Thursday, 3 May 2012

Why Bother Writing If I'm Never Going To Be Published?

I asked myself this question out loud in my empty kitchen the other morning while scraping the hardened bits of scrambled egg from the frying pan.

Are we there yet?
photo credit,

Being on submission is thrilling, but it's also quite boring and depressing at times. They say the road to publication is different for everyone.

I confess I've begun to feel like I'm stuck on a banana seat bike puffing out, I think I can. I think I can. I think I can... as I watch everyone else is fly past me in a Ferrari. It seems to happen to other people much faster and always overnight.

I flipped back through my mental calendar and did the calculation. I started writing three years ago, during March break of 2009. No, way. Really? That long? The math was like a school yard bully, thumbing his nose at me.

I dropped the scraper and stared out the kitchen window. Three years. If it was meant to be, it shouldn't take this long, I reasoned. If it was meant to be, it should be effortless. The answer was like a punch to my gut.

Why am I subjecting myself to rejections from strangers whose opinions can ruin a lovely sunny day? Why? WHY did I ever start writing?

I wiped my hands dry and slumped in front of my computer. I checked my e-mail folder for NIGHT SHIFT. I went to the first draft and the date was confirmed. Yup, three years. I began reading the first chapter. I hadn't seen this version for awhile. I cringed. bad. I used up two pages describing the Confectionery.

Then I clicked on an e-mail dated a week after I finished that first draft. It was from one of my close friends. She'd read the first chapter and wanted more. After I had sent her the whole thing, she asked, “What happens next?”

Only a writer knows how amazing it feels to have someone ask you that question.

Gradually, I added two more friends to the weekly chapter e-mail deliveries. With their encouragement the series grew. By the fourth book, the story had became theirs as well. I'll always remember one of my friends congratulating me, “You wrote four books! FOUR!”

“But they're not real books,” I had said. She shot me a look, and then uncorked the wine.

Reading those three-year-old e-mails gave me my answer. I started writing NIGHT SHIFT because I had this story in my head and I wanted to see where it would go. I kept writing because I loved how it felt for other people to know the characters and care what happened to them. And I continue to write because it is a wonderful and powerful thing to create brand new characters and share their stories.

I now realize that as long as I'm sharing it doesn't matter if the book is hardcover or a stack of looseleaf, hole punched and tied with red yarn.

Taking the scenic route.
photo credit,

Writing is a journey. And while pedalling up hill is tough when everyone else is already celebrating at the finish line, I'll rest on my banana seat and enjoy the view.

So...why bother writing?

Because I can.

Why do you write? What inspires you?

Next Monday I'll be blogging the SEASON FINALE of Once Upon A Time. Eek!!!


Melinda Chapman said...

Lovely! What a great post. Mind you, know matter how quickly others get to the finish line, it sounds like you're going great guns to me. :)

I too love that satisfaction of creating characters and giving them a whole life inside a story. To think that if you didn't sit down and write Night Shift, those 'people' would never live. And they wouldn't have a chance to say what they have to say, which will always be different or more layered to what we try to say consciously ourselves. I guess this is why we gain so much from reading fiction. The subconscious is a deeper well to draw from. ;)

I didn't realise how much a story is a small universe of creation that will exist forever more, until I finished writing a book. I think I write because I'm addicted to that creation.

The inspiration behind my stories is always human growth and transformation. My characters break themselves down in some way and rebuild themselves for the better. Even in my YA fantasy I'm working on, lol. The conflict in my stories comes from the growing pains of the new level of the character's self emerging, and from the mistakes of the old self as it fights to hold on. I think we all exist in cycles of that. Stories of people having massive shifts in consciousness are the most inspiring for me to read, and I don't mind at all what genre they're written [or hidden] in.
Thanks for sharing your experience, and for prompting us to share as well. :)

BR Myers said...

I love your line about being addicted to the creation. You hit the nail on the head.

Thank you, Melinda. Good luck in your writing.

Jane Carroll said...

I know what you mean...I've learned to say...I write because I breathe...that seems to be my best answer!

Happy writing!

Anonymous said...

Addicted to creation is $$. I also can't wait to get lost in the world and see how my protag gets out of the mess I put him in. Plus, those moments/words/sparks of creation are CANDY when your friends/family/cat don't get what you're doing.

Good luck to all of us. Hopefully, we'll all enjoy publishing success. If not though, I'll keep writing. Those little moments of creation, of getting the scene/phrase RIGHT are usually better than what's on TV.

Excellent post BR. Great insight, MC.

BR Myers said...


Judy Blume says she writes because she has to.

Thanks for the comment, Jane.

BR Myers said...

Yes! Put the MC in a horrible situation and see what happens, make him earn his way out.

I've always thought the scariest movies are the ones that DON'T show you everything. Imagination will always trump any special effect.

Thanks for stopping by, Elias. Always a pleasure to read your insightful comments.


lexcade said...

#1, I love the way your blog looks. It's so pretty <3

#2, I've been seriously writing with my eyeballs on publication for the last 7 years (heck creative writing was my major in college). I've been trying to get an agent for almost 3. I think I finished what I'm subbing in 2009.

#3, I have been where you were so many times. I think every writer has. I've seen and read books and thought 'if this can get published, why can't I?' and I've gotten depressed and angry and upset and swore I'd never write another word. Yet I'm still going. So...yeah. I'm pretty sure all writers are masochists ;)

Thanks for this post. I'm looking forward to your OUAT blog. Mayhaps we'll get a new smexy sheriff? Or at least August won't turn to wood?

Mary Lindsey / Marissa Clarke said...

If your book is on submission after three years, you are a year ahead of my schedule. They say it takes 5 years to start up a business. I'll receive my first royalty statement at my 5 year mark. Right on schedule. :) Lovely post. Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

Stumbled upon your blog via twitter. I just had to comment, because this post made me laugh! You described my feelings exactly.

