Monday, November 17, 2008

Warning: Don't read if you're feeling lofty. Why do I...

...write? I used to tell myself it was because I'm a tortured soul and that's what all tortured souls do - (other than abuse alcohol/drugs - a writer's right). It's our excuse for cutting open a vein and bleeding all over the pages, right?

Maybe not. I'm just guessing, but I feel that anyone who set into motion the first paragraph of whatever story, did so with dreams of creating the next great American novel. And you can't have a "Great American Novel" without it seeing light of publication. Otherwise, it'll sit cold and lonely on the hard drive. So, naturally, every writer has dreams of, and actually seeks, publication at some point.

And then at some point, the road gets a little weary, at least it has for me. Hearing about changes in the publishing industry, the fact that many talented authors' contracts are getting eighty-sixed because their work isn't "this, that, or the other thing," sort of makes me go, "HUH?"

And so I have to ask myself: "Self, why are you bothering?" After all, if publishers are dumping their talent, why would they look at someone new to the market? Those unfortunate ones who lost contracts were fabulous writers. How can I top their brilliance?

It gets worse, all those things that got me to thinking about this entire writing gig. I hear tales, via industry blogs, of writers constant query letters receiving rejections without comments, or never hearing back one way or the other, that some agents are just "too busy" negotiating deals for the authors they represent to even bother sending a rejection letter. Maybe I shouldn't pay attention to all that shazit, but still...

It goddamn sucks! I'm not implying that I have the next great American novel on my hard-drive, I'm just saying that with all the dark information looming about the publishing world, what's the point in my bleeding all over the pages, other than for the therapeutic aspect of it all?

Is it crazy to hold onto hope that maybe things will change? One day will all the madness die - the pendulum swing back in my direction (if I had one)? If I had a dime for every time I thought to give up on the writing I'd be Bill Gates. But each time I consider tossing in the towel, another story idea slams a fly into the ointment.

When does one determine it's time to throw in the towel for good? How does one keep hanging on to hope after seeing so many really good writers dumped? I think about those authors who got axed and wonder why their editors/agents, whomever, didn't give them some direction, such as giving a clue as to what they're looking for. After all, these are seasoned writers with several thousands of words and pages published - surely they can create something that will sell, right? They're writers! It's what they do for a living (at least most of them).

It's like working for a company that's cutting jobs due to financial straits. Management says you can keep your job, but only if you move to India, or take a cut in pay, etc. Options are offered. Why do editors/agents dump a client without giving them a shot at something else that'll keep them afloat? It just seems like the right thing to do, offering a choice, an option.

Maybe there was choice offered. This I don't know for sure. The one author whom I know well and was recently dropped had thought her next release was a go. I said to her, "You got that next book ready to go?" and she replied, "Been ready, but my publisher dropped me..." I'm paraphrasing. It was one of those moments that I found so incredible that my memory banks misfired.

My point? Basically, why bother writing toward the publishing goal if many of the really awesome writers have been kicked to the curb? I'd like some answers. I already know that the publishing business can be brutal, and that said, why jump in without that life-line called hope? Is hope lost on the publishing dream?


Amy Nathan said...

Shit happens. I can't be more eloquent than that. Life sucks. Ok, maybe that tops it. Life isn't fair. Is anything more true?

We can't give up on our dreams, whatever they may be, just like we can't give up on people we know who stumble or on ourselves when we go astray.

Hope is not something you are given by someone or an industry, it's something that breeds deep within you, and you have to keep it there, embrace it and let it help you along.

Don't give up!

Kath Calarco said...

Amy, thanks for the eloquent slap up the side of my head. Your words are exactly what I needed to read, especially "Hope is not something given by someone or an industry...keep it there, embrace it and let it help..." Such heartfelt words and so very true!

Thank you, thank you, thank you! If nothing else ever comes of my writing, it has brought many wonderful people into my life (like you). :)

Edie said...

I love Amy's answer! I think you're either the type of person to give up or you're stubborn. Like me. LOL And I believe in myself and my writing. Publication has been missing me, but I know I'm so close it can feel the warm of my breath. And I know if I keep on, it will come.

Jayne Ann Krentz had to reinvent herself twice when her numbers were low! And look at her now. It happened to her because she didn't give up.

Edie said...

And thanks for putting up my pictue on your sidebar and the voting information! That's awesome!

Kath Calarco said...

Edie, now I have to Google Jayne Ann Krentz, which will lead to adding her to books I need to check out (hope they come in LARGE print, lol).

