Wednesday, October 1, 2014

It's All About Perspective

Okay, so I think our view of life changes as we get more experiences behind us. I know it has for me. Sometimes in our lives, as well as in publishing, we need to gain more perspective.

Sometimes I find myself becoming impatient. I want things to happen right now, or at least as quickly as possible. Sometimes publishing moves fast, and sometimes I need to step back and gain more perspective.

So here are some things I've learned in the recent past.

1. There's not a ticking clock for getting a book published. It could be this year, or next, or the year after, on in ten years.

2. Maybe you have a book you've already written that will sell, or maybe you're writing one now. But maybe, just maybe, you haven't written the thing that's going to sell. So it's probably best to stop moping about what hasn't sold and write something else. Something you love. Something that's worthwhile whether it sells or not.

Okay, that last paragraph was a pep talk to myself. But I'm not going to erase it, because maybe, just maybe, someone else needs to read that too. And maybe they (or you!) can learn from something I've realized--however painful it may have been--in the recent past.

3. Another's success does not take a "spot" for you. Sometimes there's this underlying frustration that it's not happening for you when it is happening for someone else. We start asking ourselves, "Why? What am I doing wrong? Or what are they doing that's so right, or so much better, than me?"

These are dangerous questions, and if/when you find yourself asking them, I highly suggest reading #2 again and getting back to work on a project you feel passionate about.

Even if it's not writing.

Oh yeah. I said it.

4. Sometimes you need a break from writing. I know, I know. That goes against everything in my impatient core. I want to write the next bestseller NOW. I want my agent to read NOW. I want to query NOW. I want everything NOW! (I feel a bit like Veruca in Willy Wonka!)

But sometimes, just sometimes, it's okay NOT to write. Not to think about it. Not to let your whole life be consumed by it. <<I highly advocate this anyway, but especially during a time when you're trying to gain some perspective on your publishing journey.

So yeah. Those are some things I've realized as I've taken a few steps back and tried to find some perspective on publishing.

Anything you've learned recently? Lay it on me!


SA Larsenッ said...

I have to stop you at #1. Thank you. For some unknown reason, I have this death wish with the clock and publishing a full-fledged novel. I have plenty of work out there in magazines, newspapers, and short stories. But for some reason, this plagues me to the point it hinders me.

Stina Lindenblatt said...

Thank you, Elana! You've just said everything I've been thinking about for a while. Publishing can suck the joy out of why we write. But when you shut out the noise and go back to the reasons why you do it, the love for it returns.

Rosalyn said...

Oh man, it's like you wrote this for me. I struggle with impatience all the time (I'm querying for the second time--though *not* my second novel--and both times I've jumped the query gun). But I have been thinking that I need to write because writing feeds something in me--if I write for any other reason, I'm liable to be disappointed (though that doesn't always stop me from wanting more).

Stephsco said...

I have to be reminded to celebrate the small successes. It can be tough when people, well meaning, ask "so when is your book being published?" They don't understand the role of an agent and that it doesn't mean I already have a book contract. I've done a lot in the meantime--wrote new manuscripts, finaled in peer-reviewed contests, and try to focus on that.

Liza said...

Stepping back a bit recharges things. After a rest, that muse starts whispering again. BTW, pretty sure I'm on the 10-year plan! Take heart. There's still life!

Laurel Garver said...

I really resonate with all of this. On your final point, I've been reading this great nonfiction book _Around the Writer's Block_ and the author is a big believer in creative play, meditation and periods of downtime to creatively recharge. She actually includes fallow periods--when you refill the tank rather than produce--as one of the normal steps of writing. That definitely removes any freak out factor from taking breaks. It's not only normal, but necessary.

JeffO said...

Good stuff, Elana. I might add "Don't read your agent's blog". Mine has posted a couple of consecutive weeks of success stories. I'm happy for her and her clients (see #3), but man, I really want to be the subject of one of those posts! Back to #2 with me!

Angela Brown said...

You are so right about all the points you mention, Elana. But the point about comparing yourself to others? That one is one I try to remind myself about all the time. I don't have any clue what the back story is for that person who appears to have hit overnight success... one that probably took 7 years of work, disappointment and rejection to reach. So yeah, that's the one I always come back to.

Kathryn Purdie said...

Wise words. I love this post and I love you, Elana. You're seriously one of my favorite people. Thanks for always keeping it real AND inspiring. A tough feat. <3

David P. King said...

Perspective is important to bear in mind. I've been looking for that myself over the summer. Wise words to live by, Elana! :)

Anna Soliveres said...

Great post, Elana. I'm a big advocate on the part of taking a break from writing when you have to. I want to keep writing because it's fun for me. I hate when it makes me miserable because of the stress I put on myself to keep writing when the muse just isn't there. I balance between pushing myself and just knowing when it's time to stop. :)

Sharon K. Mayhew said...

Elana, I really really really want to write a horror story, but I'm terrified to start. It's such a switch from my current path. I think perhaps I need to read more before I can get up the gumption.

Elizabeth Cooper said...

Thank you for this post! I have such a time ticking mentality. If I don't complete something in that moment I think there is no chance of that task completing at all. This tends to make my work pressured and pushed, leaving my writing less then what it could be with an open mind and giving myself space.

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