Monday, December 5, 2011

The Truth, The Whole Truth, and Nothing But The Truth

Okay, so remember that post I put up a few weeks ago about if you'd be less impressed if I stopped doing certain things? (Click here to read it.)

Well, today's post is along the same emotional vein. And it's this horrible, ugly truth that some of you may not want to be exposed to without the proper protective gear or something.

I feel like I should give you fair warning on that. I don't normally let this side of publishing out there, but I feel like it's something that I need to get out of myself.

It's the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

I have been a bit lost on my blog as of late. If you've been around, you know that. I have been re-evaluating everything in my writing life, and trying to make the best decisions for me.

Some things I've realized:
1. Being published hasn't changed who I am. In actuality, my life hasn't changed at all. Okay, not that much.

2. In the six months since POSSESSION came out, I have been trying to figure out where I fit on "this side" of the fence.

I have felt jealousy.

I've cried.
Watched too much TV and eaten too much candy in an attempt to detach from whatever it is that's making me jealous/angry/joyful/excited.

I've felt guilty.
Never alone.
And foolish.

Oh, so foolish. Maybe I'm the only author who's felt this way. I did not think my life would change when my book was published. And like I said, it hasn't. But somehow, along the way, I allowed myself to think that I was important.

And it's hard to accept and swallow the fact that I'm not. It makes a person shy away from the Internet and try to take stock of their situation. As I have done this, I have realized The Truth.

3. I am a midlist author, and POSSESSION is a midlist hardcover.

This is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

4. I am not an important author, with an important message. POSSESSION is not an important novel that is nominated for multiple--or any--awards, and it is not a Best Book of Anything.

I feel foolish for hoping for such things, or worse, expecting them.

And I feel foolish for allowing any of the above to make me feel anything but grateful and satisfied.

Because, dude, 5. I wrote and published a novel. A bestseller? No. Midlist? Yes.

Through all of this, I've realized something else:
6. I wrote a book I would like to read. I didn't sit down to write a book so that it could be nominated for awards, or that would change the lives of those who read it, or anything else.

7. I write because I like it. I write books that I'd like to read.

That's it. The truth.

I don't even have a question for you today. Thanks for reading this mongo long thing, and forgive me as I continue to hibernate, work past the foolishness, and try to be the best writer I can be.


Natalie Aguirre said...

Thanks for being so honest. Those of us not published have similar feelings at times and it's good to be warned we'll probably still have them.

I think most of us will be midlist if we even get published. And you are important. You've worked hard, made a name for yourself, and written an awesome book that many of us and our kids enjoyed. That's huge.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

But those are good truths! I didn't write my book to win awards or to change the world - I wrote what I enjoyed reading and hoped others would as well. No, it's not going to win a Hugo or anything. No one's going to make a movie out of it. I'm an average author with a small publisher. My only claim to fame is that it hit Amazon's Best Seller chart, but a whole year after its release!
I don't want any of this to change me either. Funny you'd write this today, as that's the same slant I'm taking for Wednesday's Insecure Writer's Support Group post.
There's no arriving in this business - only the journey.

Stina said...

I don't write books to win awards, either. I write the stories I like to read. And heck, I don't really read that many award winning novels, so what can I expect?

As for the jealousy, angst and all those emotions. We all feel those no matter what job we're doing. You're human (right?). You'd be a cardboard cutout (you know, the kind we writers try to avoid when creating characters) if you didn't feel that way. I bet even best selling authors experience them, too.

Laura Pauling said...

I think as a published writer on the other side of the fence, you aren't alone. I keep hearing here and there exactly what you are feeling. That life hasn't really changed.

I think it's great you wrote what you love and would love to read. That's what I do too, regardless of awards and such not. And I agree with Stina, I think we all experience those emotions, regardless of what side of the fence we're on.

Just keep being you, Elana. That's why people read your blog. your honesty.

Anonymous said...

Following a lot of the published authors at LTUE that I root for, I have heard this before. It's got to be tough.

I just want to say, it's because of your work in the online community that I have been able to learn a lot about my own writing process, how to prepare my first queries, and that I have an online community of writers that I can call my friends.

Your book may not have any awards yet, but I know there are plenty of others who are also grateful for your work, your book, and their connections with you!

Lindsay N. Currie said...

Okay, so, I love this for a variety of reasons. It resonates with all of us because we all feel foolish, afraid, jealous and sometimes downright bitter about whatever leg of the publishing journey we are in. It's interesting to hear that this feelings don't necessarily go away when we get the elusive publishing deal, but simply morph into different ones. I have to say though, you've accomplished a ton and hopefully, getting this off of your chest allows you to accept that POSSESSION Is exactly what it was meant to be. A great book written by a lovely author.

Heather Sunseri said...

I love this, Elana! And I appreciate the "whole truth" from a wonderful blogger and author who is reaching so many. Good for you for putting up some great truth and honesty today.

Unknown said...

Elana, I love that you never sugar-coat. This was amazing. It's tough out there to know where you stand. To want to be bigger and to end up where you hadn't expected.

I think your book is beautiful, it was captivating (midlist or not). Thank you for all your honesty :D

*sends chocolate covered bacon*

LynnRush said...

LOVE your transparency, Elana. It's inspiring.

Leigh Ann said...

Okay, here's the thing.

So you're not important. Your book isn't bestselling, whatever. (Does that make POSSESSION less important/valuable/awesome than TWILIGHT? I guess that's a topic for another post.)


I read POSSESSION. And I loved it, and I thought the characters were awesome, and the setting/worldbuilding/premise was unique and mind-blowing.

