And if you don't know about the blog called Writer Unboxed, you simply must. Today's blog post by the brilliant Robin LaFevers is a must read: The Seven Stages of Publishing Grief: Hello, Darkness, my Old Friend.
"That collective groan and gnashing of teeth you heard Wednesday was the sound of authors reacting to Amazon’s new Author Ranking System—oh joy!—yet one more tool for us to compare ourselves to others. And for any of us trying to separate our selves from our writing? Well, you can just forget about that.
So this seemed like a good time to talk about writers and disappointment. For while writing is one of the most rewarding pursuits in the world, publishing can be a long, slow, painful slog toward the pit of despair, and you can quickly find yourself in the soul sucking land of Major Disappointment. And guess what? This disappointment applies equally to pre-published, traditionally published, and indie published authors alike, so I guess that’s the upside: egalitarianism!
The thing is, we writers are so very good at telling stories—even (or especially) to ourselves. We knew that we were going to be different. We were not going to need 10,000 hours or ten years. We were absolutely positively certain our career was going to be one big meteoric trajectory.
We knew that we would immediately hear back from all fifty agents we queried, and when our manuscript went out for the first time, a hot bidding war would ensue. Oh, we knew we weren’t going to hit the #1 spot on the NY Times list first time out, but we also knew that we would never languish in the midlist, or have our book go OP after only thirteen months.
And not only was Hollywood going to come knocking, but Spielberg or J J Abrams would be making the call personally.
Also? We’d be the very first person to win the Newberry and the Prinz and the National Book Award, all for the very same book! (Talk about genre bending!)
But then, with a great big confidence-shattering crunch, we find ourselves back on Planet Reality, blinking in surprise as the dust of our rosy dreams floats ash-like all around us.
This festering disappointment we sometimes feel is the elephant in the room among writers. We’re not allowed to talk of it lest we come off as ungrateful. We also can’t talk about it because so much of publishing ‘success’ is smoke and mirrors—it’s about creating the illusion of being in demand in the hopes it will make us actually in demand. So if we talk too openly about how our career is really going, well, we’ve just let the cat out of the bag, and everyone will know our true numbers and our career will sink even faster.
Writing in the age of Google, it is nearly impossible to avoid comparing ourselves to other writers. We know so very much about their book deals, their marketing budgets, their promotional roll out. Other writers’ success is right in our face, everywhere we turn. And knowing all this industry stuff is akin to letting the money lenders set up shop in our creative temple, and it can absolutely drain the hope and creativity and contentment right out of us.
So how does a writer cope with the often inevitable, painful jagged edges of our broken dreams and failed hopes?
First of all, it’s okay to just sit with our disappointment. We owe it to ourselves to grieve for the dream career that never quite achieved lift off, to mourn the publishing expectations that have gone on to that Great Shredder in the Sky. But then, how do we move forward?
I would like to introduce you to what I call the Seven Stages of Publishing Grief. Something I have great personal experience with. I’ve gone through this entire process at least three times, and I have no doubt I will journey through it another time or two before I’m done.
Important Note: It’s essential that you don’t get stuck in one of the first four stages for the rest of your life. It is vitally important to your creative soul that you keep moving through them all the way to the Resurrection Stage, for without that, you’re simply stuck in a really ugly place for a very long time.Stage One—Shock and Denial: This is where we still can’t quite believe it has happened to us, and are processing and flailing as our dreams begin to crumble.
Noooo! This can’t be happening! Not to me. I followed all the rules. Met all my deadlines. Never responded to a single negative review (although that Philistine who called my book the worst book EVER WRITTEN totally deserved a response.) I took every marketing and promotion opportunity that came my way, and carved a hundred more with my bare hands and sheer dint of will.
Go here to finish reading the rest of the Seven Stages as well as the great comments!