Monday, November 01, 2010

Is This Dream On?

The last two years has been interesting. Halloween was the second anniversary of signing with my agent, and my second novel, Blue Fire, just came out. The final novel of the trilogy is with my editor, and I joke that soon I’ll technically be an unemployed author since book three fulfills my contract. Looking forward, I wonder if the next two years will be as interesting as last two.

There will certainly be differences. I won’t have that joy of having agents request my full manuscript, but I could have the excitement of editors asking for one. I won’t have the worry of “can I sell my novel?” but I will have, “can I sell this novel?” after I write something new. I’ll have the anticipation of hearing what my crit group thinks of my new manuscript versus what reviewers think of my new book. And the fear that goes with that, because that never seems to go away, even if it no longer bothers you when someone says something negative.

The last two years have been as tough as they have been wonderful. The validation of having a real life agent wanting to represent me soothed all those rejections scars and gave me a much-needed boost of confidence. But the fear of letting her down caused more than a few sleepless nights, especially during my second-book slump, when Blue Fire was an utter mess and I was sure I’d never get it right. Working with my editor and seeing how her suggestions improved my book made me want to push myself to live up to her expectations. Which only made her push me even harder.

Two years of highs. Selling The Healing Wars trilogy was a dream come true. Getting that first ARC of The Shifter. Seeing the books in the stores next to some of my favorite writers. Having actual fans email me. Going to schools and talking with students about writing and my books. Seeing a book signing poster at the bookstore with my face on it. I’d always felt like a writer, but these things made me feel like an author.

Two years of lows. The inevitable bad reviews (because not everyone likes every book). Struggling to write Blue Fire. Having my crit group tear it to pieces. Knowing they were right and being unsure how to fix it. Missing my deadline and feeling like I was letting my editor down, even though she said this was perfectly normal on a second book. The fear that I couldn’t do this now that I finally achieved my dream. The exhaustion from pushing myself harder and harder to make up for lost time.

I’m at an interesting point right now. Knowing what I know about publishing and all the work that goes into it, I can decide if I want to keep doing it. I could just walk away once my contract is done. Never submit another manuscript, say goodbye to my agent. Write for fun and not worry about sales numbers or reviews or whether if I’m doing enough marketing and promotion. I can ask myself, do I really want to be an author?


Even though it’s sometimes hard, keeps me up at night, and stresses me out. Because that’s a small part of it, and every job has parts that make you crazy. And my day job has kept me up all night, stressed me out, and made me crazy a heck of a lot more than writing ever has.

Being an author is the best job I’ve ever had. I’m ready for the next two years.

Oh yeah, bring it on.


  1. Great post, Janice. You give me hope and inspire me in so many ways. Keep up the terrific work and thank you for sharing and helping others each and every day. Blessings, Buffy

  2. To think it all started on a Halloween.

  3. Buffy: Thanks so much :) That's one of the things I really love about the writing community. Everyone is so supportive of everyone else. It's a tough business, but not a cut throat business.

    Gretchen: I take it as a good omen since Halloween is my favorite holiday.

  4. You had me worried for a minute there, when you were asking yourself if you really wanted to be an author! Halloween has to be the best possible anniversary. Happy Anniversary, and here's to many more (and many more books, too).

  5. Great post for those of us hoping to have a similar two years soon. It's hard to keep in focus that there are ups and downs at every point in the process.

    Congrats on making it this far!

  6. Happy anniversary! Here's to many more!

  7. Like Wen, my heart began to race for a moment there with that question to self. And then you answered it and my heart slowed. You are too talented and too dedicated to writing and to your ideas and to inspiring other writers to give up on a career that is so perfectly suited to who you are. You are an Author and I know there are many more great things to come from you. I for one look forward to following you on your journey as you discover and produce what those things are!

    You're Janice-Freaking-Hardy! You're ABS for crying out loud. Give up writing as a living? PSHT! Get outta here. Aint gonna happen. :-)

  8. Such an inspiring post. I thank you for it. :)

    Even though I have yet to have a manuscript published, I know what you mean by sleepless nights. I had one last night. I have an editor looking at one of my manuscripts, and I'm extremely excited about it, but the other day I sat down with a friend and we started talking about the first few chapters. "Your main character just feels all over the place to me," she said. "His thoughts are everywhere, and yet he seems rather... flat." Of course I was slightly disappointed, but I know exactly what she means, and I thought then that I might know where the problem starts.

    I want to fix it... I go to fix it... then I pause in horror as I wonder what the editor must think of such a boring character. I start to write... then I stop and reread the original (multi-edited) first few chapters... I still think the character comes off right for the age group I'm aiming at, as well as the voice (though it's been cut down a lot to appeal to a younger audience). I pour over my character's thoughts and dialogue. They don't seem all over the place to me... so then I think it must be ok... but then, I'm the author, so how would I know what a reader might think? I go back to wondering if my friend was right, get paranoid, and the whole thing starts all over again. :D I know I can't please everybody, but what if... what if...

    I wonder, do all authors feel like this? *lol* :) I suppose most of them do.

    Happy Book-deal-versary, btw. I hope the years that follow this will be as exciting for you as the last two. Thanks for the wonderful, encouraging post which proves that we aren't alone in our struggles (or our victories) and that even those far off dreams can come true if we continue to reach for them. :D

  9. Glad a published author has some of the same questions once in awhile as I do as an unpublished writer too. I sometimes wonder if I should continue. But I always come back to that I love to write and create a story. Glad you are excited about your next two years. It'll be interesting to see what unfolds for all of us.

  10. Aw, thanks guys! Don't worry Wen and Melanie, I'm not quitting. I'm in this for as long as folks will have me.

    Star-Dreamer, that one of the hardest things about writing -- how to take feedback and figure out what to do with it. Sometimes it helps me to try and figure out why someone thought what they did. maybe some key component was missed, or maybe I could have done a but more to make something clearer. The problem sometimes isn't where someone says it is, but further back when the original groundwork was laid. And sometimes, folks just don't get something. And I can't speak for all authors, but that happens to me, too. I imagine it's pretty common.

    Natalie and Chicleeblair, I think there are always occasional worries and doubts no matter what stage you're in. And all jobs, heck, all things, have their ups and downs. I do think the whole submission process is a great test for the business (grin). If you can survive that, you can probably survive publishing! On the job training before you even get the job.

  11. yay! I'm so glad to see you're going to keep on going. :-) the way it was phrased, it scared me a bit

  12. It's nice to hear a writer (and author) be so honest about the ups and downs, but still make it sound like a wonderful journey.

    Here's to the next two years!

  13. You go girl. I don't see you stopping until they tie you down! And neither should you; you're brilliant and your books are wonderful. So there.

  14. Sarah: Didn't mean to scare you :) I had no idea that comment was going to be so tense.

    Ellen: I always try to be candid about the biz. I know I wanted to know what it was all really like, and I think folks might be better prepared if they have more information about it.

    Juliette: Thanks! I'm so glad I always have you to perk me up during those down moments.

  15. I never doubted what you'd answer at the end, Janice. You're a writer.

    Thanks for sharing this and thanks for all your help on Channel Zilch/Hel's Bet.

    Can't wait to see what you come up with to top Nya's saga!

  16. Aw, thanks Doug :) I'm looking forward to cheering your success when CZ/HB sells.