And I thought about it, and recommended it, and some of my friends read it, and they loved it too.

(And by the way, I'm gonna disagree with you that the message wasn't important.)

And then, as an aspiring author, I started to read your blog. And not only did you help me on my querying path, but your story inspired me. And your classiness and contributions to the writing community continue to impress me.

So, are you important? Well, I guess it depends on who you ask. But to are. You really really are.

(And I'm not trying to suck up or anything, because there are a million "more important" authors I could write this to, and you don't know me from Eve, and your career is way too far ahead of mine for you to ever actually help me get published.)

But seriously. Don't ever tell yourself you're not important. Because I guarantee there are tons of others like me.

Katie Ganshert said...

Elana - this is beautiful and honest and touching. Especially for me....since my debut novel hits shelves this May and I'm not quite sure what to hope for or how to feel.

Krista said...

I want to let you know that this post encourages me. I often worry that when I become published (whether or not my book takes off) - my reasons for writing will change.

I don't want to write to sell. I want to write stories that captivate my imagination.

So hearing that you have been published and managed to hold on to that is really encouraging to me.

Amy said...

I'm much much less farther along than most, I'm still trying to finish writing that first book. But I agree with everyone. You are important. Maybe not in the way that a bestselling author is, but to those of us who read your books and your blog, you are.

I may be more of a reader than a writer, but I'll be honest with you. I thought POSSESSION was better than some best selling books that have movie options out there.

I think your work is great, and I look forward to reading a lot more of it!

Jessica Bell said...

I think it's logical to feel like this and I don't think you should feel bad about voicing it. Just keep doing what you love. That's what's going to keep you going in this world. Oh, and your family. Don't forget your family! :)

Creepy Query Girl said...

I am an advocate for sharing the good, the bad, and more importantly, the REAL in all that is publishing. It is impossible to be positive all the time if you're in this busiess, no matter what point you're at. That's one thing I've learned from hanging around writers at various stages these last few years. There will ALWAYS be highs and lows. It is what it is. You have a lot to be proud of!

Anonymous said...

I love your honesty. And I love this post. Thank you for writing it and for being who you are, Elana.

Rosalyn said...

I love how honest this post is. I think sometimes we get so caught up in the what-ifs of publishing that we start to forget whey we got into this in the first place: we love telling stories. Thanks for a much needed reminder!

Christine Fonseca said...

As everyone has already said, it is your authenticity that I love so much. Hugs!!!

Gilly said...

Any job which involves creativity and sharing the products of that creativity will involve lots of ups and down, satisfaction and heartbreak. And I think creative people often feel things more deeply.

Having high expectations of yourself is what allowed you to write a book and have it published! Even if not all of those expectations pan out, on balance, the important thing is for you to be proud of yourself and the things you have accomplished. When you're down, give yourself time to be down because it's normal and everyone feels it. And then try to remind yourself there are lots of people out there who read and enjoyed the story you told!

Slamdunk said...

And your #6 and #7 make all the difference in the world. Congrats Elana on your success and staying true to yourself.

Bish Denham said...

Oh Elana. There is no better reason for writing a book than because it's the kind of book that you want to read. That you got it published is a wonderful bonus.

Unknown said...

I just stumbled up on your blog this wet and monday morning. And I love your honesty! I am finishing my first novel and it has been a long but wonderful journey. And I have written a book that I would like to read. I hope someday it will be published. And I hope that others would appreciated it snatch it off the shelves.

But isn't it wonderful that you are taking an honest look and vocalizing the truth for the rest of us out there ... Thank you for being brave and authentic.

Unknown said...

POSSESSION is now on my list of to-reads on GoodReads. So one more sale! Good on ya!

Tasha Seegmiller said...

I love this and think that it relates to so many aspects of our lives. Remember (I'm sure you have heard this before) "Life is like an old-time rail journey—delays, sidetracks, smoke, dust, cinders, and jolts interspersed only occasionally by beautiful vistas and thrilling bursts of speed. The trick is to thank the Lord for letting you have the ride.”

But here's what you didn't post. You have made a difference, you have changed lives. Your first book was hardbound. It is in the middle of the list. And because of what you do and have done, people truly feel something different in their lives - because of you.

So, from one of these people, thanks.

Paul Greci said...

Great post, Elana!!
It's a good reminder about the reasons we write what we write.
Thank you!!

Chelsey said...

Others have said all the right things in ways better than I can, but I admire you for writing the post. And for what it's worth, I think you're important. :-)

Mary Ann said...

I think it is a truth universally acknowledged that all writers would like to be able to write that break-out book that sets the world on its ear. I know that I do. When I start thinking about how to do that it saps all of the joy out of writing.

I think you are doing exactly what you should--writing what you like to read. I also think you should always hope and expect the best. Don't confine yourself to a label.

Casey McCormick said...

I love when you're honest, Elana. I think a lot of authors experience the same extremes. I feel like I'm hibernating in the same way, and I'm no where near published. I hope we can both get past ourselves soon. <3

Lola Sharp said...

You ARE very important. *hugs*


Nicole Zoltack said...

I write books I would want to read. Nothing more, nothing less, although I hope others would want to read them too. :)

Ghenet Myrthil said...

Thank you for your honesty! I appreciate hearing what you've felt because I'm sure I'll feel the same if (when!) I get published. Personally, I think you should be very proud of yourself and your accomplishments! I'm sure you are.

Anonymous said...

You life has changed more than you know. I've read possession, and enjoyed it very much. I have met you, and I think you are so cool because you have a book published. Hey your book might not be a best seller now, but you never know what will happen in five years!

