Grieving A Writing Life

Author K.M. Allan shares some heartfelt thoughts about the writing life in this post. Fellow writers, have any of you experienced a similar trajectory? I know I have!

K.M. Allan

When you start out in the writing community, you’re learning, and part of that process is seeing those before you rise.

Just as you’re entering the query trenches, there are others being lifted out of them with agent representation and publishing deals, and you wait patiently for the day that person will be you.

Before you know it, years have gone by. You’ve been part of the writing community for a long time, helping those who are now the newbie you once were.

Experienced in the query trenches, you’ve seen it all, gotten every rejection type there is: the no answer, the form letter, the good but not good enough. You might have even hit that 100 rejections goal you’d heard other writers talk about but never thought you’d reach because your MS was too good. At least you thought so.

You might have rewritten it since those lofty…

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  1. Thank you for posting this, Audrey. It’s good to know I’m not alone. I’ve discovered over the last year that the writing life I have now is much better than the one I dreamed of when I was first starting out.

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  2. Thank you for sharing. This is so relatable. The publishing journey is hard, and it is at times difficult to see some newbies appear out of nowhere and shoot to stardom, especially for those of us who’ve been in the trenches for a while. I keep adjusting. 🙂

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  3. I can certainly relate to this, Audrey. I can also imagine that if a writer is taken seriously by a conventional publisher, and backed to the hilt, turned into an overnight success, they’d still be beset by dissatisfaction – like what if the next book fails, when so and so has written three best sellers in a row. I guess it reflects that basic tenet of life, how we’re never really content with what we’ve got, always anxious to control outcomes in order to secure our happiness. I suppose art starts when we stop thinking about it in those terms.

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    1. I hadn’t thought of those points, Michael. Traditional publishing involves a legal contract between the writer and the publisher, which is a potential source of anxiety right there. And it’s the publisher who calls the shots about the book’s cover, release date, retail price, how long it remains in print, and other important matters. There’s always an uneasy conjunction between art as a creative endeavour and as a business enterprise. Not to mention the personal anxieties about one’s abilities to create.
      And yet, we keep writing…

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      1. Indeed, Audrey. I’ve noticed, also, the trend for three book deals – trilogy or not. Understandable from the publisher’s point of view, signing up a new author, and wanting to ensure a good return on investment, but daunting from that author’s point of view, to sustain that level of creativity over what could amount to several years. And then, if one is an introverted type, how well will one take to the required publicity?

        These are things I’ve thought about and know I would not have got on well with, so am very glad to have hit upon the self-publishing route. You can go as deep as you like with it. You can be very cautious and distant, like me, giving books away with zero involvement by others, or experimenting more deeply and confidently with self marketing, or publicists, editors and so on. Either way, I would always recommend self-publishing as a serious option for anyone starting out in creative writing, but always with the caveat: follow the money, or who profits most here? Author, or someone else?

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        1. Those three-book deals and the consequent pressure may explain why some sequels or second books are disappointing.
          I agree that self-publishing may now be embraced by writers, rather than reluctantly turned to as a failure’s choice. It can be done without exorbitant expense, and one’s royalties are a much better percentage than those from traditional publishers.


  4. Thanks for the heads-up – I jumped across and read the post. Pretty much that is how writing life pans out. On my own experience an author, however well-published, is only as good as their sales figures in terms of how publishers receive them. Another factor involves the gate-keepers: other authors whose work competes in the same territory who actively try to damage and exclude their supposed competitors in the mistaken belief that this clears the way for their own material. This is a major problem in New Zealand where some writing genres and fields are extremely small.

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  5. A great piece that many of us can relate to. I’ve changed goals and perspectives a few times over the many years I’ve been writing. It’s still a journey that I enjoy. The day I don’t is the day I stop writing and find something else to do. As I’ve said to others, I’ve done the best I can with whatever time, talent, and skill I have.

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  6. Thank you for sharing this Audrey! It’s a good reminder that all of us are in this together and that, we’re all just going through our fair share of struggles of different shades and volumes.


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