Friday, February 14, 2014

Friday Fricassee

No, this is NOT an "I'm giving up" post.  Absolutely not.

But I want to share an odd phenomenon, in the hope that perhaps it strikes a chord with you. Which will then offer me one of those okay-I'm-not-alone moments.  (This is for those of you who have been pursuing publication for years.  Not months--years.)

There seems to be a point--and I'm not quite sure when I reached it, exactly--at which the Dream doesn't feel real anymore.  It's this sense of having wanting something for so long, having worked toward it and believed in it and imagined what it would be like when I finally got there for so many years, that it no longer feels like something tangible.

As though I've lost my ability to dream.

It doesn't mean I've stopped working--I haven't.  It doesn't mean my goals have changed, or my tenacity has withered, or my emotional state has disintegrated.  None of the above (thank goodness).  But it does mean that I feel blank.

There's no other way to put it.  I am as passionate as ever about my stories and my work and my desire to be published.  I am as serious as ever in my pursuit of writing as a professional career.  In that sense, nothing has changed.

But something inside my heart has died (or perhaps has merely passed out).  And I'm not sure how to resurrect (or revive) it.

I think the key, of course, is to push through seasons like this.  Otherwise, success will never come.  So, yes, I'm pushing through.  But the blankness is disconcerting, to say the least.

On the positive side, it helps me to stay in a low-angst place with submissions.  Honestly, I am thrilled to be on sub with my newest project, and as thankful as I've always been for my agent (and his delightful assistant).  But the stomach-dropping excitement, the lip-biting, the scribbled list of editors on my bulletin board so I can look at the names at a glance--it isn't happening.  It's just business as usual.  And that's not all bad.

Still, it bothers me that I can't visualize my dream any more.  I used to imagine what my release party would look like (I even spoke to a jazz-singing friend a couple years ago and asked her if she'd sing); I used to plan which bookstores I could hit in the Northeast, where my parents live; I used to dream of having lunch with Josh and my Sparkly New Editor.  Sometimes these thoughts still filter through my head, but it isn't the same as it used to be.  It's as though a fog rises up in my brain, obscuring the visions of Published Me.  What once felt like a real possibility now feels like...well, nothing.


There you have it.  I think I've maxed out on transparency and vulnerability this week.  So please join me!  Do any of you long-timers feel this way?  Does your dream feel more like an illusion?  Maybe if we remind each other that all things are possible, we can dispel the fog and move onward.

Hoping to hear from you today!


  1. I've been writing for ten years, queried four manuscripts (of the eight I've written), and yes, I know EXACTLY how you feel. I still do fantasize that one day I'll get an agent and a publishing deal, but it's not with the same excitement that it used to be. I agree - maybe that's a good thing. The disappointments aren't as overwhelming as they used to be. But sometimes I think, if it ever does happen, will I be as excited as I would have been four or five years ago? I'm not sure. I still hope I get the chance to find out though!

  2. It's a weird place to be when you've been writing and working towards publication for years and haven't quite gotten there yet. For me, it's been a weird shifting of dreams. Like you I imagined all the trappings of being traditionally published and the grandeur of book releases and tours and such. Then I published with a small press and the whole process has more of a slow burn with the occasional fizzle where I almost feel like I'm not a published author. It's made me have to shift my dream to something more tangible and realistic. Instead of lunches with agents and editors and NY Times best-selling books, it's keeping a writing schedule, being productive, seeking to publish more, working hard to market and reach more readers. In some ways this new vision is disappointing, but in others ways it's empowering because it's much more in my control than the more pie-in-the-sky dreams I used to have.

  3. I can totally relate to this. I've been writing for a long, long time (10+ years) and the dream still mostly feels like a dream even though my first book from a small pub is coming out shortly (maybe this will be the kickstart I need). But, I'm not giving up because after all, what am I going to do? Quit writing?

    I think not.

  4. Thank you for sharing your vulnerability with us. Power to you!

  5. I have been there with being excited or even able to visualize actually publishing for a long time. The blankness I feel right now is with the writing itself. I want to thank you for the First Two round, which actually got me out of a very bad place in the past month or so, where I acutely hated my WIP. So much I couldn't even open the file. The critique opportunity got the file open. I too have been writing all my life, submitting for what seems like all my life. I have gotten and in various ways lost four agents. With this latest WIP I've had R&Rs from three agents, one exclusive. And yet nothing. I was grateful for the feedback here. And I think I see what is different about my writing from what agents jump on, editors drool over and people buy. Sadly, I'm not sure I can totally change it. But maybe this awareness will help some. Again thank you and I hope you, and I, stumble out of the mist soon, into sunnier days.

