I've been floating around the blogs the last few days and ran across an interesting thread from published authors that's really resonated with me. I was going to keep silent on it, but I've found, yeah, I need to say something.
It's an interesting phenomenon that happens to writers after they become published. Elana Johnson, Tahera Mafi, Michelle Davidson Argylle, and Jody Hedlund have all voiced their emotional upheaval. I felt the same thing after my book showed up on the Kindle. I was overwhelmed with how many books were bought, yet down-hearted that it wasn't enough. But what did I expect? I would sell a million copies overnight, that one of the agents who rejected me would call and say, "oh yes, I was so foolish to let you go, let me offer you a contract now", that I would become the next overnight sensation because I had finally self-published this "thing" that I'd been working on for two years.
I know there are differences between indie authors and traditional authors, but the feelings are basically the same. I take from Elana, lost and alone. I put my book out there and waited for the accolades, the kudo's the press, and nothing. I take from Tahera, that giddy feeling of going into a bookstore (although, I have to check my Kindle stats every 3 hours) and staring at the cover, feeling the pride, yet not wanting to be conceited about it. I take from Michelle the overwhelming jealousy over what someone else has. My own crazy insanity that another author got 57 reviews overnight and I only had three for two months.
I have done something no one else in my family ever did, but my family doesn't care. Not one note of congratulations, not one encouraging e-mail. NOT ONE. Like, who cares, it's just Anne, being Anne again, just another one of her hare-brained schemes to make money (I refer back to my catering business -- they all said I couldn't do that either.) This hurts so badly you can't imagine. My own family doesn't give a shit that my name is on a book. That it's being read by 182 people whom I've never met. If that doesn't make you a little emotional, then nothing will.
And so, after three months of watching and waiting for the "big break", I finally came to the conclusion, there's nothing any different about being a writer than there is about being a chef, or a cab driver, or a doctor, lawyer, Indian chief. When the next day dawns, you put on your pants, brush your teeth and go to work. I just happen to work from home, downstairs in my basement.
The expectations that life is going to change in some dramatic way after we are published are fed to us, by us, by other writers, in where we read about the debut author snagging that million dollar movie deal. We want to be JK, Stephanie, Kristen. We want it to be us. Desperately. (And if you say you don't, you're lying. Okay that's a blanket statement, so I take it back, but we all do think at least once, how fab it would be to be famous.) We want the awards, the fame, the hype, but when it doesn't come (to most of us) we're left feeling out of sorts in our own skin, and wonder who it was that we could blame for lying to us, who told us this was the way life was going to be when you get published.
And we find, it was only ourselves.
Yes, I do take pride in all I've accomplished, but what I need to remember is, I'm just a writer who wrote a book. Sure, I'll be jealous, and afraid, and excited, and overwhelmed by all these crazy emotions. The feelings of abandonment, despair, elation, joy, and trepidation are just the natural process of evolving from writer to published author. Kind of the same feelings after you've had a baby.
But what I've found through these last three months, is to just let it go, and get on with what I do best. Love my daughter, pen my next stories, and catch up with the laundry.
What else is there really?