For the past few weeks, this whole writing thing has been hitting me really hard. And after talking to a friend and some much needed journaling, I realized a few things.
The biggest realization? Traditional publishing is not my path.
For the past two years, my goal has been:
- Write a great book
- Get an agent
- Get a book deal
That’s all I’ve been focused on, to the detriment of nearly everything else in my life.
But the more I learn about the publishing industry, the more discouraged and out-of-place I feel. I look at all the book deal announcement and new author-agent relationships springing up every week, and I feel like there is no place for me in this business.
I don’t fit in.
I’m not good enough.
I will never be good enough.
I’ve had more mental breakdowns in the past two years than I have in my entire life. And all because I’ve been trying to push my way into something that just isn’t for me.
There are so many things about the industry that I despise. The drama and elitism are the main problems for me. And maybe that sounds like someone who’s butt-hurt because they’re not in the cool kids club.
I’ve never been one for that club. And yet I feel like I’ve wasted two years of my life trying to get into it. Which makes me want to cry. But I’m done shedding tears for this business. It’s done absolutely nothing for me.
Of course, I have learned and grown in these past two years. I’ve written two novels, which is something I couldn’t say two years ago. And I’ve met some really cool people along the way. And writing has led me to conlanging and worldbuilding, which both make me really happy. So happy that I’m starting a new project involving tarot and worldbuilding that I’m really, really, REALLY excited about. (I’ll be sharing more about that as I make some progress.)
But as a whole, these past two years have done a number on me. One that I’m not happy about. It’s battered my confidence, made me question my skills and worth at every turn, and opened my eyes to a world that I don’t like. A world that, if I were to become a part of it, I would no longer like myself.
Don’t get me wrong. I will always love books. And I’ll still keep writing. And I’ll even continue to follow the authors and agents that I respect and admire. Traditional publishing has brought some good things into the world, and shone a light on some good people.
But I’m done.
I don’t have the patience or thick skin or patience to deal with it all. I want to maintain my passion for the actual art and craft of writing. I want to stay positive and keep seeing the good in the world. I want to learn and grow and do the work that makes me happy. And it seems that I can’t do that from within the traditional publishing industry.
To some people, it may sound like I’m putting the industry down. To others, it may seem like I just don’t have what it takes to get an agent and a book deal. “Maybe you’re just a bad writer. Have you thought of that?”
Yes. I have. I think of it constantly. And there are about fifty agents who seem to feel the same way.
Yes, I know I shouldn’t take rejections as every agent saying I’m a bad writer. I shouldn’t take rejections personally. But how can I not take something personally when it’s all subjective? When it’s all based on personal opinion?
And yes, there are plenty of authors out there who have written dozens of books before getting their first book deal. “You just have to keep trying. If you quit, you’re a failure.”
Yes, I’ve thought of that as well.
But there’s something truly demoralizing about writing an entire novel on the hope that the right people will like it. It’s been eating at me for a while now — to the point that I haven’t written anything in over six months.
Even if I tell myself, “I’ll just write for me, screw everyone else,” I still end up lost and stuck and unable to move forward on anything. Because in the back of my mind, I can’t get past the wall of agents that each hate something different about my writing. It’s gotten to the point where I can’t even outline a novel without hearing form rejections in my head.
So, yes. I’m out.
No more querying or agent research or pitch contests or waiting for rejections for me. If I’m going to stay sane and whole, I have to move on. I have to rekindle my love for actual writing, instead of trying to wedge my way into someone else’s business model.
It’s time for me to move forward and find my own path.