  6. This is exactly where I was while I was querying my fourth manuscript. I really thought my third would be the One. It had, like, a 75% request rate and garnered four independent R&Rs within a two-week span. I figured this was it.

    I put my heart and soul into that revision, giving the manuscript a new main character and drafting dozens of new scenes. But by the time I finished, things had changed. Those four R&Rs turned into four rejections pretty quickly, and even though I thought the manuscript as a whole was a lot stronger now, my request rate plummeted to 25%. In the three months it had taken me to revise, the market had fallen out from under me. My manuscript wasn't strictly dystopian, but it smelled like a dystopian, so agents took one look and ran the other way.

    It didn't gut me so much as left me feeling, like you said, blank. I felt like my industry barometer was completely off. I couldn't tell what was good and what was bad, and I didn't have any interest in trying to figure it out. Luckily, I was almost finished with my next project, so it didn't affect my writing, but I sent out those first queries with a bemused detachment. Sure, I thought this new project was pretty good, but what did I know? I'd obviously been wrong in the past.

    Good luck, Authoress. I really do believe that luck favors perseverance (and once you reach a certain level of technical proficiency, it all comes down to luck).

  7. I've been feeling exactly this way the past year or so. I'm not sure when it happened, but for me it was the failed subs that did it. After all the build up to getting an agent, and believing it was all going to finally happen, my dream felt like it slowly fizzled away. I like to think it's a blessing in disguise, because who can go through so many sub rounds being as crazy nervous as the first one without having a breakdown:) I do miss that feeling though for sure.

  8. I totally know what you're saying. I think it's like falling in love. To begin with the whole writing/querying/publishing journey is new and exciting and you can't wait to get to the next step. But over time, the process becomes like a job and one you're comfortable with. The highs don't feel so high, and the lows don't feel so low. It's just something you keep doing because it's your life.

    A little like the difference in a relationship when you're in the heady first throes of a romance, vs. having been married for 10 years.

  9. Book 1: got an agent after over 120 rejections. Agent asked for major rewrite, couldn't sell the result. Parted ways and the book was self-published.

    Book 2: MG currently at 67 rejections. One full request and rejection. Still submitting.

    Book 3: YA currently at 36 rejections, no full requests to date. Still submitting.

    Most difficult tasks will reach a point where the "dream" or enthusiasm isn't really there. That's when persistence and will take over, and you keep plugging even though it isn't all that much fun any more.

    Being an adult means that even when the last thing you feel like doing is your job, you buckle down and do it anyway. The goals haven't changed just because the mood has. That goes for writing, and many, many other things in life.

    One step after the other, head down, slowly plodding along. It's not enjoyable, and sometimes it even hurts, but in time it can cover the same ground as skipping happily along does.

  10. Here's a short version: You can't lose the game if you never stop playing.

  11. Sometimes pushing through isn't the right way to go. After writing for almost ten years, I gave up for awhile. I knew it wasn't forever, but it was certainly until I could find my heart again. It took about six months. Best thing I ever did.

    I think, for me anyway, the pressure I was putting on myself, the hope and the want and everything else that goes along with pursuing publication just made something inside me snap. I understand the blankness you're talking about because that's what was left. Taking a break - I didn't write, I didn't blog, I didn't do anything but throw my whole self back into my family and all the other parts of my life - was the only thing that worked.

    Not saying it will work for everyone. But I often come back to that old question, "What would you do if you weren't afraid?" The answer is always the right one.

  12. Yes, yes, yesssss! It's that feeling that, though I'm still somewhat optimistic toward my dream of being published, it's tinged with something I wouldn't exactly call bitterness, but more REALITY.
    Occasionally I read about "newby" writers that have just signed w/ agents and I can feel their excitement bubbling over in their blogs. That "very soon my books will be in print" feeling. And I think to myself, "Oh, you poor, naïve thing." Then I feel bad, because honestly, that kind of exuberance and hope is terrific. My own experiences have slowly sucked up most of those feelings. But thankfully, they've also cemented a TRUE desire in me to keep writing, keep creating.

  13. I have been feeling the same way. I now regard queries and submissions as "sunk" effort - meaning I don't even think about them after they're sent.

    After querying two historical MS (did get agent for one but parted ways), I wrote something much more commercial. This hasn't been the quick sale I hoped for, though, to echo what others said above.

