seeming to get anywhere. I'm tired of forcing a story that won’t flow. I'm tired of feeling guilty for not wanting to write. I'm tired of revising books that no one is asking for. I'm tired of rewriting lines with passive voice because I can't seem to get it into my head not to write that way. I'm tired of worrying about my character arcs or lack there of. I'm tired of query letters and synopses. I'm tired of entering and agonizing over contests that mean nothing in the long run. I'm tired of judging contests. I'm tired of submissions and self addressed stamped envelopes. I'm tired of waiting to hear back from someone who is so unethusiastic about my work they haven't bothered to write and tell me so. I'm tired of rejections, even the good ones. It never ends.

Like that hamster, it’s always on to the next book, next submission, next idea...running, running, running, yet still just spinning on some little plastic wheel. Being published is not a magical cure either. I know if I sold a book, it wouldn’t be any better. Yeah, I’d get paid, but I’d also have the pressure to deliver, even if I was tired. But maybe, just maybe, I’d feel like I had leapt off my little wheel and actually had something to show for all the spinning. I feel like I’ve accomplished a big nothing. I haven't even earned activity points for all the aggravation.

I’ve been writing, seriously, since 2003. That’s five years and 4 completed manuscripts. Five years of plotting and writing and submitting and failing and writing some more. And I've been halfheartedly working longer than that. I started piddling around with my first book in 1997, finishing sometime in 2000, then started fudging around with the sequel for a while until I got serious. If you count that, you've got 11 years at writing. And what to show for it? A flash drive full of rejected manuscripts and a couple lovely conference tote bags. At least it feels that way.

And yes, before you say it, I do stop to fill the well. I have plenty of fun, watch plenty of movies and read books and whatnot. I go on vacations and have other hobbies outside of writing. I know I've made strides in the industry, meeting people, making a name for myself. I know I'm making progress, even if I feel like I haven't. If I got my butt in gear, I could very well be on the verge, or I'd like to think I could be. I'm just tired. I feel as though I'm a marathon runner on mile 23 of 26. I'm vomiting on the roadside, every muscle screaming in me to stop. I'm close and yet, today at least, those last three miles might as well be thirty. I mean, given that agent turns me down today and I query a new one tomorrow, say, it takes them three months to request a partial. Then another three months to read that and request a full. Then six months with that before they ask to represent me. Then a year of shopping the book around until they find a house that wants it. Then a year of revisions, etc. Then a year before the book actually hits the shelves. Best case scenario, that makes me a published author in oh...2012 or so. And that's if I work quickly.

I’m not giving up, so don’t jump on me. I’m just feeling wore down. Mentally fatigued, I guess. Anyone else feel this way or are you all hyped up on that New Year's Rush of enthusiasm? Maybe I'm just one of those winter depression people. Pity I can't get in a tanning booth for some 'sun therapy.'



Rhonda Nelson said...

Oh, SP, I'm so sorry. I do so hope that you'll stay on the wheel because it would be such a waste of talent if you didn't. Hugs, sweetie.

Problem Child said...

I call these Slug Days. I get them a lot too...

(But I love your marathon runner analogy. I often feel like I'm vomiting and really wanting to quit.)

Maven Linda said...

I wrote for twenty years before I sold. I wrote for the joy of it -- but the writing, not the selling, was always my ultimate goal.

At the same time, when I decided to see if I was good enough to be published, I wanted that with a desperation that I can't describe. The process was more pure, simplified, back then; there weren't all these contests that, in my opinion, are almost completely useless. I say "almost" because occasionally an editor will see something she likes, pursue it, and eventually that writer makes a sale.

At this stage, go for the joy of writing above all else. Forget about contests; take that pressure off yourself. And -- buy some full-spectrum light bulbs. They do make a difference.


Jen said...

Hugs, SP. You will finish the marathon and you'll keep running. Fatigue goes with the territory.

Maven LJ said...

Hugs, SP. Feel better! This is not an easy business, not before publication or after. It's joyous, maddening, frustrating, fun -- I could go all day. You're at a frustrating phase, and I understand that. I've been there. Just hang in there and find the joy and fun again. It's there! Just maybe not today. :-/ More hugs.


Angel said...

Have you been using your salt lamp? It does help treat Seasonal Depression Disorder, you know. :)

I know how you feel. Sometimes you want to take a break, but then you think about how much longer it will be before you sell if you stop. I think we need to come up with "PLANS"! Oh dear, I'm getting out my lists....


Lynn Raye Harris said...

Hugs, SP. Of course you aren't going to give up (I think I know a few people who would do one of those football tackle-everybody-pile-on things if you did), but I think it's okay to take a break when you're feeling this way. I don't think it's not because you aren't refilling the well, but because you have this little demon putting the pressure on somewhere in your head. He's telling you it's taking too long, and it's going to take this much longer even if you found an agent today, and blah blah blah. Bad demon.

When you realize how long you've been writing, especially as time goes by, you can sometimes feel like a failure because you thought it should happen faster. BTW, 5 yrs and 4 completes is pretty darn good. :)

If you are tired, stop the wheel and get off for a little while. Just a little while, though. :) Because you're going to get that tackle thing if you take too long. :)

Hugs, SP.

Playground Monitor said...

I think we need a Playfriends fun trip that has nothing to do with writing. A trip where all mention of writing is forbidden.

I get like this too -- more often that I'll admit.

Try those full spectrum bulbs that Maven Linda suggested. I know you work in a cave every day so the bulbs would help.

Hugs from your co-sufferer.


Instigator said...

SP, you've been sick this week. Cut yourself some slack!! Your body and mind are busy trying to get well. It's natural to feel drained and exhausted in that situation.


Kathy said...

SP, you've been sick? Hugs! But it's at times like these that we suffer the doldrums. You'll get over it. Some spark, some idea, will pop in your head and off you will go. (Hint. We won't let you give up! I'm with Lynn and ready to pounce.)

5/4 ratio is quite an accomplishment!! You should be very proud of yourself. Forget the outside forces you cannot change. Do what you can by controlling how you react. Enlist the aid of the force. Be the paper. Be the book. Be the characters. Hand to paper. Fingers to keys. Wonders will unfold in the world of your choosing.

Hang in there!

Barbara Vey said...

It does sound like the winter blahs to me. When I'm down on myself, I try to think of what I'd say to someone if they told me they felt down. I'm great for giving advice, but not taking my own.

So maybe, think of what you would say to one of your playground friends if they were feeling down. And then take that advice for yourself.

I'm happy you all have each other for these types of days.

Problem Child said...

Plans? Lists? We're making lists? Yay! Is there a theme? How about a color scheme?

Oh how I love a list!

Instigator said...

As long as it isn't on pink unicorn paper I'm okay. Oh, and as long as y'all don't expect me to actually follow it :-)


Instigator said...

You're right Barbara (somehow I missed you post a minute ago). We are lucky to have each other. I don't know what I'd do without the playfriends!

MaryF said...

I have been where you are - MANY times. 20 manuscripts, 12 years, and in the end my first sale was to a micropress. Don't compare yourself to others, is the lesson I forced myself to learn. Everyone has their own path. Decide what you want and continue.

Cindi Myers once said time passes whether you're writing or not, so you may as well be doing something you love.