Have a great day Elena, and in my book you're a celebrity! (Not literally in my book, but you know what I mean right?)

virg_nelson said...

I read Possession. My kids read Possession. My copy is all dogeared and pathetic looking and it hasn't been out that long (Yes, this means I will have to get another copy and find some way to go waaaaay out west to get you to sign it.) but I have tons of books on my shelves that look beautiful because we haven't read them as much.

Rattle through a list in your head of some of your favorite books. If you walked out your front door and started talking about them, would everyone you talked to know who that author was or what book you were talking about? Does them not knowing remove the value of the book for you?

I guess my point is that I think Possession was an amazing book, amazing world with memorable characters. If you hadn't written it, midlist or not, our lives would be a little less rich. I hope for more books from you and just because today your life hasn't changed, that doesn't mean that the acclaim that you haven't gotten YET isn't coming someday. Hope. Keep writing. And if the worst thing that comes of it are more 'midlist' books that do reach out and grab the hearts of readers... Is that a failure?

Jackson Pearce and a long list of other authors got together and did a song to the tune of that sunscreen song... Part of the lyrics were “Maybe you’ll be published, maybe you won’t. Maybe you’ll be a bestseller. Maybe your work will be known and loved only by a handful of fanatics that recite it in basements nightly."

(It is under Everybody's Free (to buy a laser printer) on her youtube page if you want to check it out.)

Why am I mentioning her? I am thrilled to gather my kids and wave our battered copy of Possession and say that we are your basement fanatics.

Thank you for this blog though...It makes me feel so much better about feelings I have had about my own writing.

Cassie Mae said...

It's amazing how sometimes we don't know how much we affect other people. But you are an inspiration to me and from reading the other comments, you are an inspiration to many more people.

You're right that we should not expect anything different on the other side of the fence. But we should recognize the impact it does have on our lives.

How did it feel to hold it in your hands for the first time? See it on the shelf? That's where I want to get to. Even if it's just one copy and it never sells.

Your blog and your countless hours you put into helping aspiring authors like myself make you very very important.

Emily said...

What I like about Elana:
She's honest.
She's generous.
She's gracious.
She wrote a book.
She helps lots of people.

Thank you Elana. You are amazing!

Abby Fowers said...

Oh Elana - this makes me want to cry. I can feel the chaos of all things emotional and sometimes those emotional roller-coasters can be overwhelming. All that said - I learned a ton from your book AND I loved reading it. Your book is one of those I can learn from. I am looking forward to the next one!

J.R. Johansson said...

Thank you for such an honest post. I've seen so many of my writer friends go through the same thing. It's impossible to set expectations and no matter what we set, they inevitably end up being wrong. We're all in this with you, and we all understand. We just need a bit more of being truthful with each other so we don't feel so alone. Great post!

Donna K. Weaver said...

Your post is brilliant and honest. Thank you for sharing that. #6 is critical, I think, to how we should be working as writers. Perhaps some people are happy writing things they don't particularly like but are selling right now.

Thank you, Elana.

Angela Brown said...

Hey Elana,
Here's the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth from one of your blog followers.

I didn't buy Possession because of all the hype I heard about it. Or for any awards (though sometimes the books that get awards are ones I sort of tip my head at and wonder). I bought it because it seemed like a really great read and I had the pleasure of getting to know some wonderful blog fragments about the author.

I don't follow your blog because I see you as UNimportant. You ARE important. You are a dreamer who dared to dream and worked hard, against the rejections and the obstacles and have seen your dream come true. I'd say that's pretty darn important. That's what makes us all uniquely important in our own ways.

You've chosen to share your journey and your experience with us. For that, I'm quite thankful for the truths you share in that regards.

So, you're human. And you like bacon. Sending you a couple of virtual packs to fry up and enjoy.
Keep giving us the truth, and you'll keep having a dedicated group of followers.

prerna pickett said...

great post! And you should be proud of all you've accomplished. You're going to go so much further with that mindset.

The Writer said...

First of all, I just wanted to say that I just love you to death. And second: People on the outside think writing is just roses and sunshine and wishful thinking. It's really hard work (as you know), and it's filled with a rollercoaster of emotions (as you know). Us fellow writers are here to ride that coaster with you, and we totally have your back!

Sarah Allen said...

Thank you so much for being so honest. I appreciate it a lot. Don't worry too much, I think what your going through is very relatable. And even if you're not a best-seller or winning buckets of awards, you are still very important to us, and I mean that seriously. I learn and have learned so much from you. So thanks!

Sarah Allen
(my creative writing blog)

Caroline Starr Rose said...

Midlist titles keep publishers going. We're safe risks with (hopefully!) steady sales. It' can't get better than that.

Shannon O'Donnell said...

Oh, Elana, it's this kind of raw honesty that makes you so special to all of us. To me, you are a rock star. Not because you published a book (which I believe is awesome) but because of your warm online presence and support for others and encouragement and honesty and selflessness and . . . I could go on and on.

I don't blame you or judge you at all for feeling that roller coaster of emotions. We ALL feel like that about things at one time or another. It's human nature, and anyone who says they don't experience those emotions is a big fat liar!

Keep writing, my friend. Some books take a while to build a following. Fablehaven didn't take off until after book 2. :-)

Cynthia Lee said...

I think being a mid-list author is great! I mean that. I'm not just saying it to be polite.

I know you already know that, on your best clearest days, but I wanted to say it anyway. :)

David P. King said...

The majority of debut authors don't hit the best seller list. Making the midlist is a good start. I'd be happy with that. Always room for more growth! :)

Talli Roland said...