    So I keep plugging away. I have been published recently through another avenue--as a writer for a book club series. I'm going to keep trying various avenues as long as the ideas keep coming.

  14. "But the stomach-dropping excitement, the lip-biting, "

    THIS x1000. Girl, i totally feel you. A few weeks ago i got 7 offers of rep after only a month of querying my third MS (queried, not written). 7. And i was like "okay."

    I thought there would be all this excitement and stuff. And there was some, but like you, i'd reached the point where the highs just weren't so high anymore because i'd been doing it so long.

    It's a little sad, but you're right in that the lows aren't as low either. Things just kind of even out.

    FWIW, i know you'll get there

  15. Theater folk, musicians, painters all arrive at this place at some point. For artists the process has to be the goal. My writing improved when I gave up trying to win an agent's approval and wrote for solely for myself. I could never figure out what they wanted anyway.

  16. Write the stories that come from your heart. Publication is a great goal and perhaps justification for the time spent on it. But, write the stories you want to write when you want to write them. Do your part, submit, read, write, query. I like to believe that the universe will connect when the time is right. Many great artists were never great in their lifetimes (probably not a motivating comment, but true), but their work was timeless. re: Bach for example.

    Keep the faith.

  17. Authoress, you are not alone. I know I've come a long way--from poetry writing classes in college to short stories to finishing whole novels. I'm not angry about rejections. I reject multiple things all day every day, too. My dream still drives me, but it feels like delusion. Except if I were truly delusional, wouldn't I be giddy about it?

    Okay. Back to revising the query. Happy Valentine's Day!

  18. Blank is a defense mechanism. Like a child who grows up around screaming and can attend boot camp with a bored expression even as a 300lb drill sergant threatens to whip his @$$. Blank is your way of not allowing feelings through because you've been dissapointed by those feelings and hopes in the past.

    This is a valley, there will be more hills and moutains, but when in the valley, lower your expectations. You knew this was a long journey. You knew the risks involved. We've all heard the stories of people who didn't sell until their seventh book or the college student who sold her first book within months.

    Now is the time to acknowledge the pitty party, take a deep breath, and keep on trudging through. You have talent. Your writing, whether published or not, has an affect on your fans. Us. Those that read your words, learn from you, and take comfort that your on this journey with us. I pray you are published some day soon so you can reach that initial dream. But keep dreaming. New dreams. New goals. New purpose. You make a difference, even when you feel like you've only left a blank.

  19. wow, you're not your. Opps. That was just the first draft

  20. I wrote a novel in college and my professor was so optimistic about it. Revise it, he told me, and come back to me. I spent several long months with those revisions, only to find in the end that my professor was ill, too ill, and wouldn't be able to help me. I told myself this was okay, that I could do it on my own. I bought books, did my research, and queried. Nothing but rejections came my way.

    I stopped writing, stopped thinking about my dream because it hurt too much to think it wouldn't happen. I went years without writing a word.

    Then, two years ago I decided I needed to write again, just for myself. I was living alone and had no responsibilities outside of work, so every evening I spent at least an hour writing. After I finished my first draft, I revised. My dream reemerged. I did more research. I found blogs like yours and a writing community on Twitter. I started querying, so hopeful. The first agent I queried asked for a partial. Then, nothing from her again. Months of rejections from other agents. I kept querying but couldn't help wondering what was the point. I'd never been lucky and though I knew my writing was good, I knew it wasn't good enough. I kept sending those queries, but it got to the point where even rejections didn't affect me. I reached that blank you wrote about. I gave up again.

    But I have this dream that won't go away. I have another manuscript that I'm polishing. Even in the dark moments, I know I have to keep going. I have to believe that my dream's fulfillment is possible. I have to keep hoping.

    I hope, Authoress, that you keep hoping, too. You've helped so many of us that I cannot imagine you'll never acheive your dream. We'll all celebrate with you when it finally happens.

  21. I've been at this a long time, too, and I know exactly how you feel. While you may not give up, I think the newbie enthusiasm and optimism fades some. I *finally* got a book deal last year with a small publisher and then they went out of business. That really shot me down. I just signed a contract for the same book with another small publisher. I'm very excited, but not the way I may have been several years ago. It's weird. I think after all the marketing research etc. I've done, I'm thinking more of the business end. I think I'll be more excited once the book is published. Authoress, I think you still have the dream in your heart and in your stories, but maybe with a more "mature" outlook vs. the "newbie" wide-eyed hopefulness! You will get there!!