I also read your success story on QT--your book sounds sooo good, I'm dying to read it. Now I have something else to wait for, dangit.
Good luck!

BR Myers said...

Thanks for your thoughtful comments, Lexade. Writing is a solitary activity but support from others trying to do the same thing is essential.

I'm hoping for a Schmexy glimpse as well. *sigh*

BR Myers said...

Thank you, Mary.

It's hard to think of our stories as a sales venture because we're so emotional connected to the characters, but it really is a marketplace. I love your business analogy. So true.

BR Myers said...

Thank you! I love to make people laugh. Who knows, I might get some red yarn and start up my own publishing company.

Stephanie S. said...

You know, I've often wondering the same thing. My first novel was written 11 years ago and I only tried to get it published 2 years ago, without success.

Writing is one of those careers when you beat down one obstacle and you look ahead and bumping into another one. But in the end, having supporting friends is all that matters because it helps us power through!!

G. B. Miller said...

I started writing back in '05/'06, mostly as a therapuetic device to help work out a few personal problems, but I really didn't get serious about it until 2010, when I decided to get myself published the normal way.

An idea popped into my head Super Bowl Sunday'10 and within two months had a rough draft to a novel called "Line 21", which was about a woman in debt to the family loan shark and the only way that she could earn enough money was to become an adult movie actress.

Two years later, and after about one dozen submissions, I sold it to a mid-sized publisher this past February.

It's stil a journey in progress, but this has given me enough confidence to pull out one of my trunk novels to work on again as a long term project.

BR Myers said...

Enjoyed seeing your success story on QT! Thanks for the comment. Keep us posted for the cover reveal and all that good stuff.

BR Myers said...

I've met so many great friends on-line because of writing. And for that, I'm thankful.

Shar-Eliz said...

I do not want to read your books yet. I want to buy them of the shelves of Chapters and then have you sign them for the girls before I wrap them up and put them under the Christmas tree. It will happen.

Melinda Chapman said...

Please do, Bethany! You'll be swamped with subs from us all... ;)

Melinda Chapman said...

Elias, that's so true! Those moments/words/sparks of creation are what we do it for. If they're not in whatever story we're writing, we know there's no point to the work.

BR Myers said...

Excellent! I'll put you down for three pre-orders ;) Of course the girls will probably be living on their own by then, but hey, it still counts.

Tonja Drecker said...

I asked my daughter this morning - if one of my MSs doesn't get accepted soon, why in the world should I start writing another one? No one's going to take it anyway. Why do I spend all my free time sitting at a computer? Why do I want to hear, how everything isn't quite good enough? Think of all the hours wasted that could have been doing something else!

And that's when it hit. What else? I love writing. I wrote my first story with six and haven't stopped since. The idea of actually trying to get something published just came a couple years ago... but I was writing all the years before that, stuffing the MSs into a drawer, never to be seen by anyone.

So the answer is easy - even if I stop trying to get a book published, I'll still be writing. It's part of who I am. And always will be.

BR Myers said...

You got it Pontiac!

It's not a waste of time when you create something out of nothing.

Good luck with the Writers Voice contest. My agent is one of the judges. *squee*

Vivi B. said...

What a wonderful post, Bethany! I'm in the agent search right now, which can be as frustrating and exciting. It never ends, I think. Once you get an agent, you worry about getting a publisher. Once you get published, then you worry about the sales, the critiques, etc. Then on to the next book with many of the same concerns. So it's very true--the only people who can be successful are those who have to write, who love to write. Otherwise it'd be too easy to give up.

Keri said...

I write because I must. It's the best medium for me to channel my imagination. You're amazing, Bethany. I've been writing just as long as you and I've not even chanced submissions yet! ♥

BR Myers said...

Thanks, Vivi. Glad it resonated with you. Good luck with your writing journey.

BR Myers said...

Keep writing Keri! Your day is coming. Thanks for stopping by.

raballard said...

I’ve forced myself to believe that any light at the end of a tunnel is a positive thing, even though

I get ran-over by train after train after train.

I still search for that elusive rainbow, and I still get soaked to the bone by the torrential rains.

It’s getting harder but I also still wish upon the same star, and dreaming the same dream. The difference is I know now that millions of talented writers wish on that same star and dream the same dream. I’m very surprised that I have not given up

The hardest part of the journey is depending on a stranger to believe in my dream as much as I believe in it.

BR Myers said...

Thanks, for the honest comment. Yes, rejections do feel like getting run over sometimes.

I read once that the only difference between a published author and a writer is one day...the day you sign your contract.

Here's to your journey to that one day.


Rachel said...

Great post, Bethany!! I guess I am inspired in how much others believe in me as well as myself. The novel I'm rewriting (yes, rewriting) was written in March 2010. I was supposed to be studying for college midterms. Instead I wrote an entire novel. (Uh...yeah.) I then got a few beta readers and didn't really edit. Bad idea, guys. LOL. Then I sent it out to agents. They all rejected it except one who gave me an R+R this past March. I got 6 new beta readers. 5 are great and supportive. The 6th slapped me in the face by telling me my novel wasn't there yet and I needed to rewrite it. I cried but didn't flinch. When you have support like that - people who believe in you no matter how many shitty drafts they've read - it helps.

(It does NOT help when your parents tell you that you're stalling for time by rewriting and that I keep editing to avoid handing it in.)

My inspiration is hopefully getting out a new draft of this novel - I can already tell it is better and stronger just by the first 3 chapters I've rewritten - to my beta readers and for them to like it. Not only like it but think it's better than before. And then HOPEFULLY that R+R agent...*swoons*

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