Writer's melancholy. Ugh. I can't say enough bad about it, but knowing I'm of the brooding variety makes me feel comfortable among similarly manic, self-doubting peers. It's a plague that has afflicted greater authors than me.
Please note: if you write upbeat romance and chick lit, you might be exempt.
If you write dark fiction, chances are we should have a glass of wine (or a bottle). We can commiserate over the eighty-seven thousand times we've changed our mind on our respective writing journeys.
One day I'm the tortoise. The next, I'm the hare.
Sometimes I'm so driven I eat, sleep, and breathe new writing and edits. I convince myself that I'm both brilliant and worthy, and that if I really keep pushing I'll be super-successful, that you'll read about me in the New York Times.
Then reality hits and I start questioning every decision I've ever made, wondering if it isn't just time to be a housewife. Please note, that'll never happen. Even if I'm only writing for me, I can't go more than a week without getting "the itch."
Sales slump, marketing is a trade of the devil, and honestly, mean people suck. That piece of T-shirt wisdom applies to the rejectors, the sock puppets, the jealous, and the petty who undoubtedly surface in the instance you have a modicum of success.
At some point (and I'm starting to believe this is an age thing), you realize that none of it matters. You will write what you love, what moves you, and it'll either move others or it won't. It will gain traction or it won't. There's no formula, and I am going with the spaghetti-at-the-wall method of career management, comfortable in the realization that at any point I could be committing career suicide.
Maybe I need an agent. Maybe I write the books in my head in the order they speak most loudly to me and deal with the publishing aspect after-the-fact. Maybe I take a couple weeks off because I have the most adorable new puppy en route and I just want to spoil dear Poe and spend my afternoons basking in sunshine and puppy kisses. The freedom to do all of those things is the reason I love writing without deadlines.
I could explain my recent zen boost with the flooding of vitamin D and outdoor grilling, but the truth is, I'm really introspective lately, working on figuring my newly-empty-nested, adult self out. My enlightened side sees things differently.
I believe best sellers have earned their place. I read more of them lately and am disappointed much less often. Reading feeds a writer's brain and successful novels are akin to a gourmet diet. Make the time to read if you want to be the best writer you can be. There's always room for improvement.
I no longer want free books. I want good ones, and I have no problem putting money into the machine that keeps authors doing what they enjoy if that means them writing stories I love. I'm grateful for my public voice and for the "indie revolution," but the expectation of free or cheap and the undervaluing of author's time, effort, and expense are worrisome.
I have branched out as an author, and will continue to do so until I find what feels like a fit. I want a career as comfortable as my favorite jeans, something that works on all levels and involves a support team I can count on, defer to, and who has my best interests at heart. Writers are nothing if not idealistic. I believe this perfect existence is out there. I plan on attending more conferences this year in the hopes of finding at least a jumping off point.
In the meantime, I'm stopping to smell the roses. I've got a bit of author burnout, owing to doing too much at once. I am taking my time, enjoying the spring, and following my gut into Strandville. I'm writing Departure next because I miss the characters and because my version of the apocalypse is like that pair of jeans. I'm wrapping edits on Fatal Intention, but cannot say at this point when and how it will be published. Fatal Reaction re-releases on June 9th under Amazon's Thomas & Mercer imprint. We'll see if that spaghetti sticks.