I’m taking a few hits on the blogosphere from people who say that I shouldn’t be airing my frustrations online.Â Â They find it unseemly for me toÂ mention bad reviews or nasty reader letters because successful writers should be immune to havingÂ our feelings hurt.Â Â We should be above it all.Â We should gaze down, untouched andÂ bemused, like the gods on Mount Olympus, chuckling at the idiocies of mere mortals.
But I’ve been trying to tell you the truth: that no writer, no matter how successful she is,Â is ever above it all.Â Â That’s the point of this blog: toÂ tell youÂ whatÂ infuriates writers at every level, whether they’ve sold their first book or they’re on to their twentieth.Â ToÂ tell youÂ that some frustrations never go away.Â This is what it means to be a writer. If you think that gettingÂ your firstÂ book published orÂ signing a 5-book deal or hitting the bestseller list means you’ve lost your right toÂ experience doubts, insecurities, or any other normal human emotions, then I suggest youÂ go away. You don’t want to read this blog.
When I started this blog a few years ago,Â I thought it might be useful as a promotional tool.Â I’d beenÂ reading the blogs ofÂ other writers, andÂ was often inspired to pick up their books, so I thought: why not give it a whirl myself? I might sell a few books.
But over time my blog stopped being about promotion and became instead a writer’s confessional. If I got frustrated, I blogged.Â If I got angry, I blogged. Â IfÂ something funny or stupid happened in the writing or publishing world, I blogged.Â Â
AndÂ thenÂ I discovered that writers everywhere were tuning in.Â They’d email meÂ to say that yes, they were frustrated by the same things.Â They were struggling with the same issues.Â Some of these writers are new to the biz, and some are multi-published New York Times bestsellers.Â Â My public whining, unseemly as itÂ may be, turns out to be a group whine. We writers are engaged in a wonderful, demanding, maddening profession, andÂ most of us don’t ever want to give it up.Â Yet it’s an insecure profession.Â It requires us to sit down at our desks and create something out of nothing.Â It makes us send our precious babies outÂ into the big world where they’re not always treatedÂ kindly.Â Â
I suspect that writers in general are a sensitive lot.Â We have to be sensitive, just to write convincingly about human beings.Â How can you write about emotions if you yourself don’t have any?Â But many of us are also thin-skinned and prone to self-doubt, no matter howÂ we try to deny it.Â
If you’re not a writer, try to imagine what it’s like to haveÂ your work subjected to public scrutiny and criticism.Â Imagine that it took you a year to complete that work. Â Imagine that anyone in the world can now write something nasty about your latest effort, andÂ those comments are viewableÂ onlineÂ by the whole world.Â Imagine that your project managerÂ decidesÂ to let you go because, despite the fact he and the rest of the company think you did a great job, the company lost money on you.
And then imagine thatÂ for all that heartache, you got paid under $10,000 for a year’s worth of work.Â Â Yep, that’s what many authors get paid.
Writers love their jobs.Â But sometimes, they deserve to whine.