  22. I can definitely relate. I've been writing seriously for 10 years and "blank" describes how I feel. I don't know if I'm resigned to the dream not happening or realistic that the dream is not a reflection of reality (I know too many writers who published, had low sales, and can't get another contract). But I'm not writing for the giddy high. I'm writing because I write.

  23. I have to admit, I never got to the point of imagining my launch party beyond "one day I'll have one I guess" perhaps its the realist lurking within the artist. Having said that, I too have had those moments.

    For a while I put it down to "not enough time/energy to spend on my writing" so I quit my (well paying) job back in Sept 2012 and have been working full-time on my writing ever since.

    And while there have been minor moments of WOOHOO, I am yet to have the OMG, WTF, it happened, it really *confetti bomb* happened.

    I posted a photo on Twitter yesterday, it was to my Valentine. It was a sketch of a heart.

    Inside the heart I wrote:
    Writing from the heart is my 1st true love

    and beneath it I wrote:
    Imagination never leave me.

    That sums it up for me :)

  24. Authoress, I feel so bad reading your post, knowing how much effort you have put into your writing and how much you have given back to the aspiring writer community! I have benefitted so much from your blog and contests. So thank you. I want to see you succeed and hate to see you lose sight of your dream. :(

    I know this blog is all about preparing a writer for the whole submission to agents process, following in the path of traditional publishing. I know you aren't really all that positive about self-publishing, but you have a big platform and would have a great chance to see success with your books if you chose to go down that route. It might feel like giving in, settling for less, but it depends on what your goals are. If you want your books to be as big as Divergent, that's a great dream but as you know, it's pretty unlikely for all but the very very few books. Only a few ever make it that big. Most writers, even those who get agents and book deals, do not earn back their advances and fall into midlist obscurity. You already know this so I'm not telling you anything you don't already know.

    Publishing is in such turmoil right now because of changes in the industry led by the development of electronic books, online bookstores and retailers like Amazon. While the vanity publishing business of a decade ago is pretty discredited for preying on hopeful authors, charging them lots of money only to see their books languish without sales, self-publishing today is a different world. Many writers have proven themselves as authors, developing an audience, and then moving on to be hybrid authors, getting deals for print books with traditional publishers -- or going entirely with a traditional publisher once they have established themselves and shown they can sell. Think of Hugh Howey, JA Konrath and HM Ward.

    They are outliers, true, but so are Suzanne Collins, Veronica Roth and Cassandra Clare. You might be a huge success in self-publishing or you might find a smaller audience than that for Divergent and the Hunger Games, but keep in mind the audience for those books is huge. Why not see if you can get a part of that audience on your own? 

    I'm sure your books are great -- in fact, given all your experience, I expect that they are more than great -- but the truth is that editors and agents don't always know what books will do well and don't want to take risks, especially in this volatile environment. That lack of risk taking might mean your great books will go nowhere, despite being more than good enough to find an audience.

You and your readers should read a recent report by hybrid author Hugh Howey about author earnings -- it has some very interesting info on earnings for self vs traditionally published authors.

    Your work is clearly good enough to garner you a top agent, and probably has an audience if you did self-publish. Don't reject self-publishing without considering the recent data that shows self-publishing can be a means of earning a living with your writing, interacting with your readers and developing your audience.

    Anyway, thanks for everything you do and best of luck with your book on submission.

  25. I've been writing off and on since I was eight. I've been seriously pursuing publishing since 2004 so ten years for me. In that time I've had books pubbed with small presses and self-pubbed on Kindle/Nook. I'm still trying to get that elusive agent and I always think, "this book is the one." I think that with my current book! For me, the excitement of writing hasn't dimmed and I still dream of going on that bus tour with Cassandra Clare (hee hee) or having a book signing at my local Barnes and Noble in Los Angeles where all the celebrities sign their books. Of getting my book optioned for a movie/TV series of becoming BFF's with JK and chatting about how hard writing is (dream big, right?) or having my fave authors be my CP's...yeah, the excitement is still there for me but I can totally understand your numbness. For me, it's all about passion. What's yours? If you find your passion, you'll find your dreams again. At least that's what it was for me. Hang in there!

  26. Authoress, I feel for you. After reading everyone's comments I agree with a lot of them. I thought comparing the writing dream to infatuation/mature love was great. I also think taking a break from writing, some time to breathe, rejuvenate is a great idea. Then, you'll come back with energy and enthusiasm again. I know this has worked for me. You have many people here who love you, believe in you and are rooting for you! Take a break. The fog will fade. Maybe try something different from before. You will believe in yourself again, but this time it will be a more mature belief, which is not a bad thing. It's a good thing. You will persevere.