You know, I need to do two things: 1.) Stop reading blogs of confused authors; 2.) Start looking for more positive vibes!

P.S. I'm also putting up the American Title V email link at my Facebook, as soon as I figure out how to do that. lol.

P.S. II - THANKS for the kick!

robin said...

When I started writing I did so because I LOVED writing. Every day that I got to spend with my characters was a wonderful day. I didn't want to meet a friend for lunch. I didn't want to go to the mall. I wanted to sit down and tell the story burning up inside of me. And I told myself, even if I never get published, how lucky am I that I get to do something I love to do everyday?

I do, like Amy so eloquently put, have hope. And dreams. And I believe if you believe in yourself long enough, good things will happen. It's not in my nature to give up. And I don't think it's in yours, Kath.

Keep writing! Take good care!

Kath Calarco said...

Robin, I could hug you! Once again you've proven that we were separated at birth. :) When I began my first novel (the 9000 page one) I was obsessed with writing. No watching t.v., housework put on hold, etc. I couldn't stop barfing out the story.

And I believed that I'd be on Oprah - pictured it all the time. Friends started picking out what they'd wear to the show. That was over five years ago. Lots has changed since then. Now I try to "get back the feeling" (damn, now I'm gonna hear that song the rest of the day), and I hope that hope springs eternal.

No fat lady signing here yet... (but I'm sure gonna play something to erase the song now humming in my head).

marciacolette said...

Hmmmm. I debated on whether to comment or not, simply because my answer will might be a little...harsh. Nevertheless, here it goes.

You're entitled to give up on your dream. Period. There isn't any law that says you have to stick to the program. I can toss my stories and pick up my violin any time, with the hopes that I someday I'll be good enough to play in front of people. We give up on dream every day, so once more won't make a difference.

But will you be happy?

I can honestly say, I don't know. I think I'll get very bored very fast. Writing gives me the freedom that the violin can't.

As for the doom and gloom on blogs and news articles regarding the publishing industry? IMHO, everyone really needs to shut the f*** up and get over it already. Everybody is hurting right now. What makes the publishing industry so special that they should have been exempt? I don't care what industry we're talking about, money ain't where/what it used to be. And until ALL publishers are closing their doors, I'm going to keep forging ahead toward the ones that are still open.

Don't dwell on authors being dropped either. Who's to say the economy had anything to do with it? They could've been pains in the ass or there could be less demand for their books because tastes change. It could be editors don't want to deal with their dick-wad agent anymore. Now would certainly be a good time to get rid of them and blame it on the economy. Then again, I could be completely wrong and it could be the economy that's hurting publishers. :-) Bottom line: we don't know, so we shouldn't base our own situations on what's happening to those around us. There are simply too many factors to consider, especially when not all writers are published equal.

Keep hope alive, girlfriend. Obama did and look where it got him? ;-)

marciacolette said...

Man. That was longer than I thought it was. Oops. :-)

Kath Calarco said...

LOL Marcia! I'm picturing you with a violin under your chin.

Thanks for you insight. I'm hoping I don't end up with the dick-wad agent that the editor is sick of (just my luck). Today I'm feeling un-blue.

And maybe I read into blogs too much, rather than take them for face value. I have to remember that the bottom of the sea returns after a storm, so I'm hanging onto hope that all the naysayers find peace, and move over for the new kids on the block.

I'm not giving up until some fat lady plays a violin... :)

marciacolette said...

LOL! The fat lady probably sold her violin to pay her credit cards.

Don't feel bad, Kath, about reading the blogs. *raising hand* I did it, too. I've been reading a lot into these "industry expert" blogs about publishing biz. Even worse, the news trickles into my online loops and launches the group into panic. Doom and gloom and why bother have gone through my head, too, so I'm right there with ya.

But then, I decided to change the way I thought about this situation after listening to a broadcast about psychics seeing a boom in business. People are worried about their way of life, regardless of what they do, including writers. It shocked me that people would be this desperate for answers. Go figure. *shrug* I refuse to get to that point, doggone it! Just call me Ms. Pigheaded. ;-)

Kath Calarco said...

Hey, Marcia, good thing I let my RWA membership lapse, which dropped me out of the chapter loops. As helpful as those loops were, at times they made me want to slit my wrists (figuratively speaking).

Robin said...

I like what Marcia said! And Kath, I hope you get back to that barfing stage! Just forget about everything else and I bet magic will happen!