I finally have the idea for my next novel quite solidly outlined. As I start to write, the rejection letters for other things I've queried have come in. I hear a lot of "you are an excellent writer, but I didn't fall in love with the characters," or "your writing is solid, but the story is not for me". Either this stuff is generic rejection stuff (in some cases, it doesn't seem to be based on other stuff in the letters), or I'm JUST NOT GOOD ENOUGH. And I think to myself, will this next novel be "good enough" for an agent to bite? And then for a publisher to bite? Or will it also be close but not quite there. One agent has asked to see my next novel, which is encouraging. But it's a lot of work to write a book, and I wonder if I should be spending my time this way or if there are more constructive things I could be doing.
The answer? OF COURSE there are more constructive things I could be doing, but my problem is that I write because I can't help myself. And if I give up, I'll never, ever know if I could do this, write a book good enough and sale-able enough that someone would want to publish it.
And this stream-of-consciousness blog post answers the question of what success means to a writer: getting published by a publisher. Not because they are the final word, but because they have a gazillion contacts that I do not have. Newspapers and radio stations and magazines aren't interested in my book because I published it myself, which unofficially means that it is not good enough for them.
But there are rays of light in these dark thoughts. A lot of people have read my book, loved it, and written positive reviews. A lot of people have recommended it to their friends. And at the end of the day, I feel confident that I did, in fact, write a really good book. A book I would have wanted to read when I was 16. I'm recording the audio book now (SLOW process, as slow as writing!), and I am truly enjoying it because - surprise - it's a fun story, with some very funny, sweet, poignant moments.
So it's not really true that I define my talent through the eyes of agents and publishers. The truth is that I just want to get my story out there, and it's a frustratingly difficult thing to do all on my own.
So I guess I'll just keep on writing, at least for now. My deadline is the end of December because I want to enter my new book in the 2013 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Contest. So here goes...