This time, I mean it

Something inside me snapped last week. I’m not sure exactly what it was or what it means, but I feel myself pulling further and further away from writing.

The more progress I make, the farther away I feel. 

It hurts too much to put so much of myself into my work only to have it fizzle. It hurts to much to work so hard for nothing. And it hurts to much to feel like I’m not a productive member of society.

Once upon a time, I felt like I have so much potential. Now, I feel like I’m squandering it.

I’m increasingly unhappy by the products of my efforts. Not by the actual act of writing, though that’s never really been about being happy, more about being fulfilled. But by what comes after the writing and editing and perfecting.

And the problem is that so little comes after it.

The last few months were, arguably, my most successful ever, but I’ve never felt more like I’m wasting my time. Screenwriting is so whatever. And my novel is so not getting the response I hoped for.

It’s not that no one likes it. It’s hovering around a solid three and a half stars on Amazon, is (barely) scraping by at 3 on Goodreads (I gave a way a bunch of copies in exchange for reviews on Goodreads and using a Netgalley co-op)… but so many members of my intend audience are simply not interested in something anywhere outside of the contemporary romance box.

You wouldn’t believe how many reviews basically amounted to — It’s not exactly what I expected, I hate it. The characters aren’t likable enough. I hate it. The main character thinks too much (it’s too literary). I hate it.

I mean, it’s possible I’m making excuses for my own failure, but I don’t think I’m too far off base.

I’m proud of my work. I worked fucking hard to write something that is a great fucking book about fascinating characters and not just another formulaic, mediocre romance. An interesting fucking book, not interesting for a romance.

You know, the standard advice–write the book you want to read that doesn’t exist yet. And this is what I want to read– a contemporary romance with 3-dimensional characters, plenty of sex, and literary appeal.

And I think I succeeded.

But, apparently, I’m one of the only people who wants to read this kind of thing.

So many readers (apparently) just want the same damn thing. Over and over. I feel like they would have liked my super tropey first draft more than the polished, insightful draft I published.

Like I’d be doing better with something that, by my standards, is crap.

So, it’s not that I feel like I’m not good enough. I’m getting there. But I feel more and more like it doesn’t matter that I’m good enough. Trying is pointless.

And it hurts too much to see your marketing effort has created no sales, that you’re asking the wrong people for reviews, that so many people don’t actually want something thoughtful. When I saw my Goodreads score fall to just under three, I felt like I’d been hit by a truck.

And it only makes me feel worse that Bared to You has a better rating than To Kill A Mockingbird (insert other classic here). Are the readers as tasteless (no offense to Bared to You, it’s good for e-rom, but it’s not TKAM) as everyone suggests? Is romance a crap genre? Is writing a more literary book a big fat waste of time?

By all accounts, it’s looking like a yes.

I spend half my weekend actually thinking up an alternate career path.

I could never give up writing. I love it too much. But I’m starting to feel like all this time in front of my computer is only making my depression worse. That throwing myself out there in the world to be torn apart is too fucking painful.

See, in college, I took a lot of animation classes. A big waste of time, but studying film was a big waste of time. Back then, I was vegan and very passionate about animal rights. (Long story). In one of my classes, I spent the entire semester on a painfully earnest project about a guy adopting a pig. And, after I presented my final, my teacher made a joke about how bacon is tasty.

I never took another animation class again.

I was just done.

I’m starting to feel done.

Not with writing, but with ever trying to make anything resembling a career out of it.

I think I’ll be happier if I get a 9-5.

I’m not ready to call it quits just yet. I’m going to see my(school) year of tutoring and my trilogy through.

I’m going to keep writing in my spare time.

But, sometime in the next year or two, I’m going to be learning a new skill or going back to school. I’m going to work towards an actual career. (Probably teaching or programming)

Writing for a living is a pipe dream.

But worse, it’s stressful and depressing and utterly suffocating.

(Of course, there’s a good chance, I’ll be making this claim again sometime next month. Hope is a real killer).

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4 thoughts on “This time, I mean it

  1. Writing something that’s entertaining and might prod society in a nice direction can seem somewhat reminiscent of dreams of pipes, at times. This seems perfectly summed up by your teacher’s bacon joke. It’d be one thing if it was a student. But, coming from a teacher, it shows how not-far along in the evolutionary chain humans are. BECAUSE it’s a teacher, BECAUSE that’s what’s ingrained to us from a young age, it somehow passes for humor, when it’s actually more akin to a donkey’s tucus.

    So, what happens when too many tucus are pushing and pulling too many strings? A lot of disappointing shit, I suppose. I feel your pain. I wish I had something useful to say. I guess the best I can say is that I think I understand. Hopefully, that’s somehow helpful.

    And, congratulations on the Nicholl QF. That BL 4 reviewer might need to be tested for PEDs.

    P.S. Take a deep breath.

    Hold it.

    Hold it.

    Exhale.

  2. “Liked” the post to show support – not because I am enjoying your struggle. Good luck, I hope things work out for you. Based on your blog, I think you’re an excellent, engaging writer. I’m sorry you’re feeling discouraged.

  3. I was thinking about this again:

    “Back then, I was vegan and very passionate about animal rights. (Long story). In one of my classes, I spent the entire semester on a painfully earnest project about a guy adopting a pig. And, after I presented my final, my teacher made a joke about how bacon is tasty.”

    And, it’s legitimate for you to feel the teacher was being insensitive to you. Then, I was wondering what the teacher was thinking in that moment. And maybe the teacher was realizing that the vast majority of the class were meat eaters. And maybe that teacher weighed the following options: be insensitive to you, or be insensitive to a class full of meat eaters. Of course, it sucks that there’s not another option (if there’s not), but it may have actually been a calculated mitigating of risking of offending people, on the teacher’s part. And it’s unfortunate that it precluded you from taking another animation class again.

    Maybe the lesson is to not let anyone one person affect you too negatively.

    P.S. You’re allowed to take time off (even telling yourself you mean it, as in quitting). Maybe you’ll return stronger when you rise up again.

    P.P.S. Re emily’s comment: the whole “liking” a sad post has always boggled my mind as a concept. It’s a weird notion in an online world where you can only “like” something or nothing.

    • I was on the way to being done with animation classes anyway, but that did push me over the edge. I actually emailed him to let him know I was upset–which shocks me, since I almost never tell people when they’ve upset me– and he apologized. He meant no offense, but that made it worse somehow…

      It’s funny. Whenever I get these ideas about taking an indefinite break from writing, I get all sorts of ideas for characters and themes and all that juicy stuff. After I wrote this post, I wrote 3k word in my (second) novel.

      I’ll post and update soon I’m sure, but I think I need some time to refocus my priorities. Especially my writing priorities.

      Thanks for the encouragement. It means a lot.

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