Writing is humbling. (humiliating?)
Five years after I started writing my first book, I’ve now, finally, realized that writing is a humbling experience, even humiliating. Why?
First, authors have no exposure. Okay, some do, but only if they’re represented and have best-selling works. But the majority of authors have to work for their publicity. And some, those of us struggling just to break into the business, have to spend all our time with no support. I have written and self-published two light sci-fi books in the Sue series: Sue’s Fingerprint and Sue’s Vision. I think they’re smarty, funny, and entertaining, and I have pretty good reviews so far. But my sales have no traction. Yes, I have this website, an author profile on Goodreads, a Facebook page, and a Twitter account. I tweet and post, but to no avail. I’m sure I could gain attention if I quit my day job to focus on marketing me and my books, but I can’t afford to do that right now.
Second, to restate the title of the advice book from William M. Akers, Your Book Sucks. My third book is a story taken from my personal experience. The protagonist’s name is no coincidence. After writing, I edited the book with the help from another author. Feeling confident, I sent out agent queries. Either my queries sucked, or the first few pages of the book sucked, or both, because I got no hits. Nothing. Not wanting to give up, I printed bound copies of the book, complete with cover artwork, and gave it to students in an AP English course at the local high school to read and review. They didn’t like it. Okay, it sucked. But they did give me valuable feedback. I took all their comments and suggestions, there were a lot, and re-wrote the story. So does it suck now? I don’t know. And I won’t know for a while. I’ve put it on the shelf.
Which brings me to my third point: Confidence? What Confidence? I’ve written my fourth book. It’s the story that long ago I told myself to write. It was my first idea for a book. It’s a semi-autobiographical novel of my fight and victory over cancer—a diagnosis that occurred four decades ago when I was a small child. This is a story very close to me, and I’ve finally written it. It’s almost 500 pages filled with 113,000 words! I wrote it. I put it away. I came back and re-wrote it. I edited it. Is it good? I have no idea. I think it is, but I won’t know until I ask others, which I plan to do.
Maybe I am insane for doing the same thing over again and hoping for a different outcome. Maybe I have the story that will be liked by many. Maybe I don’t. Either way, I’ll keep writing, despite it being a humbling, and potentially humiliating, experience.