Sunday, July 22, 2012

I am an Author

This post was kind of scary to write, and I'm still not sure I should post it. I don't often open up about the struggles I'm going through on my blog. I try to keep it upbeat, fun, positive and all that jazz. But let's face the truth: this business can be really hard.

So, here it is. I have a confession to make. Sometimes (okay, a lot of times) I am very self-deprecating. I tend to deal with disappointments with sarcasm. Am I breaking apart inside? Am I crushed, upset, hurting? Well, let's make a joke at my own expense, get everyone to laugh. Deflect the real pain that's there.

It's probably not a great way to deal with things.

I am surrounded by authors. Amazing, talented, successful authors. I am really good friends with a lot of them, and I have the incredible good fortune of being CPs/beta readers with or for many of them (which means I get to read their insanely good books long before they hit a shelf). I am so lucky and I love them all. It truly is a blessing to have so many blow-your-mind talented friends. This may seem like a tangent, but bear with me for a minute.

The problem is that I haven't reached that point yet--I don't have a book deal, I don't have a book on a shelf, so I don't feel legit. Sometimes, I let my own self-doubt and worry and insecurity lead me to tell myself that I don't really belong. That I'm not a "real author yet."

I make a joke out of it, but it's to cover up my embarrassment, my shame that I've been working tirelessly at this for six years and still don't have a book deal. I have a sweet, wonderfully talented friend who was querying with me back in the fall of 2009. I'd already been in the query trenches for quite some time (okay, a couple of years) and this was her first foray back into them for a long time. (She'd been published by a smaller, local publisher and was seeking national representation for her new book.) Well, here we are years later and her entire trilogy is going to be published this November, and I still don't even have a publishing deal. I often feel like a failure. I've come SO close. Like, seriously, you can't believe how close... but in the end, nothing has worked out yet.

I am still not published. And so I joke and say that I'm not a real author yet. That I don't really belong, but maybe someday... maybe.

Well, guess what? I AM a real author. I've written books. I've actually written a LOT of books. And someday they will be published. Maybe not all of them, but at least some. And I have more books yet to be written. I write every day. I will continue to write, because whether or not I get a book deal this year, or in five years, or never--writing is part of me. There are some really bad days when I say I wish I could just quit. But no matter how bad it gets, or how much I wish I could quit, I can't because writing won't quit me. 

Writing is part of me. It's more than just something I love to do, it's something I have to do.

So, I am an author. And hopefully someday you will be able to see my name on a shelf. But if not, I will still be an author, because no matter what happens, I won't ever stop writing.


Tristi Pinkston said...

Yes! Yes, you are an author! And someday, you will have that published book - and it won't make you more of an author, it will just make you an author with a published book. "Author" is what you are in your soul.

Amy Finnegan {} said...

I'm right there with you, Sara, crazy successful friends and all. Only I'm on year 10 and the best friend who I helped along her way to publication has her 8th or 9th book coming out right now. I completely relate to everything you said here, and some days (most days) it totally sucks to keep this up. I feel ridiculous.

So ridiculous that even though I’ve kept writing (because I can’t quit the beloved habit, either), I haven't submitted anything for nearly 3 years now, which hasn't exactly helped my cause. Ugh....

So you’re not alone, and there are plenty more out there just like us. Publishing is such a “right time, right place, right story, right editor,” thing that I don’t think we should take it too personally :)

When your books ARE on the shelves one day, I’ll be first in line to buy them. And all those friends who you’ve been so supportive of over the years will be there, too. Just keep going, keep writing, keep submitting. It will be worth it some day.

By the way, I’d love to go to lunch again soon!

Julie Wright said...

google hates me and didn't let me leave the comment I'd written, but the general idea is that I know EXACTLY how you feel. I have been writing for the national market with nothing but close calls and manuscripts that no one reads to show for it for seven years.
I had decided to give up because watching everyone else succeed is exhausting. But last thursday the call came--the one where an agent told me I was good enough.
I'm glad you know you're a real author and that you're going to keep writing.I'm writing to tell you that you need to keep writing because you never know when that next step is the last one you have to take in order to reach your goal. I almost didn't send the query that got me this agent. Marion Jensen helped convince me to send it. What if I hadnt? Keep writing. You will do great things!

Nichole Giles said...

I'm there with you Sara. So frustrated and spending so much time wishing writing would quit me so I could let go and move on. But it doesn't. It's one of those professions that comes from the deepest parts of our hearts. And the thing is, we can't give up on the parts of us that make us who we are.

Every night I decide to quit, and every morning I wake up and write again. And the only thing I can think is that if I can't give this thing up, eventually, I'll make something work. And so will you.

Hey, maybe we can sign together sometime! Might be years down the road, but someday always comes. It will come for both of us.

