I went out to lunch with writer friends this past weekend, and we had the most interesting conversation. One of the writers has her debut novel coming out in February through Avon’s Impulse. My debut novel came out in September through Carina Press, and the other author has two books out with Desire/Harlequin. Her third is releasing soon. Our group also included two writers not yet published or agented.
I talk to my non-writer friends about how anxious I’ve been about my book. They don’t get it. They tell me I should just be happy that I’m published. If only it were that simple. I thought I was the only one to get this bent out of shape about numbers, piracy and promotion. I’ve been putting a lot of pressure on myself to get something else out there—strike while the iron is hot, build momentum, etc. That haste has led to a number of unfortunate mistakes, and for every step forward, I take two back. It’s all been making me crazy, and I’ve been feeling pretty isolated—until lunch on Saturday.
Guess what? I’m normal! (Eh. I see my children rolling their eyes. They don’t agree.) The author whose third book is soon to be released told me she experienced all the same emotions, thoughts and stress I’ve been experiencing. The soon-to-be-released writer says she doesn’t feel prepared for promotion. The anxiety is already starting for her. We discussed different promotional paths. What we’ve heard works, what doesn’t, etc. Then the conversation drifted to why we write. Now, this is where things started to click for me.
The series writer is driven. She wants to make her living writing books. I’m looking at this as supplemental income. I truly thought I was driven until I talked to her. She said if you want to make money and succeed, you have to write at least three books per year. Momentum and marketing are everything. I remarked that I thought everyone who writes wants to make money.
Wow. The table erupted. I was wrong. Did you know that money isn’t the bottom line to every writer? Some people write and desire to be published, and that’s enough. And, that’s Okay. Some write just for the creative outlet and don’t care about getting published. And, that too is Okay. Some writers like to hang out with writerly types, and they don’t really care whether or not they ever finish that first novel. Also Okay.
I feel significantly calmer today. Everyone has to decide for themselves why they’re in this business. I’m not putting so much pressure on myself today. I want other books out there, but I’m not going to rush my process. Money would be nice, but it’s the passion for the written word that keeps me here. It’s the stories. It might take me longer to climb the mountain than it’s going to take my series writer friend. And you know what? I’m all right with that. (Today, anyway.) I’ve decided that I’m in it for the story.