  27. Totally hear where you're coming from. I'm feeling a bit blank as well with just submitting queries and marking them off and when the news comes back marking that off. But we have to keep going. Like you said maybe it's not bad to treat it as business as usual and that excitement will eek it's way out again once something more finalized comes into play. Just keep writing!

  28. No, no, no!
    Blame it on the full moon, blame it on too much chocolate, blame it on . . . whatever.
    Just don't give up.
    Never surrender.

  29. Oh, my, Authoress, you've touched a few raw nerves today. Your path and mine seem to bump edges every now and then, and this is one of our little deviations.

    It's what I've decided is 'past the Cinderella-magical-discovery-stage' of writing, and is into the 'hard-yakka(work), realistic, just 'keep plodding on' stage of being an author.

    Never give up (but of course, you won't, you love what you do). Never lose heart, just lose yourself in your storymaking. That's what matters in the end - the story.

    And don't forget what a difference you've made to the writing lives of many others - your altruism shines through.

    All the very best from Down Under.
    Sheryl :)

  30. I know how you feel. I've also pursued it for years, and the pursuing itself feels like part of your identity. But complacency is the devil! Take no prisoners. We are writers meant for publication. And it shall happen.

  31. I get what you're going through--I'm in the years club, too--but I think there's a really good bit about it. I mean, I'd rather be in that blankness than obsessing about publication all the time like a coke-addict, or suffering that soul-crushing pain everytime rejection rolls around. The obsession stage really bothers me. When I--can't--think--of--anything--but--publishing, and fantasizing about it becomes almost like some sick "porn" thing, if you know what I mean (hopefully you don't).

    That's waaaaay too much.

    That's what drives writers crazy.

    Your psyche's deployed a defense mechanism, and that's good. I hate it when it feels like it's going on forever, though, in that blankness. Like business-as-usual, in the sense that this is almost your job. Like ten years from now, I'll be in the same place, still sub'ing, still going, and this limbo is an eternal state through which I'll just keep trudging like Sisyphis with his giant rock.

    That is lame.

    It's all back to that Langston Hughes poem: What happens to a dream deferred?

    Just don't let it wither like a raisin in the sun (which can happen in the blankness), or explode (which can happen in the obsession), and you'll be okay!

  32. I feel your pain, Authoress, or rather you blankness. My dream of publishing feels like an imaginary friend- really nice to have, but sadly not real.

  33. Oy, I feel you. I poured my heart into my book (as we all do) and devoured everything I could on the craft of writing. I queried for a year with no results, until a kind agent said she loved the concept, but it needed work. She proceeded to share three pages of notes! Her feedback resonated, and I did a major revision. The next round of querying went much better, and I received dozens of requests. I entered contests and won. Momentum was building. Then I received offers from agents! Choosing was brutal, but I picked one who has such an amazing track record I was "sure" to be published.

    You can tell what's coming, right? Over the course of a year, the book of my heart died a slow death. Lots of editors had lovely things to say, and we even went to acquisitions a few times, but no dice. That was six months ago and I can still barely talk about it.

    I'm working on another novel, but I have to be honest that I feel sucker punched knowing how brutally heartbreaking this business can be if you believe in your book so strongly. And that's the catch. You HAVE to believe it in, or the words don't come out right. I'm trying to trust in the process, but I can't help feeling a bit like a girl who has been dumped.

    Word to all the people who are letting yourselves be vulnerable and open. Keep on swimming! :-)

  34. I'm just now coming out of a blank state. First I was dejected. Then blank. Over 100 rejections on a story I was querying, 3 rewrites. But some new projects have given me a little bit hope back. It'll still probably be awhile before I can talk myself into trying again though. It always helps me to put my focus on another project.

  35. Thank you, Miss Snark, for writing down (better than I ever could) exactly what I'm feeling. I too, have been writing for a long time, and have even won a couple of awards, but getting an agent seems to be something reserved for "other people," other extraordinary, talented, lucky, beautiful 20-year-olds who were writing books while they were still in their mother's womb.

    If it's any consolation, I just read that Erin Morgenstern of NIGHT CIRCUS went through many rejections before she found an agent (who asked for major revisions).

    Garth Stein of THE ART OF RACING IN THE RAIN suffered many, many rejections before he found an agent.

    Writing is kind of like having children: there's so much excitement when you produce a baby. Then the realities of parenting hit you and the magic wears off. Till the next pregnancy.