Elana, I hear you. Oh, do I. I've felt all those things... (and a lot of jealousy, resentment, frustration, although it pains me to admit it). I've also felt a lot of good things, but those fade quickly while the negatives tend to hang on longer.

I'm looking at my career as a long one. As a trajectory, with peaks and troughs. Some books sell, some don't, some hit heights, some don't. No one seems to know why - or why not! All we can do is keep writing what we love. And since you're already doing that... :)

Kerri Cuev said...

I love how you are yourself and put it all out there. You're important to your readers and to all us blog followers. Squash those feelings and blog happy! (((HUGS)))

ps does someone need some chocolate covered bacon?

Krispy said...

Thanks for being so honest, Elana! I thin these are things we all feel and hope for, whatever side of the fence we're on, but your accomplishments - what you HAVE done, that's what's really important.

REINHARDT! said...

Thank you for this. It's great food for thought.

I agree with everyone else--you are NOT unimportant. What you say, both in your books and on this blog, help so many in their own writing journeys. There are plenty of writing blogs out there to read. The readers of this blog come back because you're a kickass person and an inspiration.

Here's to a fruitful hibernation.

Katy Upperman said...

Thanks for this honest and inspirational post, Elana. A reality check for aspiring authors everywhere! :)

Annalise Green said...

Publishing a midlist book is an incredibly difficult and worthy accomplishment. It's also not the be-all end-all of your career. We're looking forward to many more books from you!

jessika fleck said...

i don't think you're foolish for expecting (hoping) for such things! i'm still in the querying stage (stuck here really) and can't help thinking about the soundtrack for when my unpublished, unrepresented book becomes a major motion picture. it's human. but to have such success, i believe, often requires a perfect star alignment and simultaneous solar eclipse! thank you for your honesty (and i'm going to go out and get your book...i'm a fan of a good non-life altering read!).

Heather said...

Of course you're important! You're not only a great author who wrote and excellent book, you're a great person! That goes so much farther, I can't even tell you how much it means. Indeed you haven't changed and that's part of what makes you so amazing.

Perhaps the entire world hasn't caught on to your brilliant book yet but I'm confident they will. Sometimes, these things just take time.

amberargyle said...

I've talked with other authors, and I think we all go through this stage after our first books is published.

I call it the "Reality Hits" stage. I'm still not out of it, but as we've talked about, I don't have as many expectations riding on my shoulders.

That's both a good and bad thing.

Anyway, sad I missed you Friday night. Did you storm keep you away?

Unknown said...

Thanks Elana. Publishing is nothing if not an emotional roller coaster ride. We can't be up or on all the time.

Bidisha said...

Can you hear the virtual applause resonating? :)

No matter what, you've done something to be extremely proud of. Something indelible, that will keep your mark in the world, if not anywhere, then atleast on Goodreads ;)

Jessie Humphries said...

I think your honesty is what makes us all love you so much. I dont know anyone who is so willing to share. You are brave, awesome, and I totally admire you.

Anonymous said...

I love this sort of honest, to the heart post and the beauty of this one is that it makes us all return to the all important question of why we write because in the end that is how we should evaluate the results.

Whenever we have expectations, even if they are only a vague sort of underlying wouldn't-it-be-nice kind of thing, (like being a best seller) we can be disappointed. I published some short stories recently. I didn't expect them to be a bestseller or anything near that, but I did expect that out of my 1000 'friends' over several different social networks that I would sell more copies than I did in the first few weeks. I also thought that out of all the review blog sites that I subscribe to and even post comments on that more of them would be willing to review my work.

I wondered if all my efforts in social networking and marketting were worth it. The result was that I came back to why I wrote and I decided to just write and put more stuff out there and not care whether anyone bought them or not, or even if they like them. That has taken a huge weight of my shoulders.

It's also got me writing some really different stuff, stuff I want to write, but that will be hard to sell because it doesn't fit neatly into a genre. I can only write it because selling it isn't the reason I'm writing it.

I've stripped away my expectations and with that, I can't be disappointed. It sounds like you've come to a similar place.

Shelley Sly said...

So, I don't think I can say anything that hasn't been said more eloquently by others, but please believe me when I say: 1) You ARE important and 2) Your book is truly awesome. I'm about halfway through it now and just loving it. But besides your writing talent, you have also taught me (and many others) so much about the publishing world. Thank you for that. You really are very valuable and talented.

Jemi Fraser said...

You rock, Elana. Seriously. No one says a lot of these things, despite feeling them and being afraid of them. I'm so often scared of so much of this publication journey. Afraid of success. Afraid of failure. Afraid of putting myself out there and whishing I hadn't...

I stumbled across your blog early on in my ventures into the bloggy-verse. I've been drawn to it and to you since then because of your honesty, your kindness, your insights, your incredible energy and joy. You've helped so many of us in so many ways. I hope you do what's best for you and your family and your writing. I'll always admire you (and your work - but you first). :)


Kristen Pelfrey said...

Elana, I love this post. You are an inspiration. You give so much of yourself to support so many. You finished a book and it's published. That amazes and awes me. You are writing truth. Your work is important--you never know how it will touch readers.

GunDiva said...

I was just wondering, the other day, how you managed to juggle everything in your life. You're super busy between family, work and writing. I was struggling to get through NaNo and saw that you were doing NaNo too. I don't know how you do it. But I do know that you're a rock star and I love reading you.

I love your mid-list book and I'm absolutely thrilled that you wrote it for us to read :)

June G said...

Your blog is listed on my side bar. As soon as I saw the title of the post, I knew what you were going to talk about. I'm not published, but I feel your pain. I believe a lot of this is directly connected to the internet and social networks.

