Monday, April 9, 2012

Gray day...gray thoughts

I know that this happens to every writer at some time, regardless of genre.   Let me add a bit of detail.

In the beginning when you first decide to write, your mind seems to explode with wonderful ideas.  Thoughts seem to roll down directly from your brain to your fingers.   Books seem to write themselves. Every idea is a brand new take on a theme...never before dreamed of by man nor beast.  These to me were the "I can do anything" years.  You say to yourself, "If Mary SoandSo  can be a success, why can't I?  You edit and edit and pass your manuscript around and around.  Family and friends are so encouraging..."Who knew you could write so well?"   Finally you think your book is ready.  Out comes the trusty Children's Book Market Guide and you search for the websites that are looking for exactly what you've written.
 Aha!    You've found the perfect publisher.  Out goes the manuscript with the  oh-so-clever letter  and the ubiquitous SASE.  Now, 10 years ago there would have been dozens of houses to choose from and you would have actually received a reply.  Granted, some would be form letters of rejection but precious others would include hand written notes from a "real editor" with encouraging bits of wisdom.  OK.  They still rejected your story but they thought you really had something of merit to offer the world of KidLit.
I remember...I actually framed my first rejection letter.  It was supposed to be something to chuckle over after my success.  Naivete has its own rewards.
So you mail and mail with no  results and after a few years you realize just how small the market is becoming.  Indie Houses have gone under or have been swallowed up by the Giants.  Fewer and fewer will publishers will accept un-agented material and the agents are even harder to query.  Most of the publishers will not have the courtesy to reply.  They're simply overwhelmed.  Every bored Mom or English major is sure they can write the next "Harry Potter."
You're still writing, of course, but much of your initial enthusiasm has drained away.  Any explosions in your head are now ones of doubt...doubt that your work has any value at all.   Do you have a unique "voice?"  What about branding and platforms?   Are you playing the Social Media game to your best advantage?   Very confusing and certainly not for the faint of heart.
Finally you must face what you believe.   Why do you write?
A.   I have to.  It's a passion.
B.   To sell books.
C.   To achieve fame and fortune.
If you didn't answer "A"  you may as well throw away your paper and pencil.   "B"  can happen in today's world of e-publishing but it won't be very satisfying and "C"...well...achieving fame and fortune writing for children is a difficult and maybe even questionable goal  and comes to only a few.
Know what?  Today is a gloomy depressing day with thoughts that match, but like any writer, you must have an ego (quite a large one) and perhaps the "sun'll come out tomorrow"  and along with it  hope and self confidence and more wonderful ideas. 
With that said I'll leave you with this.
"What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us."
                                                    Ralph Waldo Emerson

No comments:

Post a Comment