The Roller-Coaster Ride
I've frequently mentioned the Soapbox column of Publishers Weekly and the October 27th issue stood out to me as an article which rang with truth. Richard O'Connor's article, Get Happy, gives tips for authors who are going through the publishing process.
He writes, "As a therapist, I've had several editors and even a publisher as clients and picked up a lot of useful gossip about the trade. That's why I know that selling a book proposal is only the start of the roller-coaster ride."
Until I read this article, I never hooked the publishing process into the metaphor or a roller-coaster but it resonates with my up and down, jerked around experience in publishing. One day you find out that some reader loved your book and it made a huge difference in their life, then the next phone call you learn a manuscript that you believed "should" be published at a particular house has been firmly rejected.
O'Connor gives three principles to handle the process (which I am including in bold with my comments):
1. Stay in control. Now you have to read the article but he's not talking about all the elements you can't control (and there are many) but only the ones you can do something about.
2. Don't Be Money Hungry. It's an area that I regularly talk about with my authors--particularly when we are negotiating the contracts.
3. Know How To Handle Too Much Information. You can read the article but I agree with his point. There are moments when your writing is out there and you have to plan in advance how you will handle the reaction or it will plunge your feelings a direction downward and you don't want or need to head that direction.
I love O'Connor's favorite tip: "When you go to bed at night, think of three good things that happened during the day."
Other people suggest creating a gratitude journal where you can record and celebrate those positive things which happen in your day. It will make a difference for how you handle the situations of the day.
Each of us do the things we can do in a day, then we have to let the rest of it go. Sometimes it's easier said than done but it's how I'm trying to handle The Writing Life.
Many years ago I moved away from publishing and my writing. In fact, I spent ten years in linguistics and academia away from the world of popular writing. While those years were character building as I look back, I know without a shadow of a doubt that my place in the world is within the publishing community.
I hope these words encourage you to persist and learn your craft in the midst of the roller-coaster experience.