Writers are bombarded with all the talk and excitement of the big deals, the big books, big author tours, expensive marketing plans, movie deals...and much of this is for debut authors, for Pete's sake. Who wouldn't lose it under these circumstances.

It's only natural you want to be one of the big players. Who wouldn't. I don't think any of us would turn it down. You don't have to be ashamed of wanting to be in the mix with the big dogs.

And maybe one day, you will. Remember Ally Condie published several books before she broke out with Matched. Laini Taylor published three books before she hooked up with Little, Brown and Daughter of Smoke and Bone became their "big book". She even speaks of how her former publisher didn't go back to Amazon and include the National Book Award Finalist insignia on her prior book or update her profile! And this was before she got her big deal.

Don't feel bad about wanting to be a NYT bestselling author. You have every right to dream and desire that. But remember if it doesn't happen, you no less worthy as a person. It's so important for published and aspiring writers to remember: We're so much more and life consists of so much more than that book deal...Now go forth and write another book!

Lydia Kang said...

Hey Elana,
Thank you so much for being so honest. It means a lot to people because it seems like there is this veil of secrecy after you get published.

I've felt it, and I'm in fear of all those negative emotions too. Knowing I've got an agent and going to be published simply replaced one set of scary emotions with another set of scarier ones.

I hope you remember that you are a huge inspiration to me and countless (well beyond your >2000 followers) other writers. Not only have you published a great book, but you've helped and inspired people. And we all thank you for that.

Peggy Eddleman said...

Aw, but see? That's the thing. Possession could've tanked (but of course it didn't even have a chance of doing that), and you'd still be an amazingly incredible person! Someone who has made a huge difference in a lot of people's lives. You made a huge difference in my life. People sometimes even do a blog post about how much you helped them in their journey (like I may have done today before I even read this). Just sayin'.

Claire Dawn said...


Possesion is midlist??? I didn't even know that. I've already told you that it's my fave book of the year. I seriously love Vi. And I love that it's about Goodies and Baddies. It feels both big and universally, and chldlike.

I don't care who put it on whos list. I love it. And I'm going to keep re-reading it and giving it away. Thanks for writing it.

Christa Desir said...

This is humbling and awesome because it shows that you are still Elana. We don't remember every book that ever won every award. We remember the books we like to read. I wrote AN IMPORTANT BOOK that maybe no one will read. There is no difference. Write for the love of writing. It is the most honest path.

Unknown said...

Thanks for sharing your honest experience with us. I have been reading similar posts from other authors I follow, and appreciate that you all share these things with those of us on the journey so we have an idea of what to expect.

Happy writing. I know it will rock!

Kelly Polark said...

You are important to all of us who visit you. You have given us advice, support, and smiles.

Thanks for your honesty. Another reason why we are so fond of you, Elana!

Robin Reul said...

I think every writer has their moment of silently writing their award speech as they type THE END, but it doesn't matter how many copies you sell, or if it wins awards or skyrockets to the top of the bestseller charts. You wrote a book, dude. That's AMAZING!!! You did something so many people talk about, dream about, but never do, and often go to their graves WISHING they had done. And you've written MORE THAN ONE!!! You wrote a solid story, have entertained people, have written a meaningful blog with helpful advice that has helped pave the road for others so the path is not so twisty-turny and unmarked. You have made yourself accessible and paid it forward to would-be writers by offering your time and your advice. You are a rock star no matter what you write, or even if you never write again. Because you had a dream, and you pursued it, relentlessly, and you made it come true.

Thank you for your honesty. It just made me like and admire you more :)

xo Robin

Shannon Messenger said...

Crud--I missed this yesterday? Too late to add a ((cyber hug))? :)

Shannon said...

Sorry that I missed this post yesterday.

There's something else that you need to add to that list:

"8. I Inspire"

You're open, honest, giving, supporting, and you share your wisdom. Never forget your value. <3

Theresa Milstein said...

Elana, thanks for your honesty.

It's all we can do - write what we want to read. When I read a book that has character, plot, and message in spades, I want to write like that. Someday I will. I hope.

As for you being a midlist author. One word:

Chime. That book impressed me. Big time. And she had other books before that, which were okay. Not great. She got there.

We can't all hit it out of the park, can we? I haven't.

Kimberley Griffith Little is another one. I loved her last 2 books. She published several novels before these, but didn't get much press.

As for jealousy, it's hard not to be jealous sometimes.

It's good for me to know all this, because I need to realize I'll still be me when I get published.

Jill D. said...

You are amazing! Why? Because even though you are special and fantastic and wonderful you humble yourself and say you aren't. Truth is you are and always will be! Keep your head up!

I don't know first hand what your life is like but you have done more then most people. Not only are you a published writer but you are an amazing mother. I know because your two kids are great and that can only come from great parenting! Keep up the good work!

Karen Lange said...

Thanks for being real, Elana. I know I go through ups and downs too, and about the time I think I'm little miss smarty pants writer I get a rejection. And I am smacked back into real life where I need to continue to sharpen my skills and build character.

I think you've accomplished a lot, and I am sure you've learned tons of things along the way. If success is getting a book published that you would like to read - then I want to aim for that kind of success. Thanks for sharing your heart and your journey with us. :)

Christine said...

I think we all have high expectations when getting published. Mine weren't the same as yours because I self-published, but my reasons for writing and getting my story out were because I wanted others to enjoy it. As I'm sure you know, not all who read it will like it, and that's okay. I didn't write it for THEM, I wrote it for ME and for the ones who love it as much as I do.

Remember that it's the journey that makes our lives rich. The people we meet along the way. The friends we make. And the fact that we endured all the hardships and came out the other side with our integrity intact and a product we can be proud of.

