When I was writing the first draft of my first novel, I had big dreams. For one, I wanted it to be published in hardcover. I had published nonfiction in paperback and felt like I would finally be able to consider myself a “real” writer if I had a hardback. (It was 2001. Such ideas seemed to make sense back then. Now I know being published “only” in paperback is the writer’s equivalent of a first-world problem.) Also, I wanted a two-book deal, and I wanted the book to be optioned for a movie. Like I said, big dreams.
Over the next few years my dreams grew less grand. I stopped caring whether it came out in hardcover or paper and just wanted it published. Just this one novel. Forget a two-book deal. Then, as I got deeper into the thicket of rewrites, I stopped caring whether it got published at all. I just needed to make an agent’s cut, I figured. If I could do that, then, even if he or she couldn’t sell it, I’d know I was on the right track. By the last draft, I didn’t care if an agent ever read it. My only dream, my only goal, was to finish the damn thing.
Ironically (or maybe not so ironically, depending on your belief system), I got a lot of what I wanted. Two-book deal. Awards and great reviews. My first novel got optioned for a TV movie and even more amazingly, they actually made the TV movie.
But all that didn’t lead where I had hoped it would lead. My second novel didn’t do as well. The economy crashed. Technology changed. My editor got laid off. An editor at another house who wanted to buy my third novel based on a proposal got laid off. I wrote a partial draft of a sequel to my first novel and a treatment for a movie. Both almost happened, but didn’t. Friends shared similar sad tales. Every day it seemed like there was more bad publishing news. I started to suffer a crisis of faith. I felt like I had been led down at least two dead end paths. It was hard to keep any writing dream alive. Woe was me.
Then last year around this time I switched my focus a little, and went on Weight Watchers. I kept writing. In fact, after blogging a few times about writing through doubt, I got a deal with Agate Publishing to write a book on the subject. (Working title: The Not So Fearless Writer. If all goes well, look for it sometime next year.) I kept working on my novel-in-progress. But I also worked on getting my head and spirit right too. And it helped me see things in a new light. [Read more…]