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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Wistful Wednesday

Do You Have What It Takes?

So I've been at this writing thing for a long time now (most of my life, actually) and I've been trying (sometimes sporadically) for the past ten years (at least!) to, as they say, "break into" publishing. I've tried submitting to big publishers. I've tried submitting to agents. I've entered contests. I've written blogs. All in an attempt to "make it big." With minimal success. I have been rejected by the big publishers, turned down by the agents, and failed to final in the contests. As for the blogs, sometimes people read them, sometimes they don't. I did manage to catch the eye of someone who went on to start their own publishing company and published one book with them, but I seem to have been lost in the shuffle as this person builds up the client list for the company.

This has all led me to wonder - do I have what it takes to be a successful writer? And how long should I continue trying?

The strange, perhaps ironic, thing is, I have always been told that I have great talent for writing. And not just by family and friends. All throughout school, my English teachers encouraged and nurtured my writing, and in college, my assignments were often marked with the words, "This is easily publishable." So why, then, am I having such a hard time trying to break through? Why can't I find that one agent, that one editor, who decides that they have to publish my books? Why can't I make it to the finals of the contests I enter?

One of the most disheartening aspects of writing for anyone brave entrough to try it (and you have to be brave to do it) is rejection. They say not to take it personal - it's not you, the person, they're rejecting, after all - but it's pretty hard not to because it is personal. I think that's the one thing that some people from the other side of the business don't understand. It IS personal. I can't speak for everyone else, but I think they might agree, that writing comes from deep within, spilling forth in subjects and stories that mean something to us, so when someone says they don't want it, it's like they're saying, "Your baby is ugly." And no one wants to hear that, especially if they truly believe otherwise.

Well, I believe I am coming to a crossroads in my life. I am coming to the point where I'm beginning to believe that I don't have what it takes, that no one truly wants to read my books. It is a painful place to be at because now I have to decide where I go from here. Do I continue to write new stories and push them out there, hoping someone will finally take a chance on me? Do I try to publish them myself and push them out there and hope someone will buy them and validate my belief that they're worth reading? Or do I just go back to writing for myself and keep the stories to myself like I did in the good old days when everyone around me was desperate to read them? I honestly don't know right now.

So what about you? How do you decide if you have what it takes? And how long are you willing to keep at it until you succeed?

4 Moonbeams (comments):

Molly Daniels said...

Margay, sweetie, if writing is your passion, then don't give up. It could be simply bad timing; it could be the right person hasn't read your work yet.

I tried the NY route with no results. I tried POD and learned how to market my work. And then I tried my hand at the e-pub and it seems to be working.

My crit group and I were discussing this last night (meant to blog about it, but got sidetracked. Maybe tomorrow's post???), and I came to the conclusion I've been clawing my way into this publishing venture. Even if I have to go the self-pub route again through the Kindle thing, I'll get my books out there. And maybe one day someone will notice. But for now, my goal is to simply build a solid, word-of-mouth group of readers. Sometime a 'whispering campaign' takes time to build.

But DON'T give up hope!!!

Margay Leah Justice said...

Molly, you are the best! I was feeling pretty down in the dumps this morning when I wrote this (since which, I was rejected again, this time by Suite101 - not good enough to write for them, I guess) and it has become my habit to write about all aspects of writing - even the ugly parts like this - to show how it really is. And today, the reality was that I really wonder if I should go on with this. It isn't the first time I've come to this point, only this time, I have a venue at my disposal where I can tease out my issues and work through them and perhaps let others in the business know that they are not alone when they feel like this. Even if I never publish another book, I will always write. It's the task of getting it read that's taking its toll on me - probably because I am under a lot of pressure lately with my daughter's surgery on the horizon.

Thank you so much for the encouragement. I really appreciate it. And if you do write about this, please send me the link. I'd be interested in reading it.


Unknown said...

Don't give up, Margay! It is a really tough business but if you truly love writing, you won't be able to give up anyway - the muse won't let you. Just keep on sending your books out - there is a publisher out there for you, and I'm sure you'll find them soon. Just don't give up!

Margay Leah Justice said...

Kate, thank you so much for the encouragement! I will keep trying - and I will never give up writing, even if it's only for me that I write.