Friday, June 18, 2010

Pre-published

by Michael

When I was at an SCBWI conference recently, I said something that the entire audience (only about 800 people) thought was hilarious. I first asked how many of the people in attendance were unpublished. A vast majority raised their hands. I looked at them very seriously and said, “Enjoy it. This is a very special time in your career.” That’s when they laughed.

But I meant it, and I mean it. The time before you’re published is the most important part of an author’s career. My thinking about this started in a conversation with an author of mine. (I won’t reveal her name, but she can out herself in the comments if she likes.) When I asked her if she had any advice for the conference goers, she said it was to enjoy the years spent before publication. In the ten years it took her to get her first book published, she said said she never realized how free she was. She meant creatively free. Before publication, when she sat down to write, she could do whatever she wanted. There were no expectations about what she’d write, no deadlines to write to, and no promotional commitments to take her away from her creative time. So she wrote, and revised, and developed her craft on her own, at conferences and with other writers. She’s done very well for herself in her career, and she wouldn’t give any of it up, but she felt that she lost a little something when she became a published writer, and she wished that other authors would stop and enjoy the process.

It’s not easy advice to follow, I know. For anyone with the goal of being published, it’s hard to imagine that life before publication holds anything special. There’s all the butt-in-chair hours spent writing and revising, the query letters to agents, the conferences, the workshops, the critique groups, the rejections, the hopes and hopes dashed. Writing isn’t for the faint of heart. But getting published isn’t the end of much of that, and there are added pressures once you’ve achieved your first goal. Once you’ve successfully sold and published your first book, the question of your second book is right around the corner. The process of selling that book is different, but may be just as agonizing. Often, you’ll be expected to write an outline and sample pages, instead of a whole book. Great, right? You don’t have to write the whole thing! Not so fast — is that how you started your first novel? Many authors don’t approach writing their first book in that way, and they enjoy the time they spent figuring things out on the page; the characters that they didn’t know existed until they started writing, the plot twist they couldn’t have imagined when they began. I had a very successful author ask me yesterday if she could just write the whole book again — she missed the freedom she experience she had writing her first book, which just flowed out of her and took shape as she wrote it. While it sounds fantastic creatively, it doesn’t make as much sense practically. We’d like to have a good idea from her publisher if they’re interested in the book before she goes through all of that work!

Then there’s the pressure to promote and sell your book. The hours spent online social networking, the time spent at conferences and workshops presenting, and if you’re lucky enough to be very successful, the tours, appearances, video chats, book club appearances, media, stock signings (I have an author flying several hours, for only a day, to sign 5,000 books), and whatever else the publisher throws at you. As the author above said to me, when you’re an author, sometimes it’s hard to find time to be a writer.

I know, I know. At this point you’re thinking, “Can these published writers just stop whining? They have the life they always wanted!” It’s true that in many ways they’ve achieved their goals, and I can assure you that none of the authors I’m referencing here are whiners in the least. In fact, they’re unbelievably hard workers who take their jobs quite seriously. But they were all pre-published (as SCBWI is fond of saying) at some point, and I know that they all wish they’d enjoyed that time period more. They wish they’d relished the time when being an author meant only writing. So for those of you who aren’t published yet, remember to enjoy this part of the journey, too.

60 comments:

  1. Time = Money.
    And that's really what it boils down to.

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  2. Wow. A great perspective, especially for those of us glued to our inboxes or phone, waiting for "the call."

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  3. This is great advice for LIFE. Most people live their lives thinking, "If I get xxx, I'll be happy" or "If only I can finally make it to yyy, my life will be complete" and then they find that once they get there, the euphoria is temporary. Note to self: Grass is not necessarily greener for the published.

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  4. Wow, what an intersting thought. I've never really looked at it that way. Makes not being published (yet...) not so painful!

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  6. Don't those authors feel the additional time they have from being able to quit (or reduce their hours at) their day job offsets the imposition of publisher's deadlines, marketing tasks, and other demands?

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  7. anon 2.04, i think its a very rare writer who gets to quit their job after one book!

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  8. Great post! It's nice to be reminded that sometimes the journey is as enjoyable as the destination.

    Thanks!

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  9. I hear ya. Logically, I understand the words you say, and I believe you.