For me, the hardest part was finding out who my friends really were. The ones I thought would support me, didn't and people I never felt good enough to befriend, were their for me in a big way. Big lesson for me.

Hang in there, Elana. You're a great author. It's just taking the world a little longer to figure it out . . . but they will.

Laura said...

You write because it's part of who you are. All that other stuff is the side-effects- and not the who-you-really-are part. It's okay to feel it all. It's probably impossible not to. At least you get the part about who YOU are. Love you!

Alice said...

I appreciate your honesty, too. I guess whatever level you're at in your writing can have its joys and frustrations. I was so excited to sell my first article. but now I don't care about selling articles anymore. I'd be delighted to sell a novel at this point, but once I did, I'd probably want more. Your blog and advice has been helpful and encouraging to me as writer. I'm sure publication has its highs and lows. The books that win the most awards aren't even usually the ones I like the most and I sometimes wonder why they are acclaimed more than other novels. I think few authors make it big with their first novels. That's a rare exception. Several authors I know who are now making it big were midlist authors for a while first. And midlist is still a good place to be especially when you're first starting out. But it would be nice to be like those authors who make it big with their first novel, just not very likely.

Unknown said...

Elana, I have such a lump in my throat. You've described me, to a tee. Well, except the having a published novel out. But everything else, all the emotions, I have them. And as I sit in front of my computer every day and read the blog posts of authors DOING so much more than I do, accomplishing stuff. Ugh. I feel foolish and envious. I ride a pendulum that swings back and forth between redeeming delirium that I'm WRITING, honing my craft, loving every moment of it ---- and abject misery that I let days -- weeks! -- go by without opening my WiP, that I'm a fraud for hosting a writer's blog, that I'm just a pathetic hack. Wow. Wasn't prepared to say all that. But my point is this: maybe this is how we all feel? Thanks for making me feel a little less alone. You rock, sister. You did before Possession dropped, and you do now. In all your humanity. Write on. ((hugs))

Christy said...

I just really appreciate your raw and honest post. I think we all have to take stock of where we are. When we are unpublished we think that somehow a cloak of amazingness will fall on us when we are finally published. And we always hope for bestseller status. It's good to step back and think about why we enjoy writing and also to realize that even if we our books are not on the bestseller list that doesn't mean we don't have a positive affect on those in our sphere. It helps me to remember that God knows that we are of infinite worth--no matter what we do or don't do.
For the record, I very much enjoyed your book and have been passing it around and recommending it to others. Even if we can affect one person's life for good, isn't that worth it? Keep up the writing and teaching.

Lindsay said...

Thank you for such a wonderful post. I think we all have moments when we feel those things at whatever stage of the writing journey we're on. But...

You're awesome & Possession is awesome. You'll never be simply Midlist to us :D

Mel Chesley said...

Well, Elana, I'm going to skip past all the other comments and add my two cents.
First of all, I don't think you are the first author to feel this way.
We all have a tiny hope that when our book gets published, we're going to become an overnight sensation. That we're going to HAVE to change to deal with our little piece of heavenly change: Fame.

But sometimes it doesn't happen. Sometimes someone else gets all the hype and we sit here wondering what did they do differently?? How come their book has gotten more publicity/exposure/insert-whatever-here than mine?

Everyone writes to become a little 'famous'. We'd be lying to ourselves and our readers if we said, "I only write because I love it and have a story to share". Every human being out there looks for ways to become a cut above the norm. Ways to be immortalized. It is a basic human urge.

I, for one, appreciate the fact that you have written a book, that you blog about your experiences and have shared with us your critiquing skills and querying do's and don't's. I have yet to read "Possession" (its in my TBR pile...) but I have read your book "From the Query to the Call". Even your blog has helped and inspired me. I may not comment as much as I used to, but you are still an influence in my writing career and someone I look up to. I'm sure that everyone who reads your blog and comments feels the same way: You've become an important fixture to us. Don't forget that. Your posts on this blog and on others are IMPORTANT to us.

I'm sure you will still have these feelings, but like you said, you'll have these comments to look back on when you start to feel this way again. You matter to us whether you are a best seller or mid seller. Some of us are no sellers at all and we still keep trying because of people like you. :D

Botanist said...

I am moved by the honesty of this post, Elana. I'm also glad that you found some uplifting truths in there too.

I am not published, but I can relate to so much of what you said. I keep reminding myself of my slimline version of #5 - I wrote a novel! That is an achievement to cling to!

And I love #6. Every time I read a chapter of my book that I haven't seen for a while, I enjoy it anew. That must count for something, and I'm so glad you wrote something you enjoy, and that you enjoyed writing it.

Anonymous said...

I'd never have wanted you to do anything different. Write what you like. Be who you like. Because that's who I like--Elana. Every time.

Seriously, I can't think of a time I've seen you where I haven't walked away thinking, "I just like her." And I don't "like" people. Sure, you can be friendly, think well of them, get on okay with many of them. But liking them--liking them enough to want to be around them? That's different.

You're different. And I like that. said...

Really...who does not love your humor, wicked insight and honesty!!!

And as I am reading a writing this today...I already know that you feel better!!!

Corey Schwartz said...

Oh, Elana, i can so totally relate. When Hop! Plop! came out in 2006, I thought it was going to be the next If You Give a Mouse a Cookie. Meanwhile, I can't even get people to buy it at the bargain hardcover price of $6.38! But you know what... I am still ocnvinced that it is special. it is funny and sweet. At 300 words it is hard to tell a story with a beginning, a middle, an end, and an underlying non-preachy message. But I did it! And kids usually laugh. And adults even sometimes tear up a bit. And I am proud of it.

