I woke up to a shock yesterday morning: a writing friend blogged a goodbye. She’s leaving the writing community for now and is focusing on other areas of her life. She said many predicted this, but even after all her troubles, I wasn’t one of them.
Why would anyone leave the writing community? She’s not the first friend I have who will disappear, nor will she be the last. I have a friend who wrote a dystopian YA novel and what happened when her publishing house sent out arcs is similar to what happened to Amélie Wen Zhao when she pulled her novel because of racist accusations. My friend isn’t writing anymore and I don’t know if she ever will again.
This industry isn’t for the weak or thin-skinned. It isn’t for the cowardly. I had to find my own courage when that high-profile author bullied me and I don’t think I would have been able to had I been an impressionable twenty-something scared to make enemies. (As a
jaded forty-five year old woman who can separate her online life from her real life, it was still difficult for me. I can’t imagine the harm this author has done if she’s targeted other authors.) Even reading reviews from nasty readers can be a lesson in humility, or downright painful, feeling like a 100 lashes of a whip for simply trying to publish a good book.
I have bemoaned many a time about the circus this industry has become, and it’s easy to grow bitter thinking of all the fiery hoops you have to jump through just to find and keep readers these days. It’s not enough to publish a good book, buy some ads, and sit back and enjoy readers reading your story. Newsletters and swaps, reader magnets and websites, and not only do you have learn how to do all that, you have to pay for it too. Newsletter aggregators, and reader magnet aggregators, website hosting, website emails and so much more that it can take years of writing and publishing to break even much less make a small profit off your words.
Of course, you don’t have to do any of that. You can try to find a happy medium of writing and publishing for your own pleasure and if you can make a bit of money along the way and earn a few positive reviews, that’s enough for some people. Honestly, with the way the industry is, it should be enough for everyone.
I don’t plan to leave–like many writers, I’ve been writing in some way all my life, from writing my first short story in sixth grade or winning a voucher in ninth grade to a clothing boutique for an essay about patriotism to graduating with a bachelor’s in English with a concentration in creative writing. Words are in my blood, but I am trying to balance my life just a little bit more. It’s not necessary to write six books a year (like I did in 2020) and I’m trying to spend more time with family and friends, read more books, and watch movies I haven’t made time to see.
I’m as scared to walk away from writing and the community I’ve built for myself over the years as I am to keep going.
Do writers walk away because they’re unsuccessful? Maybe. Do writers walk away because writing is hard and for the most part, lonely? Probably.
Craig Martelle posted this yesterday, and it seemed so fitting. Give a listen to him talk about The Unsuccessful. Do you think about giving up? If you do, why? Writing and publishing is hard, but you can potentially make it harder for yourself if you keep doing the wrong things over and over again. Learning from my mistakes has been the number one priority for this new year. Putting those lessons into practice will be easier said than done, and seeing the results won’t happen for months to come, even if I finally get it right.
Thanks for reading today and I hope you all have a wonderful weekend! See you Monday!