    But here's the kicker: It's the fear that we'll never be published that causes us to feel so anxious because if we could find out somehow that we just don't have what it takes to produce a publishable story, it would be great to know this sooner, rather than later.

    With that in mind, if God came down and said, "Girl, publishing is not for you." I'd still write...'cause it's fun, but I wouldn't bother with the agonizing pain of multiple revisions if I knew the time spent was futile.

    The end product of producing a book isn't what's fun for me, it's the experience of escapism.

    We've all heard the great stories of writers who were rejected over and over and then they finally get published. The sad things is, there are a lot of writers who will never get published no matter how passionate they are about creating their stories.

    Okay, now I feel like a great big bugerhead. Let me be sure to connect to my profile and blog so everyone can see for themselves what a buger I am. What would make this worst is if I mispelled buger--then I'd be a great big stupid bugerhead.

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  10. @ Anon: I think most writers have to keep their day jobs. I remember hearing that Mercedes Lackey would come home from her day job and go into her study to write until she completed her quota of words. I kept thinking, "But why does she have a day job! I have 5 of her books on my shelf!"

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  11. Some moments of this journey are harder to enjoy than others, lol. But yes, I totally agree it's so important not to miss out on the joys of "now" by focusing too much on our vision of "later".

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  12. I've always said that selling is not the be-all/end-all. Seeing your book on a shelf, winning awards, receiving critical acclaim doesn't magically make everything shiny and bright and perfect. And I can say that, because I've done all of the above. Each step on the publishing road brings with it new challenges and issues and it's so hard to stop long enough to enjoy each small accomplishment. And yeah, even those moments prior to publication-- I understand exactly what your client is saying, Michael, because I've been feeling it myself, working on my latest MS.

    Really thought-provoking post-- thanks.

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  13. Great perspective on being publishing-challenged! I love the reminder to savor the discoveries and open horizons.

    Thanks very much.

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  14. Even though I am on the yet-unpublished side, I can see the wisdom in this advice. Not always easy to accept, but as some others have mentioned, being published cannot be expected to fulfill all our hopes for happiness.

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  15. Thank you for this wonderful reminder, as I am currently awaiting a nod from an agent on two manuscripts. I've made a concerted effort to work my passion, so when I'm not writing, I'm teaching writing.
    A teacher, well, a good one anyway, can't afford to squander the present. My students see my passion for writing everyday, and they get caught up in it. That allows them to learn the skills and become stronger writers. In the end, they are more successful students.
    I am living and loving every minute of this journey, savoring the complex flavors of becoming a published author.

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  16. I was in that audience, and one of the people who laughed. It kind of sounded like you were joking, but reading this post I see now what you meant. As others have said, it's good advice for all of life. Enjoy the journey, because that's all there really ever is in life.

    I have a note on my desk that says, "The goal is to be in the process of writing a novel, not to have written one. Once it's written, it's dead to me." A bit melodramatic, yes, but it makes the same point to appreciate each step as it happens.

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  17. I was thinking about this the other day as several shiny new ideas bounced into my head and I thought "which one should I pick?" It hit me that once I have an agent and get published (I'm an optimist by nature), I won't have all the freedom I do now to write what and when I want. However, it's a price I'm more than willing to pay. :)

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  18. I've been realizing this a lot lately. As much as I would like to be published someday, I should really enjoy the time I have now. I can still write what I want when I want, without the imposition of deadlines or needing an editor's approval. Right now, I am creatively free and unattached, and anyway, I should enjoy the journey instead of thinking things will magically be better when I get published. (I agree with Barbara above as well: being published isn't the end-all-be-all. Aren't we writing because we love to write? Should we love that any less because we're pre-published, and many of us might never get there?)

    Appreciate the journey and the freedom you have now.



    Also seconding the responses to Anonymous above. Most writers don't make quite enough to quit their day jobs.

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  19. This post is so timely. I've been thinking about just this thing. I was at the Backspace writers conference last month and received very positive feedback. A couple of agents have expressed interest in seeing more of my work and while I'm very happy about that, I also feel kind of nervous. As I work to revise and edit my manuscript, I'm almost afraid of succeeding.

    I don't use an outline and write organically as it comes to me on the page. I know publishers want outlines, etc and I'm a bit concerned about the pressure to perform with tight parameters.