And I am sure that when NINJA PIGS hits the NY Times Bestseller List, Hop Plop sales will take off. ha, ha, ha, ha. A person can dream, right?

Matthew MacNish said...

Amen, Elana! And you are important, at least to some of us.

I think there's so much wisdom in this post. We don't have to be writing bestsellers or award winners for our stories to be worth telling.

You've taught me so much. I'm proud to call you a friend.

Jessica Nelson said...

Oh girl, I worry about the same things with my book. The truth is, my book is firstly entertainment. I wrote what I like to read too. There are truths in it, yes, but I doubt any of my books will ever be nominated for awards.
There is nothing wrong with midlist. It's the backbone of publishing, imo. *hugs*

Unknown said...

You, my dear, are naive, no you are wrong. And I want to hug you then serve you every bacon filled goodie I can think of.

1. Is your book important? Um, that's not for you to decide. Ask your readers, ask that kid that may read something in it that changes them. Ask that aspiring author who has follwed you and has been inspired by you. Ask the teacher who finally gets a kid interested in reading because your characters were cool and so was the cover. Ask your commenters here. Ask yourself how important this novel IS to you. One more time. Ask YOURSELF how important Possession is to you? My first novel, besides my daughter, is one of the most important things I have ever created. Books impact people, period. Your book has impacted people and you cannot say otherwise. You. Just. Can't.

2. Awards and lists mean nothing. Go back to my number one. What matters are the people who read your words and are inspired by your characters.

3. You are an important author. You are an inspiration to many aspiring writers. Also, go back to my number one. You are important to the people who chose to buy your novel and immerse themselves in your world.

4. I am glad you wrote a book you like to read. Again, go back to my number one. You also wrote a book that other people wanted and will want to read.

5. You wrote a book because you like to write. Well, I'd hate to see the novel you write when you don't like writing, lol. Once again, back to my number one. Other people are very glad you like to write and that most important person is you, btw.

6. You are still the same person. Good. I'd hate for some body snatcher to have taken over your body. They may not like bacon. One last time, go back to my number one. Those people are glad you are who you are still because they will want to read Elana Johnson's next novel. They will want to read Elana Johnson's tales of the 2nd book on this blog. And most of all, Elana Johnson herself, likes to write. A changed Elana may not have had the same joy.

Now, you are ordered to eat two BLT's and call me in the morning if any more of these symptoms continue.

Praise the Pig, for he gives us the bacon. Amen.

Mart Ramirez said...

Elana, sending you a great big hug. You're so awesome for being honest.

Just because your debut hasn't won awards (yet) doesn't mean it didn't win a trophy in a reader's heart.

Trust me, if it wasn't that good, you wouldn't have an agent or a publisher :)

I know, it's so hard being a writer and we have so many hopes and dreams but doesn't mean they won;t happen. It's still early for you.

You're are an amazing person and you are not giving yourself enough credit.

Hang in there--trust me--sooner than later your work will win awards. I just know it. You're too good for it not to.

{{{{HUgs and love,
Martha Ramirez

Stacy Henrie said...

I know I'm a little late to the party :), but I wanted to tell you how proud I am of you, Elana. Not only for all that you've accomplished, but your honesty about the journey. Your observations and advice are priceless, so keep sharing!

Jenny S. Morris said...

You are by far one of the most inspiring authors to me. Your blog was one of the first things that made me feel connected to the writing community. Your book made me love bad boys again. AND you as a person are by far one of the nicest people out in the blogosphere.

This is your first book. Keep writing what you love. And being who you are. WE LOVE YOU!

Donea Lee said...

I'm a little late with this (been hiding from the Internet as well, lately...)but, in my humble opinion, you are a HUGE success who has done a TON for the writing community. I think I've mentioned this before, but over a year ago when I attended my first LUW conference, I saw you at the registration tables and having absolutely NO idea who you were at the time (just thought you were a fellow conference goer, like me), thought to myself, "Now, that's someone who seems like a lot of fun. I should introduce myself."

I didn't. I later took your "Writing the Killer Query" class, which I loved. Again, thinking - I should go talk to her. I didn't. My shyness gets the best of me, sometimes - and I've always felt it was a missed opportunity.

Anyhow - I guess what I'm getting at is that you simply EXUDE awesomeness! And writing what you love to read is what it's all about. You go, girl! :)

Nichole Giles said...

You're awesome! Publishing hasn't changed who I've always known you to be. And Elana, despite what you said up there, you do have an important message. You share it with the world just by being who you are. And THAT is something to be proud of.

Plus, you wrote an awesomesauce book that I like to read. Those are the books that change my world.

On top of that, I'm so proud to call you my friend. Thanks for being you.

Carolina M. Valdez Schneider said...

Very brave, very honest. So few authors own up to such deep, difficult thoughts and hard-hitting insecurities. We all have them, of course. Or maybe some of us more than most (those of use who are most honest with ourselves anyway).

I think it's perfectly normal to feel as you feel. I'm not one to give much advice in this department, though. Just know that while I don't understand what it's like to be on that other side of the fence, I do know what it is to feel vulnerable, and it seems to me that might be where you've been. I think by stepping out and saying, "Hey, have a look at me," by "exposing" yourself in that way, you actually can make yourself stronger and less vulnerable. Sort of like removing the veil you use to hide yourself so that you no longer have to hide. If that makes sense.

But I don't think you have anything to be ashamed of. Like you said, you wrote a book you wanted to read--that a lot of people wanted to read and enjoyed. This seems to me the purest, and most perfect reason to write a story.

