Author C. Hope Clark wrote a tough-love piece for writers who are afraid of taking the step to becoming published authors. In her blog post, “On Being Tentative,” Hope writes:
This is all on you. We all like the pat on the back and the positive reinforcement. That’s human nature. But if you need someone petting you on the head every day to keep going, maybe this isn’t the job for you. There are too many others out there who show up everyday to make their dream happen. And they left their mommas in the other room.
Hope’s piece is the kick-in-the-butt kind of a pep talk that falls in line with the “pee or get off of the pot” mentality. Toughen up! Dig deep!
I don’t know too many authors who think this job is a cake walk. It’s hard. It fosters fear and insecurity. For many–if not most of us–it keeps us humble.
Those of us who make it a point to sit down to the keyboard every day are putting into words things we think are funny, sad, scary, exciting, touching, inspirational–then we put them out there with our fingers crossed and our eyes screwed tight in prayer that someone else will find them funny, sad, scary . . .
But that’s not all of it. Many writers have to overcome the idea that they have no family support. None. But they squeeze out time to write anyway and get their few words down one day, only to rip them up in disgust the next.
Then, finally, one day a miracle happens, and they have a completed manuscript. They manage somehow to go to a writers conference, they sit in on agent/editor panels and listen to what’s expected of them–and true terror sets in, because here is where they learn that it doesn’t matter whether you have a great story. You have to have a great story that will compete with hundreds of thousands of other great stories. And you have to have a platform of people who are willing to buy your great story. In fact, if you have a fabulous platform, you don’t necessarily need a great story.
Everything falls on the shoulders of the author these days. Networking and marketing are as much the author’s responsibility as writing, editing, meeting deadlines. So when–miracle of miracles–our manuscript is accepted, we have to step out of our little shells and toot our own horns. This is when we discover that we’re playing a kazoo at a high amp heavy metal concert.
But–yet another miracle–people start buying our books and the reviews start pouring in. Many of them are good, but there are always those who simply didn’t like it, and low ratings appear and raggedly rip at our hearts with a dull blade. Meantime, we watch someone else skyrocket to the top, someone who found the key to the spaceship, while we’re still searching for the launch pad.
For many, if not all, writers, this is it. This is a way of life, our chosen career. We swallow the fears, the insecurities, the anger at injustices, the lack of family understanding and support. And, masochists that we are, we sit down to do it all over again.