    You've confirmed what I suspected and that is to enjoy the process and not worry about the end result. Indulge in the freedom you have as an unpublished writer. You'll probably miss it one day...thanks Michael. I'm going to bookmark this post.

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  20. I feel very much likewise. I've got a book deal and will be debuting next spring. I want to go to conferences NOW before the book comes out yet, so that I can hide in the background and just learn from it all...

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  21. My teacher at the WIFYR conference this week really helped me see this. There's such freedom in taking the publishing pressure off myself. At least for a while.

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  22. Michael, what a beautiful post. And so important to hear, too. I'm nowhere near where the authors you mentioned are, but I completely agree with what they said.

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  23. Elizabeth Gilbert talked about how to nurture creativity at Ted. It's a great watch in response to this post.

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  24. An interesting perspective. Thanks for sharing this.

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  25. I think this is an amazing post. Do you mind if I link you tomorrow in my post?

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  26. I don't want to rain on anyone's parade, and if you're happy, you're happy, and it's good to be happy.

    However: one of the great enemies of the would-be writer is the belief that it counts if you want to. I've met so many people who think of themselves as writers who base the claim by counting their blogs or notes they've never shown anyone else, or even the desire to start a novel at some point.

    There's that anecdote about a bestselling author meeting a woman at a signing who said she was 'also a writer' and he asked what she wrote and she said 'her journal'. The thing that astonished him the most is that she seemed utterly sincere in the belief it was The Same Thing.

    There may be people reading this who agree with her. There's a word for that opinion and it's 'wrong'.

    In the end, if you want to be a writer, no one cares if you're happy, they care that you've written something and it's good. And the only 'they' who count at this stage are the agents and editors who can get what you've written in front of readers.

    Instead of a complacent "one day I'll get there", a would-be published writer is better served by researching the market, honing their work.

    If, once you've been published, you decide you don't like it and you preferred it back in the halcyon days before you got paid and people read your work, then stop writing. The world will carry on turning, it'll just have a few more trees in it. Chances are the trees are better than your book would have been, anyway. All trees are great, most books aren't. Be happy.

    Or just pretend you're a writer. Say you write mysteries under a pseudonym. It's easy to bluff if you're in a bar hitting on someone - just moan about how people don't read any more; no, none of your many, many books have been adapted for TV; critics hate genre fiction; and how you'd be surprised how little writers get paid. You'd pretty much get all the benefits of being a real writer.

    Come to think about it, if it works and you get laid, you're probably getting more benefit. I pretended I was Douglas Adams once, despite being (1) Not English and (2) alive, and ... well, it was quite an evening.

    It's great if you can make your hobby your job. By definition, that's a conscious decision and an active process.

    Sorry if it sounds harsh, but if you bathe in getting a warm glow from the touchy-feely idea that pre-publication is a wonderful state of blissful prelapsarian innocence, then you need a dash of cold water. If you're serious about being a writer, you should hate not being published, you need to reach the point where you understand that it's entirely your fault you're not published, you should do everything you can to fix the problem.

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  27. Anon 9:13, your post doesn't sound harsh. It sounds bent. If you were sober when you wote this, consider counseling. The ghost people you are railing against will go away.

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  28. Muttering, I think my namesake Anonymous makes a good point. There are "aspiring" writers out there who romanticize the process but don't, y'know, write all that much. If you don't think that's true, just surf around for a bit.

    I used to go to creative writing classes. There are two types. One gives practical advice on the technical aspects of writing and publication; the other is life-affirming and provides a support structure for like-minded people. One of them works, the other makes you feel good.

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  29. That was an excellent post, Michael.



    as usual.

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  30. This is a wonderful post! Thanks for the reminder to be fully in the present moment and enjoy where I am now. I really like the word "pre-published." It has a positive and encouraging connotation! :)

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  31. This is sound advice, both for writing and for life itself. We make elaborate plans for the future, then spend so much time fretting about reaching our goal that we don't enjoy the journey. That said, I look forward to recalling my pre-published period with nostalgia.

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  32. Great post!

    The thing about being published is that there are just different pressures and stresses that come with the job. One of the things I've learned for me is that I can only go so long and then I have to take a break. Sometimes I get so tied up in writing "work" that I forget to smell the roses in life. :-) And when I forget to do that, my writing suffers too.