    Hang in there, all of you beautiful writers who say what you mean and mean what you say! Rejection is all part of paring away the non-essential in ourselves and discovering greater inner resources.

  36. When I feel bogged like that, I start asking questions, following my curiosity. Or I 'refill the well' doing something like drawing or walking.
    If I follow the questions and answers I experience a sort of synchronicity, where I'll be thinking about something and I'll get images or phrases from unexpected sources. I keep a log of these, because even when I'm just talking to myself, on some level the universe must be listening. Note, I don't think of myself as psychic, and I sure wish I knew, but I suspect it's just the innate pattern-recognition in the brain.

    Julia Cameron addresses some of your difficulty, if you haven't read the Artist's Way (and I've never done all the exercises) it's extraordinarily helpful.

    Above all, just write. And let others read, even if you're scared. This thing we do is not about lunch and parties and jazz singers. This is about the words and the stories and the feelings and the characters. if even ONE person is touched, that's enough for me.

  37. Writing is fairly new for me, but many years ago this is how I felt about my acting career. After ten years of auditions through my agent, submitting on my own, subscribing to Dramalogue and Variety,taking workshops, performing in plays and having a B.A. degree-emphasis: acting.I was burnt out on trying and my dream was dying. Death and Birth,sometimes you've got to give in to that cycle. Something has to die in order for something new to be born. For me, a whole new dream was born-and it wasn't on the big screen or the stage.It was a rebirth of the core of my dream: to move people and to be moved. Which led to my own business in a beautiful ocean side town where other dreams were born like writing children's books.So what's your core dream? Does it light you up from the inside out? Can you allow it to be expressed in a whole new way? Here's to your new adventure!

  38. This is perhaps a bit off-topic, though it immediately came to mind when I read your post.

    I just read a blog where a writer said she was frustrated with little to no sales of her books. She then "deconstructed" a book from a very niche genre that appeared to sell well and used it as a guide to write her own book in that niche genre. She used the same cover designer. Sampled amazon blurbs and back cover copy and rewrote as her own. She put it on Amazon as self-pub and it started selling.

    Where this got interesting was the comments section, and the original author whose work was "deconstructed" had her own tactful but firm response that a bit too much was lifted from her work without credit.

    I think we get desperate when the dream doesn't work. Or we get bitter and think, screw it, I'll write what makes money. I actually don't see an issue with learning to write genre fiction that makes money, so long as the work is truly original. I would never fault somebody for taking freelance jobs, so why not write in a money-making genre? But it's almost like a slice of that dream dies with the reality of what sells and what doesn't.

    (it almost ALMOST makes me want to write a New Adult novel* under a pen name.)

    Our dreams are very personal. This biz is so subjective and doesn't offer enough kudos for the time we spend fretting and slaving over a project that might never go anywhere. I suppose we all have to determine our limits, and offer ourselves grace.

    *I've read a few great NA titles so this is not a bust on the entire genre, but more on its very fast rise to popularity

  39. Uh-ho, somebody needs some chocolate. Stat!

    The previous posters have covered it so well, there's not much left to say, except that you attract an extremely wise and talented crowd. I, too, have been at this, oh, forever, but my journey has been different, because it was coupled with a life-threatening illness that took away my ability to write.

    But here I am- healthy, writing, even making money at it when I try. If I conquered this, why can't I continue on and achieve even more?

    Over the years, I have taken many, many breaks; some to recharge cosmically, some to take classes and gain new knowledge. Writing can be draining because you are constantly reaching into your soul, and sometimes, your soul needs a break.

    You will go down in history as The Dream Coach, because of all the writers you have unselfishly helped to achieve their dreams. You have so much to teach, so much to give, and so much yet to achieve.

    You are young, dear grasshopper- your time will come. And when it does, we will all be there to toast you!

  40. I find that all dreams are that way. We get to a point where it is like we are running in quicksand. The blankness is where we just seem to loss our drive for a moment or the need to keep running. So we sink thinking we will let fate take its path. But dreamers and doer, can't just let go and just about when we are going to be sunk, we take one more big deep breath and begin to fight again.
    I have been trying to get my first novel into the Breakthrough Novel contest by Amazon. It was what, five years ago got me to finish my first novel. It has let me down a path of self realization of what I wanted from my art. I don't know if I am going to get it done this year or not but I am giving it the old "can't beat me" try. It is a dream to see my book as a book, even an e-book that others could read.
    We can all do our dreams but sometimes what started out one way ends up a totally different way.
    Blank is good because fate or the gods or your god likes to throw surprises and no one can truly see their future. When I see blank, I know my dream is coming true.
    Good luck and have fun. Catch you on the last page.