Melanie Jacobson said...

It makes me think of that quote about the difference between an unpublished and a published writer is that the published writer didn't give up. Just keep writing what YOU like. You'll break out eventually. You just will. :)

The Damsel In Dis Dress said...

Wonderful post that echoes so many of our feelings. Thank you!

Inklings @

storyqueen said...

Hi Sara,

I've been an "author" for many years (my first book came out in 95, my tenth release in Sept.) however I STILL feel this way often!! You just have to keep telling yourself that you are doing the most important thing that an author does--you are WRITING.

(That is also the most fun thing an author does, believe me.)

Hang in there!


Mary Ann said...

I'm still learning the art. It may be years before I get something published. I have had similar feelings more often than I care to admit. I think my biggest difficulty comes when I compare myself to others. I started late in life from ground zero and the truth is--there is no one in the exact same time and place for me to compare to. For now, I am okay with the fact that the only legacy I might leave is that I tried something new and I didn't quit.

ilima said...

I could've written this post. Actually, I wish I had. You are definitely a real author. And even though playing the waiting game is tough, good for you for sticking with it and staying true to yourself as a writer. I can't tell you how much I've wished I could quit too, but I can't. Beautiful post!

Jacqueline Howett said...

Published or not, you're a writer!

Can we smile now?

Kristan said...

Just wanted to say that I identify with a lot of this post, and I applaud your bravery and confidence. They may waver -- heck, we're artists, of course they will -- but I hope you'll always be able to come back to this and reignite your conviction. You've certainly boosted a lot of us "in the trenches" today. :)

prerna pickett said...

Yes you are! And you always will be. Being an author is so much more than a publishing deal, which I'm sure is right around the corner waiting for you. All your hard work is going to payoff.

Cassie Mae said...

Amazing post! A lot of us feel the same way you do, trust me. But yes, you are an author! I'd like to echo some of what's been said already that being an author is so much more than having your book on the shelf. And I bet your cps feel the same way about you, how lucky they feel that they get to read your stories before they get published. :)

Bethany Hudson said...

You GO, Sara!!

Although, when I saw the title of your post, I totally thought you'd gotten a book deal for the ms I beta read ;-)

It's gonna happen. Until then, you already have at least 1 reader fan in me, and I say that totally makes you an author!


DL Hammons said...

Would you punch me in the mouth if I said...DUH! When I see those pictures with your friends...I see nothing but authors...not a bunch of authors and Sara. Truth!

But I'm glad we're on the same page now! :)

Theresa Milstein said...

Wonderful post.

Oh, I'm with you. Truly. I started writing when you did and I don't think I've gotten as close as you have. It's a tough business. Yes, people have come in after us and gotten published before us. All we can do is keep trying and improving. I wish you the best.

Julie Musil said...

What a beautiful, heartfelt post. I think most of us can totally relate to how you feel. It's all around us. But yes, we are writers who write because we must, and we love it. Some day you'll tell this story to a room full of aspiring authors at a conference, and you'll inspire them :)

Michelle D. Argyle said...

This post makes me smile. :)

Shari said...

You are so full of awesome Sara.

David P. King said...

You a struck a homer with this post. Spot on! :)

Jennie Bailey said...

I think this was an incredibly uplifting post! There are many of us who can identify with this, who look up to you - and you finished on a high note! You ARE an author. I know that your determination is going to carry you through -- and your talent WILL get you published. Each journey is different, but it doesn't make it any less or more significant. WE ARE AUTHORS! I can hardly wait to celebrate with you when you get that deal!

Kathryn Purdie said...

First of all, thanks for writing this post. I think more writers need to open up about their struggles; it would so help the majority of us out there who feel the same way. Sara, I've only known you for a short time, and I think you're so gracious and generous. And I know (from Michelle) that you're an awesome writer! Your time will come, but I love how you say you're an author regardless. That's wonderful and I'm happy you can find peace in that now. I totally believe in you!!!

ali cross said...

Hey Sara! Funny how I came to see your blog title and KNOW I had to pop on over to read it (even though I haven't read any blogs in forever).

I had hoped it would be to announce a deal. And then I got this. Well, I wanted you to know that I have the exact same feelings as a self-published author.

I didn't get the validation from an agent/publisher that they WANTED MY BOOK--I went out and did it myself. A lot of days I think I'm not really an author yet because I didn't ever get that deal, that recognition.

I have traditionally published author friends who feel like they're not really an author because their book isn't selling tons and tons or they didn't get the big deal we're trained to hope for.

But we're putting out butts in our chairs, right? We're pouring out blood, sweat and tears onto the page, right?

Next time I see you, I'll give you a great big (and totally awkward because that's the only kind I know) hug and we can commiserate on how we're "not really authors" together.