    While I agree pre-pubbeds should always be looking for ways to improve, studying the market, etc., I think they have to really LOVE what they're writing. That love is what's going to carry you through rejection after rejection and it's what's going to carry you on through your career too, when things get tough. It *is* a tough business.

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  33. Anon 9.13 back again, still sober.

    I think Mary hits the nail on the head - *after* you're published, look back nostalgically; *until* you're there, you shouldn't be feeling happy, not at all.

    Donna ... I don't think it's either you study the market *or* you love your writing. It's much better - as with any job - if you love it. You *need* to learn about the industry.

    I also think that people need to be brutally honest with themselves. Agents and publishers don't make money from rejected books. If they rejected your book, it was for a reason. You have to understand that the reason was that it just wasn't good enough. That *you* weren't good enough. You need to be special to stand out.

    The clue's in the word 'professional'. It's a job. A job with a very poor hourly rate, some social status, but most of all it's a form of self-employment that's particularly focused on you as an individual (no slacking off or workmates to cover for you), where the quality of the end product is extremely subjective.

    I think this idea of 'prepubbed' is corrosive. I can see it catching on, with people who've written two chapters of their book about a high school girl who falls for an elf and learns she's half-faerie, and never shown it to anyone, happily blithering on about how they're 'prepubbed'. Then four years later 'still happily prepubbed', like it counts for something. You know the type.

    I have an alternative: think of yourself as a 'noveleer', like a 'mountaineer'. Getting published is like climbing a mountain. You don't climb a mountain by glorying in the state of being a mountaineer, you do it by climbing with a clear set of goals, an acute sense of your abilities and limits, always focused on the next part of the process.

    So, noveleers - how much closer to the summit did you get today?

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  34. Hey, Anonymous and Anonymous. I do think you're right about the false warm glow and the faux status fest among those who encourage pre-published writers to feel as professionally successful as bestselling multi-book authors... and, usually, for their own agrandizement or profit. Yes, a lot of how-to lectures and books are little more than pep talks.

    I just thougt the original post was about something else. There is an albatross that lands on your chest after your first book, especially if it is a novel, is accepted for publication. The pressure is real, it is active, and it isn't a lot of fun. Marketing, promotion, name recognition for starters.

    Secondly, this is an age of very pro-active editing. The first editorial letter from someone who LOVED you book throws a lot of new writers into a near suicidal funk. Oh, then there's the second one. Add on the fact, your publisher hates your title and won't accept any adjustment to your cover design (if they let you see it).

    Pay a for-hire marketer/publicist to promote your first book (because you heard if your first book flops that you're career is over) and the pub moves the publishing date another six months or a year into the distant future, decides not to print ARCs, and you have paid a couple grand to attend (not be on a panel, mind you, just attend) a writer's conference, while you have to dump your business cards, bookmarks, etc. that have your original pub date on them.

    Oh and have your publisher sell a few foreign rights to your book and find out you don't get paid any of the advance for foreign rights until after your book is pub'd. And then have a few people email you and tell you your blog is way off base, they don't care what you have to say about anything, and that nobody reads blogs anymore.

    Well, Book II gets turned down on proposal. Etc.

    It does make you FONDLY recall how great it was to just be writing a book with a twinkle in your eye. And, you know, MOST of us didn't go around talking like we were published authors when we weren't.

    Meanwhile, you divide your royalty earned per copy into the amount of your advance and realize you don't have much of a shot of earning back in the first year or two of publication, if at all.
    It's daunting.

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  35. P.S. Noveleer! LOL. And, baby oh baby, I want to see the T-shirts!!

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  36. "I do think you're right about the false warm glow and the faux status fest ... are little more than pep talks."

    Exactly.

    In the end, if people want to go around calling themselves 'prepubbed', there's no harm in it. If it makes them happy, then it's perhaps, psychologically at least, even a good thing. However, if any of those people want to *be* published, I think it'll just get in the way.

    Every writer needs a stage where they start off, do their research, read, read, read, read, read, read, write, write, write, gain confidence and so on. The point isn't to give that stage a cute name, it's to struggle past it.