Also? You're not done writing stories. Keep doing as you are, writing for the pleasure of it, for the peace it brings to your writer's soul, and in the end, you will have built a body of work that brought you (and many others) JOY. Awards? Pshaw. Those don't define us. But Joy? Oh yeah.

Kell Andrews said...

Thanks for this. Right now I'm pursuing small presses, and it's nice to know that my brothers and sisters in Big Six hardcover section aren't living the glamorous life either.

Celesta said...

Elana, you have been, and continue to be, an inspiration to published and unpublished writers. You give so much of your time and talents to mentor writers everywhere and you've accomplished what so many unpublished authors dream of doing. So POSSESSION hasn't won awards, that doesn't mean readers haven't put it at the top of their "this-book-is-awesome", "must-read-again" and "recommend-to-everyone" lists.

Thank you for being honest about your experiences and the emotional hurdles. It's so easy to think "everything will be perfect when...", without realizing it will never be perfect. Our reason for writing must bring us joy without external, out-of-our control accolades determining whether or not we are happy. But that is easy to say and difficult to implement. I'm glad you gave me fair warning that I need to work on that for myself right now.

I met you when you sat on a panel of new authors at Rick Walton's Survey of Publishing class. I was impressed then with your willingness to share your experiences and the lessons you'd learned about writing and the road to publication. I have followed your blog ever since and you have helped me in my own journey as a writer.

You've accomplished amazing things with your writing and will continue to do so.

Thanks...and *hugs*

ali cross said...

Wow Elana. All I have to say is HELL YES to #'s 5 & 6.

That is all.

Danyelle Ferguson said...

Elana - I absolutely love how you put into words some of the feelings I've had since my own book was released. I've learned that "important" doesn't mean "I'm on the NYT best-seller's list!" Important is who you are to your family and friends. It's all about the lives you touch and the awesome relationships you make.

And you, my friend, are important to me. Love you!

Now, go have an awesome day!

Jaime Theler said...


That is all. :)

erica and christy said...

Are you kidding me?!? YOU are SO IMPORTANT to SO many people! You have influenced so many with WOC and all of the help you offer writers via your blog and the advice and information you share on querying. YOU have helped me lots and to me you are a super star! (I'm unpublished and unagented and I still totally have dreams of getting a big publishing deal and writing THE novel. You can too. You have lots of stories left to write!--Of course, for me, just getting a partial request from an agent would be AWESOME right now...!) Thanks for your honesty. You are not alone! christy

Kristi Cook said...

I'm late to the party, but just wanted to say Dude, I am SO. RIGHT. THERE. WITH. YOU.
Especially at this time of year, when so many "best of" lists come out, and when it seems like every author and their long lost brother has either a movie or TV option. And yep, I'm not even sure I can claim "midlist." I might be "bottom o'the list." It's tough. We struggle along. And we realize that we write our stories because we *like* our stories, and you know what?? That works for me. If other people like them? That's just icing on the cake. Anyway, just wanted to toss in my support and empathy.

Julie Musil said...

Aaaaaand, this is why we love you. Your honesty and humility. But get this... When I went to the library last week with my son, we requested your book. And you know what? It was checked out. So someone out there is enjoying your work, and that is MAJOR!

Nancy Sima said...

You had me at "truth", just added you to my follow list. Looking forward to exploring your blog :-)

Kimberly Sabatini said...

I love you. (((hugs)))

Angela Ackerman said...

Elana you're human just like the rest of us. :) Don't cut yourself down for hoping for the best--this is what we all do. And Midlist is only a word, a word that doesn't matter to the girl who reads your book and becomes driven to read more because of it. It doesn't matter to the countless people who have fallen deeply and madly in love with your world and characters. It certainly doesn't matter to me, a person who greatly admires you for always staying true to yourself, and for having the courage to be honest every step of the way, even when it hurts. We all love you! :)


Stacy said...

What a beautiful and heartfelt post. Thank you for being so honest, and you should be proud. Writing a book is an accomplishment in itself, and to have it published in hardcover and sell at all is something many will be envious of.


Becca Puglisi said...

Thank you so much for your transparency. Sharing your experiences helps us un-pubbed authors have a more realistic view of 'the other side'. I'm already chewing over some of the things you've said, and I'm sure your honesty will help other authors sidestep a few of these land mines when their time comes.

Becca @ The Bookshelf Muse

Sherrie Petersen said...

Great post, Elana. I think we all struggle with our importance in whatever world we're a part of. But you have made a difference in the lives of a lot of people and that counts for a whole lot.

Margo Kelly said...

Ah ... but you are IMPORTANT. Very.


Sometimes the adversary works hard to make us think and feel otherwise, but recognize it for what it is, and DISAGREE.

You are important.

Tina Lynn said...

I heart you <3

Denise Jaden said...

Great post, Elana, and you're SOOOOO not alone! The one thing I'm starting to feel is that book 2 is a lot better in this regard. I feel like I have a lot more perspective going into it. There are a lot of freakin books out there, but, yay, mine is one (almost two) of them!

Kimberley Griffiths Little said...

Aaah, darling Elana, I've actually had this post on my computer Tabs for two months, wanting to post a comment. I have no words of wisdom or cute or witty things to say, except - I know exactly how you feel. I have felt every single one of those things the last 18 months. On a daily basis. And it's a hard thing to realize that I'm mid-list. Or even LOW mid-list. It's also so hard NOT to compare myself to other writer's on a daily basis. But we do have to remember that we are of worth. We have value. And we have touched other people's lives. You have touched mine in so many good and wonderful ways, and countless others.

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