Tuesday, October 23, 2012

When Nothing is Ever Good Enough


As a fledgling writer, getting an agent was always the One Big Goal. If I could just get an agent, then all of the stress, all of the hair-pulling that goes along with writing a book, would be a thing of the past.  It’d mean I’d made it as an author, and everything else would be smooth sailing from there on out. (Present me laughs at past me).

Then I got an agent, and I was thrilled! And then? And then we went on submission, and along with all the waiting and the rejection letters and worrying I wouldn’t sell and that it’d be so embarrassing after I’d told everyone I knew that I was on submission, so returned the stress and the hair-pulling. So then the One Big Goal, the goal that’d mean I’d made it, after which everything else would be smooth sailing, became getting a book deal.

So then I got an offer from Random House, and I was thrilled! And then? And then came the waiting for my editorial letter, and the arrival of that editorial letter, and outlining book two, and worrying my editor would find my ideas laughable, and worrying about public speaking, and deadlines, and author photos, and acknowledgements and dedications (and that’s saying nothing of finding time to write book two). And I actually said the words to Ruth Lauren Steven (well okay, I typed the words, but you get the point),that I wouldn’t be stressed out anymore once I’d successfully delivered the second book in the contract. So I’d like to share with you Ruth’s sage advice.



Well it turns out that I deleted that email, but it was something to the effect of this: Stress will always be a part of the job. Whether it’s getting an agent, getting that book deal, revision letters, marketing, worrying that your book will tank…we’re never going to reach the point where this isn’t stressful or hard. Writing books is hard.  (Except she said it way better and it wasn’t condescending).

And it’s true. If it were meant to be easy, it wouldn’t be so rewarding. And while it’s definitely okay to be stressed out at any stage of the game, whether you’re a fledgling author or a NYT-bestseller, and while it’ so so important to have goals, there’s also something to be said for being happy with where you are. Not necessarily putting a complete stop on all the ‘Well, that’s great, but what next?’ and ‘If I can just do this one thing, then I’ll finally be satisfied’ mentality, but trying your best to take a moment to stop and smell the roses.




31 comments:

  1. What's that Buddhist saying - something about there is no yesterday, there is no tomorrow, there's only now.

    But I know exactly what you mean.

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    1. That's awesome, Jaye! I'll have to remember that.

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  2. This is exactly me (who would have thought you and I would be similar?). I'm always setting goals for myself and then I stress and stress and stress until I achieve my goal, but I'm never satisfied. I just keep updating the goals.

    We need to learn to chill out!

    *deep breaths*

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    1. Chill out is right. We'll start...RIGHT NOW! It'll be our new goal! (okay, that was lame).

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  3. I love the quote by the brilliant G-Martin:
    “He who hurries through life hurries to his grave.”

    It really has made me stop and smell them roses!

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    1. That's possibly the best quote ever! Thanks, Paulina!

      Also, WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN?!?!

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    2. I have been ass-deep in midterms and assignments.

      I do read every entry!

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  4. That's awesome, Paulina! Love it.

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  5. Such a good post. And Pauline's quote is my new mantra. :) Thanks, Michelle! *HUGS*

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    1. Aww, thanks Kathryn! Glad you liked it (and Paulina's quote too--Paulina rules!)

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  6. LOVE this post. It is so relevant. I go through phases (I'm rewriting my entire novel with a completely different voice) where I say "this is great" then I think "this is terrible and the agent who req'd revisions will not want it...in fact NO ONE will want it"....then I take a breath and remind myself I can always self publish ;)
    Stress IS a part of a writer's life. Maybe they should include it in the writer handbook LOL

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    1. Ha! Maybe you should write one, Rachel? That could be a hit!

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  7. AWESOME quote Paulina! I love finding great quotes :) Thank you for this inspiring post. I think I'll try remembering this message for the rest of my writing life.

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  8. You know, I'm starting to come to exactly that conclusion. The thing is, there always *will* be something else, won't there? But in a way that's liberating, knowing that there will always be higher hills to climb. It means we've climbed the ones that have come before, and we will always have goals and hopes and things to strive for. And knowing that the pressure will always be there does, in a way, take a little off the current pressure. Just a bit, maybe, but still. At the very least, it's a good reminder to look back on what we *have* accomplished already, knowing that if we've come this far, we can keep going.

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    1. So true, Caryn. That's another nice way to look at it :)

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  9. Stress lets us know we're alive and that we care about what we're doing. I guess keeping it in proportion is the difficult thing. Still don't know how to do that. :-)

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    1. Very true, Amaleen. And if you find out, please do let me know!

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  10. Writing is, and will always be a journey. When we reach the end there will be no more to write. So the best thing is to enjoy whatever part of the path we're on and keep moving forward.

    Sometimes (ok, most times) thats easier said then done.

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    1. That's a good way to look at it, S.P. Thanks for the input :)

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  11. This is something I've been struggling with for the past few months, ever since setting out to find an agent. It's a slow process, and over the past few weeks, I've started to learn to be happy in the moment. Life doesn't begin one partial request or offer of representation from now. If I waited until my life was exactly like I wanted it to be happy, I'd never be happy. So I'm choosing to be happy with the good things that I have now. :)

    (Wow, I just said happy 3 times in one paragraph...I need to find a new word.)

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    1. Sounds like the same thing I'm trying to do!

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  12. This post: so true. THAT IS ALL;-)

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    1. I'm so glad people agree this a 'thing' and I'm not just an ungrateful cow!

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  13. Thank you for this! I'm going through pretty much the exact same thing...thinking that all would be perfect once I got an agent. Now that I'm in submissions with actual editors, if anything the stress is worse than before! Ahh! Thanks for letting me know I'm not alone...=)

    If I may ask, what's the process like for you from when you got an agen to the point where you got an offer?

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    1. Congrats on being on submission! How exciting (and yes, nerve-racking!). The process for me was something like this:

      -Agent acquired
      -Few weeks of edits for agent
      -A month of being on sub, pulling out hair, checking email 700 times a day as rejections rolled in, then boom, offer. Pretty quick in the world of publishing, though it didn't feel that way. And after that, everything slowed riiiiiiiight down.

      Good luck!!!

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  14. This is really funny - I'm where you were. I feel like once I get an agent I can die happy. I'll be curious to see what it's like once I get to the other side - if I'll be coming back to say, "You told me so!" :P

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