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  37. I would say that the willingness to be published "no matter what" is a bad thing. It might cause you to follow a trend, to write a book that isn't genuine. I could write a dystopian novel if I wanted to. I could write a paranormal angsty book if I wanted to. And that might get me published quicker (something I don't want to talk about right now... grr... ;) I agree "pre-published" probably is a bit misleading. But to say that somebody needs to be constantly stressing about whatever the next step is seems off. I have an agent (Michael, actually) and I do feel pressure to write at a high level. However, if you take out the fun - the joy I find in writing - then the pressure becomes more than I want to deal with. Get ready for a cliche, friends... Life is too short. I say have fun with your writing; call yourself pre-published if you want (I don't...); but the writing needs to be fun. It just does.

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  38. I loved this post. I've often wondered about such things, being a "pre-published" author.

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  39. Wow, thank you for a good, cold dose of reality. It reminds me to be grateful, and it keeps me grounded.

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  40. Drat, just spilled my half-full glass of lemonade.

    Seriously, I think this post has all manner of interesting and heartening ideas. Whether it's pre-pubbed or pubbed or alter-pubbed or never-to-be-pubbed, it's important to remember what got you started in the first place: the thrill of creating a story, of chasing it through the labyrinthine bends of your imagination. If all you're thinking about is pub-this or pub-that during the process, it's just stultifying, no?

    Well, I'll probably think differently tomorrow, but all this pub talk has me heading to the pub for a stronger replacement for my afore-mentioned spilled lemonade. Cheers!

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  41. Wow, I saved this to read later--meanwhile, a zillion comments came in! Seems like a real hot-button! I just wanted to say thank you for posting this, Michael. It is really helpful to so many of us! I was also in the audience that day and took your words to heart.

    Thanks to June for mentioning the "fear of success". I have felt like I am slowly approaching that shiny, golden door of something-good-might-be-happening-in-the-not-too-distant-future-and-you'd-better-brace-yourself. And sometimes I want to put on the brakes! All my insecurities rise to the surface and I wonder what life will be like on "the other side." But of course, I still want to get there! I just appreciate the reminder to savor where I am right now. It's too easy to get angsty and fretful and impatient. I'm going to enjoy the freedom of this stage of the process. Thanks!

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  42. Molly, I think another common feeling among writers starting out is Kazio Ishiguru's point 'You can become addicted to the idea of having potential'.

    The idea of delighting in 'prepubbing' feeds into that, I think. Finding happiness in the idea that if you just got your s#!t together you'd conquer the world, rather than actually getting it together.

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  43. Thanks for this post, Michael. It's helpful to remember to enjoy this time. As a new writer, I'm often plagued by doubts about whether I'm skilled, talented, persistent, and thick-skinned enough to be published, let alone sustain a long career. A hobby gardener may grow lovely tomatoes, but should she go into large-scale farming? Writing seems one of the few passions people pursue that society expects to "go somewhere." No one asks an avid golfer when they will hit the PGA tour, or harass a knitter about when their clothing line is coming out, yet writers (and musicians, I suppose?) aren't really given as much permission by others to enjoy the process along the way, are they?
    I'm enjoying creating without the demands right now, but I also have a sneaking suspicion that I am as fearful as success as of failure and might be enjoying this part TOO much.

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  44. I am SO happy to see this post! So very, very true.

    Through reading other people's blogs and articles, I can see what a published author needs to do and so I have ENTIRELY been enjoying the time I have right now to 'do what I want' creatively.

    Yes, I eventually want to join the ranks of 'published authors' (novels), but until then, I'll happily enjoy the time I have.


    Thanks so much for this! :)

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  45. Anon 9:13,

    A writer is a writer, whether published or not. What's the difference between someone who's written a novel and is unpublished and someone who's written a novel and is published? That's a simple one: money. But it doesn't mean that one is a writer and the other is not. "Money" alone does not define who is or who isn't a writer.

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  46. "What's the difference between someone who's written a novel and is unpublished and someone who's written a novel and is published?"

    'Writer' is a broad term. It's like 'driver'. I'm a driver. I couldn't win the European Grand Prix tomorrow. Yet, I'm a driver. Is the only difference between me and Lewis Hamilton 'money'? No, don't be stupid.

    People write for different reasons. Most people who write don't expect to be professionally published, it's basic self-expression, and that's wonderful and positive.

    If you *want* to be professionally published, though, the rules change. 'Money' is a necessary condition of achieving your goal, yes. By definition. 'Money' is not *how* you achieve your goal.

