Discouragement and Encouragement

Posted by shesanauthor@gmail.com on October 8, 2011 at 1:40 PM

As many writers and even people in general know, on every journey there are highs and lows.  Sometimes the lows can make us want to give up and yet a small part of us knows that giving up isn’t the answer.  Still, sometimes it’s nice to just vent and let our feelings out.  And sometimes, it just makes us feel marginally better to have a small pity party before sucking it up and moving on.  I had one such party on a site called Authonomy.com, a place where writers can be safe to write and know that they will get constructive feedback as they hone their craft.  Below I have copied my original post on the forum and the responses from some very supportive, kind fellow writers.  I hope this will encourage you as well when you feel discouraged. (Note: All comments have been copied without editing.  At times I have put paragraphs together for space, but I have not fixed grammar, spelling or punctuation, to preserve the comment’s authenticity).

So, here I am feeling sorry for myself. It will pass, I know but sometimes I just have to vent, you know? I haven’t found an agent or publisher to even look at my book and have been trying for two years. I know a lot of authors say it took them ten years…but by then I would be over 40! Yikes! I’ve been editing and rewriting to death and my story still doesn’t feel like it’s ready. Frankly, I think I’ve lost a lot of my confidence. There are times I look at the story I so lovingly crafted for a year and have been editing ever since and want to just hit the ‘delete’ button. But then, I know I can’t because I love to write and want to eventually leave my daughter the legacy of my books-published. I have toyed with the idea of self publishing and ebooks but both require capital up front, which is something I don’t have. Part of me also feels that would be a cop out, even if I could afford it. My dream is to get my books published by a reputable house and have them in circulation in actual, honest to goodness trade paperback. I don’t know if I’ll ever reach my dream or if my books will ever actually be worth anything. So yep. Feeling discouraged and tired tonight.Amy McGuire

Saying you might hit the delete button on your story is a little alarming. I hope you only do that when you have multiple backups in different places (your house might burn down) plus a paper copy. Anyone who can complete a whole book is an achiever, whether it ever gets published or not.  And as someone said, doing an ebook is free. A bit of a headache, but it’s a free headache. M. A. McRae

Don’t give up.  If I was you, stop thinking of writing in terms solely of publication – if you’re too goal driven not only will it cloud your mind when you are writing, it will make the whole process less enjoyable. Fact is this. Not having an agent or a publishing deal after two years is not a sign of poor ability – its par for the course. I have neither and I have an extra two years on you.

Panic? Nahh. You just gotta keep rolling the dice – so many times work sent out in the field is glanced at and rejected or just plain rejected. It is by no means a statement as to its quality or indeed its viability.  That’s not to say we are all undiscovered geniuses – that our writing is way up there and just lacks for discovery, rather it is to say that a failure to gain accreditation after two years is not of itself – a mark of poor quality.  I have finally learned that it is all about mass submissions. For me anyway. Back in the day, I used to send a short story off and wait. Enter a competition and wait. Send a chapter or two to an agent and wait. 

Now – I send on mass. Simultaneous submissions to contests, magazines, agents etc. Get yourself a web page as well and plaster it with your work – it is all about exposure and as I said before, rolling the dice.  Since my more forceful policy, I have won three competitions, placed two shorts in small magazines, published stacks of poetry and do you know what – I’ve even had smaller agents with space on their books approach me.  My work is nothing special – except to me of course. Some like it, some don’t. A few love it and a few hate it. That’s usually the way of things. The difference I have found is that by mass approaches you tumble the dice enough times to ensure that someone, somewhere is actually going to read your work.  It won’t guarantee you success – and it takes a lot more leg work to track submissions etc but it ups your chances no end.

Get a copy of the writers and artists year book and send your work off to everyone whose eligibility criteria you meet.  Again and again and again.  Most of all don’t give up – quitting always leaves you with zero chance of success. Chin up and remember – we are all of us in the gutter, it is just that some of us are looking at the stars. Keep looking. Keep trying. Always. Rob1969

nothing worth having is gotten easily. i know the TV and the magazines and the videos will say otherwise but they are liars.

this is a hard job, a hard life and the competition is fairly brutal.

but it’s a worthy life, one worth pursuing and one worth the hard work it takes to be good.

if it was easy everyone would do it.

don’t quit.

you won’t be able to anyway, if this life is for you because it won’t let you quit, no matter how much you try.

and if it’s not for you, you’ll know that soon enough.

but not today.

not tonight.

don’t quit. Geoff Thorne

I was at a book event at my local library last night and something the woman said might help you here. She said that she always knew she was a writer. It was just that the publishers were awfully obtuse and didn’t seem to realise it for a long time.

I think you have to put your book away for a bit. Leave it for a few months before coming back to it with completely fresh eyes. Overwriting and overthinking is a killer. Maybe try something new; something completely different.

And have faith in yourself and your book. If you don’t feel absolutely happy with it, nobody else is going to be either. the slightest worry in your mind will be reflected in the letters you send out to agents. Give yourself a break from it all and try to remember what attracted you to writing in the first place. StaceyM

First rule of writing, never ever ever quit.

What I would do in your position is shelve it for a time, not delete it, just shelve it, take a break, maybe go for a few trips out to places, but do something else to take your mind off of it.

Then when your ready come back to it, with renewed enthusiasm, and a fresh pair of eyes, you’ll be amazed at how much a difference it makes. Ian J. Smethurst

I reached this point with my first book. So I’ve left it to work on something else entirely. Best move I ever made- I’ve learnt a lot more about my writing style and will be able to translate the skill back when I’ve finished the new book.

So if your work is frustrating you and getting you down, write something else. But don’t throw away what you’ve done so far- come back to it once you’ve had some time away. I’m sure it will only be of benefit. Sam241

Gird your loins and KEEP WRITING Put this book aside and start another, and then another – publication is nice, but the writing itself needs to be the reward, otherwise quit now – believe me, publication only kicks that feeling of rejection up 1000 notches – begging for reviews and watching your sales rankings obsessively  Sessha Batto

The main thing is to make sure you get your story out there – there comes a point where you have to accept a mainstream publisher is not going to sweep you off your feet. You might want to try a hybrid partner publisher like Matador.

I think its a shame when people invest years of their life in a book and it never sees the light of day in any final form. mapleyther

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About Author Amy McGuire

Author of The Heart's Discovery, a YA Romance novel set mostly in British Columbia with a brief foray into Quito, Ecuador. Also the mother of a bubbly second grade redhead who adores turquoise, and wife to a very patient man. She lives in Toronto, the inspiration for so many of her place names and characters.
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