Hungry for Respect

Judging by the reaction over at Lee Goldberg’s site, http://leegoldberg.typepad.com (a site I normally read with great pleasure), my latest blog entry was a really, REALLY bad idea. It reminds me of my very first entry here, about how maybe this whole blog thing could be a bad idea. It seems that writers who reach a certain level of success aren’t allowed to have any insecurities, any doubts about our careers. We shouldn’t be allowed to wonder if our sales are in a death spiral, whether we’ve lost “it”. We should simply smile and wave and feel like, well, the untouchable queen of England.I’ve thought about deleting my last blog entry entirely. Instead of talking about my experience with bestseller lists and my impression of publishing realities, I should talk about, oh …

say, isn’t this GREAT weather we’re having today?

The truth is, I’ve never conquered my insecurity as a writer, and having hit the list doesn’t change that. I’ve never lost touch with the feeling that success is a never-ending struggle. Maybe it has to do with the fact that I slogged my way up as a paperback romance writer, that I wrote nine of those before my first hardcover, and I’ve never forgotten what rejection feels like. Every time I sit down to start a new book, I’m always hit with that panicky feeling of “How on earth did I do this the last time?”

So it does sting when other writers tell me I’m not allowed to air the insecurities that I suspect every other writer — even those on the NYT list — probably experiences.

No wonder there are so few bestselling authors blogging about this. They obviously know enough to keep their mouths shut.

I came up from the bottom, so I know what it’s like to be starting off, hungry for respect. I know that pretty much every writer — whether or not others consider him a hack — doesn’t think of himself that way. He thinks of himself as an artist, and every bad review hurts, every bad sell-through is a disaster, every snide remark is an attack on his integrity as a writer. The same things that hurt you at the bottom will hurt you at every other level of your career.

But if those things don’t hurt you, if you no longer care what people think about your writing, then maybe you’ve stopped being an artist. Maybe you HAVE become a hack.

Anyway, this was my long sigh for the day. I won’t erase the previous entry — it’ll stay there as a cautionary tale to other blogging writers that there are some things you just shouldn’t be honest about.

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