Yesterday, I sat down with half a tub of left-over chocolate icing and a spoon, and had a good talk with myself. (Yes, I talk to myself. I also answer myself. Sometimes I even do what I tell myself to do. And if you must know, I also talk to the cats. The only thing proving my sanity is that I know they don’t talk back.) The thing is, I couldn’t bring myself to work on my own manuscript, the one that’s a finalist in the Genesis Contest. I had two other options: I could read the book I bought to learn more about my genre or work on the manuscript I’m considering for Port Yonder Press.
Instead of doing any of the three jobs facing me, I sucked chocolate off the spoon and wondered why I wasn’t more enthusiastic about working on my own manuscript. I got honest with myself then and realized: I’m discouraged.
Let me start with this: I’m discovering that the books I write don’t fall into the formula of “Romance” that Love Inspired wants. I’m learning that through reading Gail Gaymer Martin’s Groom in Training, published by Love Inspired, and through one of the contest judges who flat-out told me my book wasn’t a romance and was entered in the wrong genre (she deducted points accordingly, then proceded to whack my score down almost thirty points lower than the other judges). Ride got the same verdict from White Rose Press, among others.
In a way, it’s true. Although my characters develop an attraction and fall in love, my novels don’t concentrate on the mushy stuff. Nothing freezes my fingers faster than having to write a romantic scene or flirty dialogue. Maybe I’m old. Maybe I’ve been married too long and I’ve forgotten what it’s like. These days, true love means changing the oil in my car. Stopping by to pick up the dry cleaning. Buying me cranberry juice upon the discovery that Crohn’s patients are susceptible to kidney stones, and my favorite brand of yogurt because it’s supposed to help the digestion. I doubt that anyone under forty would recognize these acts as signs of romance.
But let’s say miracles happen and Love Inspired publishes Ride. I have to help promote the book. I have to get my name “out there” so people will buy it. They call it “building a platform.” In the world of writing and publishing, a “platform” is the group of folks you have access to who would be likely to buy your material. If I were a popular actress, I’d have a nationwide platform. If I were a reporter with KBTX, I’d have a local platform.
I’m an unknown housewife in a mid-sized Texas town with only a smattering of family and friends as a platform. And I stink at networking and getting myself “out there.”
These are the two top reasons I’m discouraged. There are many others, but these are enough.
A friend of mine has asked several times whether I would write “anyway”–even if I never get published, even if no one sees my work, I’d write “anyway,” right?
I always say yes, but in all honesty, the truth is no. I wouldn’t. I don’t write for the love of writing. Even though I study writing and write about writing and seem obsessed with writing, the craft itself doesn’t motivate me.
Last July, in my post, “Why Do I Write,” I said:
Words woven into a colorful tapestry can elicit raw emotions, and that is what I love. Whether laughter, tears, or deep reflection, the response is what keeps me weaving words together. Those words land on paper now instead of flying through a microphone, and the response isn’t as immediate, but telling the story is still my passion.
Although I dedicate my work to the Lord and pray that what I write glorifies Him, I don’t believe He called me to write. Or maybe I should put it this way: I’m not at all sure I’ve been called. I write for an audience. If no one read my words, I’d see no point in putting them on paper or on the screen. I love to tell the story and elicit the response–the “laughter, tears, or deep reflection.” Whether that means I write for self-glorification or self-confirmation or any other selfish reason, I don’t know, but I don’t think so. Even though I don’t feel called to write, the bulk of everything I’ve written since I learned to form letters has been God-centered.
Maybe this is just a mood. I’ve never tried to quit writing, so I don’t know whether I could if I wanted to. Maybe my problem is impatience. As I’ve said before, the wheels of publishing turn slow. And really, being a two-time finalist in a nationwide contest is plenty of affirmation that I’m a good writer–but the dwindling readership of this blog is evidence enough that I’m lousy at building up my platform. An author should post about writing, I know. But writer’s blogs are a dime a dozen and most of them are far better than anything I could come up with.
Ah. Like I said. This is probably a mood.
Pass the chocolate.