  41. They say 'those that can do and those that can't teach'.
    That was for art school.

    First book published, "What does it feel like to be an overnight success?"
    Ahah., if only you knew how much of this isn't true. There is no such thing as an overnight success and if there was, how scary would be the next hump be. Mostly it's hard work.

    Do you know somebody who says: When I retire I'm also going to write a (insert here).
    Oh no you're not! You are going to be searching for rosebugs with a torch when you retire. If you wait to then you are not a writer.

    Authoress two or three weeks ago you wrote that whatever you do you write. Beginning middle and end. Publishing is only a bonus. But the main game is all those characters waiting at your gates of heaven to escape from your head.

    Today you are asking because you want reassurance you aren't the only one to dream the dream.

    But it's not a dream. Its a bare statement.


    Zara Penney

  42. My goodness, you've certainly hit a nerve with today's post. Having followed your blog for sometime, I believe you are just coming off a major project. A project that went through multiple and major revision. You, your agent, your agent's assistant, and numerous others nit-picked it nigh onto death. While you love it, you probably can't stand the sight of it anymore. Now it's finally done. What a relief. Thank goodness.

    But the well of energy needed to push the project through to completion is absolutely empty.
    It should be, you've worked incredibly hard for a long time.

    Feeling blank for a time allows the well to refill. Not just with energy, but with creativity, enthusiasm and joy. Give it some time.

    Though instant success wasn't your destiny, perhaps taking the time to learn and hone your craft will prove more valuable in the long run of your writing career.

  43. I don't know what I can say that others haven't already said. Just know that you aren't alone. There are so many ups and downs that I think it's normal to feel numb sometimes.

    But then I get caught up in a new character's story, and finding that story makes me feel again.


  44. Hi, Authoress, Thanks for being so honest about the way you're feeling at the moment. And I know that feeling. I felt sad and a little better? when I read your post. Writing is a solitary pursuit and the bubble we create around ourselves is as destructive as it is necessary. The isolation of writing distorts reality; our dreams of publication and all that we think will follow keeps us at the wheel, yet I know an author who has twice been on the New York Times Bestseller list and has a series out at the moment, who still receives rejections, feels low when her latest ms is turned down and wonders how she can turn the tide. She continues to write for hours every day, constantly coming up with new ideas and angles. She once told me, forget being famous, forget book signings, forget dreams of financial freedom. It's all about the writing. And when I'm feeling cast-adrift or imprisoned in my bubble, I try to remember that as I write. You have a passion for words, Authoress. I guess it's all that matters, because eventually that passion will take you where the universe wants you to be. Please don't stop believing in yourself. The 'blank' will fade.

  45. Wonderful Authoress,

    We have all been there. We will all be there again. It is the way of us. (Well, maybe not Stephen King.)

    You have a glass of wine at night and try not to beat yourself up. You have a cup of tea or coffee in the morning and motivate yourself.

    You go for a long walk -- and you keep thinking and walking, walking and thinking. And at some point something in your project will jolt your mind, motivate your soul. And you will get excited again and push forward.

    And you will have coffee and wine to celebrate that, too.

    Good luck.

  46. Up until last year I'd only actively pursued publication a few times, but I've planned on being a successful author at least since I was 10 years old. And one particular experience I've had in the past few years certainly makes me relate to how you're feeling right now.

    I've worked on one of my novels on and off for many, many years. And for years I assumed that getting it published was just a matter of finally getting approval from the world's pickiest beta reader, as well as getting it to meet my own standards (in other words, making myself stop picking at it!), and then just following the steps of the process for getting an agent and a publisher. Since I had many reasons to be confident that the book was strong and the manuscript very polished, I imagined that once I called it done, within a few years I'd be holding a copy of the book in my hands.

    Long story short, when I started doing research on agents and queries, I found out that there were a couple of things about the structure of this book that might make it very difficult to sell, especially as a first novel. Needless to say, that took the wind out of my sails. And just like you, I'd been fantasizing about that launch party for years (down to details about the food and the music!). :(

    So although I'm querying that book, I'm hardly doing so with bated breath. I've almost reconciled myself to the idea that the next book (or the next one after that!) will have to be the one to get me an agent. However, another bit of reality that I've come to grips with recently is that many of my favorite books (the ones that are most similar to what I write) often garner critical acclaim, but aren't big sellers. And these days most agents seem pretty leery of anything that doesn't have 'broad appeal'. One can hardly blame them, since they have to make a living, but it makes it difficult for those who are going to go on writing the books they're passionate about even if they don't have a big market -- but who still really want those books out there where people can read and enjoy them.