    What's the difference? You've convinced others. Agents, editors, publishers, stores and ultimately readers. Could two people write exactly the same thing, and one be published and one not be and one's a writer and the other one isn't? Yes.

    Look at Jessica's post here this week about comparison titles and how coming up with them shows agents and publishers that you're serious. See how simple it is, how it's all about understanding where your book would fit? Question 1: 'who would publish a book like yours?'. This is the easiest question in the world to answer *if you ask it*.

    It's the difference between 'wanting to be' and 'being', between 'Presidential hopeful' and 'getting elected'.

    Writing attracts weird, sentimental thoughts. You wouldn't say the only difference between someone who wants to be an electrician and who has some wiring in a drawer somewhere is an electrician. Even in the other arts, it's much more socially acceptable to acknowledge the difference between, say, someone who sings and a professional singer. For some reason, everyone counts as a writer and it's really mean to suggest otherwise.

    If it is psychologically comforting to imagine that the 'only difference' between you, a writer who wants to be published, and [insert name of bestselling author] is 'money', then take the comfort, you probably need it. Might I suggest you also start talking about how your work is unsullied by commercial imperatives and is therefore 'pure'? That might feel good, too.

    Such thoughts will get you precisely nowhere if you are sincere in your desire to have your book published, though.

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  47. Anon,

    "'Writer' is a broad term." Precisely. End of Story. Your explanation does a lot of assuming. Take away all of the assumptions and you've got nothing.

    I'm sick and tired of jaded writers/people/whoever desperately trying to find a way to prove that they are somehow better than the next man, whether it be in writing or something else. Read: "I'm a writer because I published this, this, or this, or A, B, C." In your original post you talk about self-delusion that so-called 'aspiring writers' have, well that self delusion swings both ways. In fact, it swings all which ways, don't forget that.

    If it's psychologically satisfying to erroneously think of 'aspiring writers' as one big group of daydreamers, then by all means keep doing it, if that's what you need to give yourself courage to write the next page.

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  48. (This is the Anonymous you were replying to)

    "I'm sick and tired of jaded writers/people/whoever desperately trying to find a way to prove that they are somehow better than the next man"

    I am not a better man. I am, as a published author, better *at being published*. We're all daydreamers, of course we are.

    I don't see all the people who call themselves writers 'one big group'. I thought I'd made that clear. I think the vast majority of people who write do it purely for their own satisfaction. Good for them, and for finding a means of self-expression they enjoy.

    Now, what's left are people who want to be published.

    You don't get published by getting comfortable, by drawing strength from stories of rejection, by celebrating that you're 'prepubbed' while you're there.

    It's the opposite. Tens of thousands of people get published every year. How? Well, as it turns out, the path is extremely well mapped and virtually everyone falls into the same pattern. they have a good idea, which they craft into a good book, which they understand the market for and get to an agent (or direct to an editor) who they have grounds to think will like it. This isn't *easy*, but it's a process and it involves goals and striving and practical, concrete things like research.

    Another analogy - you lose weight by eating less and exercising more. That's it. That's the secret. You don't do it magically, by having a gym card or buying a fitness machine, or thinking of yourself as 'pre-thin'. 'Wanting to' is useless. Losing weight involves struggle, sacrifice, goals and practicalities. All those diet pills and Ab-matictrons and so on are designed to prey on people who want it easy, not people who genuinely want to lose weight.

    There are so many 'diet pills' for aspiring writers. Courses and books and so on that don't deal with practicalities, but about support and feeling great. You may need to feel better about yourself. Feeling good is better than feeling bad. However, how you feel about yourself is almost entirely unrelated to how an agent or editor feels about you.

    There's a simple test: does the idea of being 'prepubbed' make you (1) Feel better about yourself or (2) Get you nearer to your goal of being published?

    All I can say is the moment I ditched all the (1)s and started to concentrate on the (2)s, I quickly became a published writer, writing what I always wanted to write. I'm way happier now than I was when I was 'prepubbed'. The grass is greener on this side, and don't let anyone tell you different.

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  49. I'd bet I know who this client is and, if I'm correct, she is the opitomy of hard work and devotion to her craft and it shows. It must get exhausting at times, but boy do I look forward to joining her on the post-published side of the wall -not because I think it will be easier, but because that is where my goal lies!

