Not all Sunshine and Rainbows
Hello my friends! Since I just finished the first draft of the 3rd book in Ellinor’s series, it seems only appropriate that I talk about some of the struggles of being a writer. Are you surprised that I am not talking about how exciting it is to write THE END on a book? Well, there is a reason for that—that excitement takes a while to come, at least for me. Why? Because there is a lot that happens, emotionally, while writing a book—in any form, first draft, final revisions, publication etc.—and the first sensation after completing a story for me, is one of being absolutely wrecked and drained. Even with that, I’d never want to trade what I do for another career or job. I love my books, the characters I craft, and the worlds they inhabit, but that doesn’t mean that things don’t get difficult. So, as I work through those emotions ahead of starting revisions, allow me to tell you a bit about what I, personally, find the hardest things about being a writer and novelist.
The first thing: the isolation that comes naturally with writing a book. It’s something that you, and you alone, write. Even if a book has co-authors, often the writer of that chapter or that character ends up writing those things alone, working through the problems and plot holes solo. And, for me, I am the only writer in my family, and while some of my family are big readers, reading a book and writing one are very different. It gets hard to be able to tell them my struggles or the things I am trying to do or accomplish in a story, what I should name a book or a character in order to fit a feeling or vibe and asking for help, or why I am so tired when I’ve just been making stuff up all day. They struggle to understand, and they do try, but ultimately, they don’t really “get it” and I get self-conscious about bothering them over something I think they find boring or don’t care about, and I tend to isolate myself from them even further. This gets even worse when I am writing something emotionally devastating.
I have to get myself “in the mood” to write certain things or scenes. Sometimes that can be fun if I need to drink some red wine when writing something particularly sexy! But not so much if I have to, let’s just say, killed a character or brake anothers heart and I have to write those scenes where the remaining characters are distraught over the emotional trauma they are enduring. When I get into those scenes, I ultimately pull my emotional heartstrings until I’m in a near depressive state, or worse. Which is not only hard on me, but those in my family who don’t understand how I can get this low over something that I love doing so much. It’s complicated to say the least, and can make me avoid writing for long stretches of time because I just don’t want to do that to myself or the people around me. On the flip side, though, it does work wonders for working through my own shit, so there is a lot of good that can come with this sort of thing, but it’s also a very hard thing to do—both emotionally and mentally just from the pure act of writing something that is, potentially, very dark.
Then, suddenly, the story is done! Hooray! Except, for me, this is the part where my imposter syndrome starts talking the loudest. It tells me things like: this book is trash, I’m not a good enough writer to pull this story off, that I will never think of another story to write again, and the last thing I wrote was as good as I’ll ever get. It takes a lot for me to shut that voice off, unfortunately, which is partially why my books don’t come out all that quickly. I struggle with knowing when the book and story is “good enough”—not just in terms of me editing and revising it, but also knowing when it’s ready for others to read the story. Because then it’s out of my control, and the reader—whether the book is out in the wild or just my beta readers—gets to interpret my words however they want and they can feel something I didn’t intend, which could be a good thing, but it’s also terrifying! It’s usually not until the books is 100% done, as in I’m putting it up for pre-order, when I feel that sense of accomplishment and excitement that makes all the low points worth it (even if you see me “bragging” on social media beforehand on finishing something, that’s mostly just me knowing that it's something I should be doing rather than genuine most of the time). However, other writers may go through a completely different process, and that’s fine and completely true for them, this is just what I go through, personally.
Of course, there are other hard parts about being a writer depending on your particular path—finding an agent, getting a cover designer, marketing etc.—but this is more the physical and emotional “hardship”, if you will, of publishing a novel. Authors are emotional, creative people, and we literally pour our heart and soul into our craft, which sometimes means it will take years for a book to be published as we work through all these complex emotions. So, remember to be kind to your friendly neighborhood writers, because even the happiest and sweetest book you read probably took more out of the writer than you may see!