    So I understand what it's like to reach a point where the fulfillment of the dream no longer feels imminent -- and that it's impossible to keep that level of excitement going. My defense at this point is to plan to have so many books publication-ready in the next few years that surely one of them will get through! And although I'd prefer not to have to self-publish (for the same reasons you've talked about), I'm also reconciling myself to the possibility of being a hybrid author. I figure that if I wait until I have one or two books traditionally published, it might work to ride that wave and bring out several others on my own shortly afterwards. Though that isn't the way I'd really like my career to go, I see having that option as kind of like having an ace in your back pocket.

    Hang in there! We're all in this together. :)

  47. I edge in on this feeling of blankness, but so far, for me, it's gone away every time It's reared its head. But I'm "only" five years and about 7 books in (and only four I've queried).

    I hope you manage to make the best of the lack of stress you're feeling. At least there is something positive in this.

    I guess just keep going and see what happens. Maybe this is actually a good thing. Stress is not a terribly helpful feeling.

    Good luck!

  48. It is not the loneliness or the lack determination, what sometimes makes dreams feel blank to me is that when they are realized will anyone care?
    To answer that question, yes, people will care.

    I guess this is where good friends are useful because they will offer support.

  49. I'm right there with you. The difference is I am yet to even find an agent. A bad one a long time ago, but that's another story. I read a quote recently that said (and I'm paraphrasing)the world is full of artists that gave up right before they made it. So I try to push through. It's all we can do. Push through and live for the moments of joy when it all comes together and confirms we are doing exactly what we are meant to do.

  50. Ohhhh Authoress!! I love your vulnerability and sensitivity-- and I'm sure that is what makes you the beautiful writer that you are. Celebrate and love that in yourself, because it is the secret seed of your talent.

    After five years of writing seriously, and many many, many rejections I finally signed with a wonderful agent in December. My book is now on submission and I am finding this whole process an excellent exercise in letting go. Yes, I am definitely that person you described--excited, eager, ecstatic at times-- and I allow myself to be because I want to enjoy this moment. I am also carefully reminding myself to enjoy it for what it is. Just this. Just getting to this point is truly amazing and as harrrrd as it is I am trying my very best to let go of the outcome. I truly believe that there is a larger plan and planner at work here- God is journeying right alongside us- giving us these desires and helping us grow along the way.

    What's amazing is--look at how successful you already are in the writing world and community! I mean, seriously- this kind of successful blog is a not a normal, easy accomplishment. I'm wondering if you have considered, without judgment, all of the possibilities presented before you. With the platform you have established for yourself, you are standing in quite a powerful and wonderful position. I would encourage you to follow the deep place within you--follow your spirit. What is it saying to you? If you feel from the depths of your soul that traditional publishing is still the ultimate dream, then do that and trust yourself as you continue on. Or if you feel like you might be in a great place to delve into the world of indie publishing, then I would allow yourself to explore that without prejudice- As you know, the publishing landscape is changing at a rapid pace.

    Either way, (or both? hybrid Authoress, anyone?) I'm going to throw out an idea -- and I HAVE NO IDEA if it's a good one or not--it just came to me and it could be TERRIBLE-- but have you thought of unveiling your identity before you become published? Perhaps the whole anonymous thing is taking its toll on you? Maybe establishing a name for yourself and owning your awesomeness publicly would open doors or other avenues or help in some other type of way? Maybe NOT, though--maybe the anonymity is what gives you space--breathing room-- time--peace?

    I don't know. But I wanted to take the time to comment because you deserve to know that YOU ARE AN AMAZING CONTRIBUTOR to the writing world and community. You are kind and authentic and talented and genuine. Thank you for being you, and for alllllll that you do.

  51. It may be that you're encountering the dream in a new way. It's like visiting a new place. You picture yourself there and plan all the things you'll do and see, but it's different when you're there. It becomes less fantasy and more practicality. "How do I get to the Eiffel Tower?" is a question of bus schedules, not scrimping pennies.

    As you said, you're still writing and working; you're still riding the bus. And the Eiffel Tower is still there. It just might take a special sunset or a glass of Burgundy to kindle a slightly different dream.

  52. LOL. That's how I felt before giving birth to each of my babies. Kind of--we're moving on, but the push and prep are over, and this is never really going to happen. No advice, but I can definitely relate.