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  50. Thank you, Michael, for enlightening so many of us. I have recently sold in e-publishing, and while thrilled, feel a difference in my excitement level for writing. For months I've contemplated this phenomenon. Imagine my relief when you put it into words for me.

    Now my goal is to retrieve the organic process of writing I loved before working ms's with publication only in mind. The balance is essential to my creative flow. Thanks again.

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  51. Wow - helpful, sobering, daunting (hello - muttering - maybe discouraging but really very helpful). I think I got just as much insight from the comments as the original post - and I loved the original post. Thank you to you all. I do wonder how to describe myself sometimes. I don't want to say "I'm a writer" because I have not even finished anything yet - much less tried to get published. "I want to write" (but I am writing). Not enough - but I am writing. "I want to be published someday" (?) does that work best? Thanks again.

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  52. Thank you for this. I needed this. I have been pouring stories onto paper. The genres are all over the place. Whichever voices demand the loudest to be heard, get my time. Its fun and exasperating, and I've been fretting about who I am as a writer. What is my voice? Who is it? Who do I write for? Ahh! It has been frustrating, not liberating...until now. Thank you for saying that it is more than OK to write just to write and love the journey.

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  53. Oh gracious. Some of these peeps are getting all in a tizzy. I Loved this post, Michael. And as an agented, "pre-pubbed" author, I can totally relate. I know, for example, that once my book (that's on sub) sells, I have to refocus on the edits, and put away the really creative fun one I'm working on now. AND, if I happen to sell the creative mess that is my WIP, I will have to suddenly explain the storyline to my new editor, in hopes of selling it, and I'm not even sure where it's going right now. There will be a new feeling of pressure to work fast, and figure things out quickly when *right now* I can take things slower and really think out of the box, etc...

    So, yes, it is frustrating at times to be pre-pubbed, but just yesterday I was thanking God that I hadn't sold my novel yet because I had a fabulous idea of how to revise and improve it, and if it had sold, I might not have read the book that gave it to me. And now I can change it and make it better before it sells.

    So, tra la la. I loved this post. Thanks you :)

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  54. I fully agree with this being a great posting. I never really thought of being "pre-pubbed". I am definitely a writer. I have finished two nonfiction mss, one a memoir, and a humor wip. Nothing has been published as yet; so, I can not call myself an author (unpublished author?). Whatever I am, I too enjoy the process, but have very high hopes of being on the shelves of B&N. If it does not happen, and I am planning to keep at it for another forty years (I am only 65 at this point), then I will have given it a very good shot. I still love what I do, and I do hope that others will enjoy what I do half as much. I am also not remaining with the same genre. After I have completed that humor book, I am thinking seriously about several novel ideas. Maybe that will be my nitche. Meanwhile, back to querying for my memoir. John M.

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  55. In essence, all of us should just enjoy the moment. No time in an author's life is free of angst. Different stages contain different woes ... and blessings.

    Don't live in the past ... can't go back. Don't live in the future, you may not have much of one left. Live now. Enjoy the pleasures each task brings. Roland

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  56. This is a great point - especially since I tend to focus more on my arrivals than my journeys anyway. ;/

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  57. Then you are in the wrong business. You should be a financial professional or a construction manager. Because if time was money we would live in a vaccum of space or a black hole. That is the author's point. If you don't cherish the process then don't bother. Because being published isn't the joy... the process is the joy. I agree.

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  58. I have no quibble with you in regards to the pressures and stresses put on published authors. However, I'd like to point out that as unpublished authors we are quite busy doing many of the things your author attributes to only the published. We build and maintain websites, participate in professional organizations, blog, social network, write articles--in essence, build platforms and identify and reach our future audience so when we finally do have a book to offer there will be people to buy them. And this is in addition to improving our craft and trying to write that book that will catch the agent's eye. First time authors (and wannabes) are being cautioned continually of the lack of publisher promotion available to us, and how much we will have to do ourselves. We are strongly advised to get busy right now or when our ship finally arrives it won't stick around long enough for us to pack our suitcases.

    Yes, a published author's life is not stress free, but neither is the unpublished author's.

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  59. I totally agree! Thanks so much for the encouargement and the reminder :)

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