Yesterday, my lawn was green. And just like that, one snowfall equals the grand arrival of winter and Christmas and all the mud and crap we’d previously sludged through is now bright, shiny and new!
The same can be said for selling your first book.
Writers spend years in the trenches, newbie green, envy green, green with fear, sick-to-flippin’-death of the whole business green… And just like that, one contract and you’ve finally arrived as an Author and your world is bright, shiny and new!
But is it really?
Over the past few months, several of my writing friends have made their first major sales. I performed the requisite and sincere yippity-skippity river dancing for them. As a long-time mentor, I genuinely celebrate every benchmark my fellow writers achieve in their process toward the holy grail of first sale. We must, right? Because each baby step leads us toward the end goal of becoming a bright, shiny new Author.
But snow melts and contracts get fulfilled. And so we plant our faces against the pane and wait for the next one to happen.
Because now we start over again. How different is a writer jumping from the query trenches to the deals section in a Publishers Marketplace announcement, really? (Besides their bank account, perhaps…)
Has their writing process changed? No. Has their need for critique feedback from their fellow writing partners changed? No. Has their need to complete a compelling story changed? No. Are they guaranteed another contract? HELL no.
Because without these crucial elements (and let’s face, it a dollop of good old fashioned right-place, right-time, right-story LUCK), they wouldn’t have made the sale in the first place, nor will they sell again without them. So, suffice it to say, after that first book contract melts into past tense, a writer is right back to being green again.
The torture of newbie green, envy green, green with fear and sick to death green does not stop with the almighty contract. It just hikes it up a notch. Now you’re a newbie author and you don’t know the marketing tricks all the cool kids have mastered to sell a gazillion books. Once your sale has been announced, you’re old news because another newbie landed a bigger contract and twice your advance, loser. The editorial letter arrived asking you to rewrite EVERYTHING and you’re skid-marking your panties because you haven’t a clue what to do so you hide it in the freezer. And finally, your book hits the shelves, but the critics are eviscerating your hackneyed skills and saying so-and-so is a way better writer and eyebrows raise because you got paid WHAT for this dreck?
It ain’t easy being green. And it’s a color we all wear in this biz from just starting out to multi-published. Writers are insane. We live in a hamster wheel and gleefully chug our little legs toward the next goal – get an agent, sell the book, sell another, get a bigger advance, a higher print run, make this list, make that one – bigger better more run run run squeak squeak squeak.
No matter what, a writer will always be looking over their shoulder at other writers’ successes and waiting for the next snowstorm to happen to make their own success bright, shiny and new again.
A writer who will never be satisfied with the benchmarks and baby steps of success, will always be GREEN.
I say, to hell with being green. It’s not worth it. You can’t spend your time worrying about the things you have no power over. Sure, be jealous over a sale, a big advance, a bestseller – but be HAPPY first. Especially if it’s a writer you’ve spent time in the trenches with. Be genuinely yippity-skippity river dancing in celebration for them.
Then, get MOTIVATED. Let the success of others ignite the flame inside you to follow in their footsteps. Acknowledge that no matter what, there will always be other writers a step ahead of you – they sold first, got a higher advance, another contract, hit a list, WHATEVER. Their achievements don’t set the bar for YOUR milestones unless you let them. Celebrate each of your baby steps as you take them. You don’t have to be the leader, but you’re not destined to be the follower forever, either.
Make sense? Because what I’m saying is this: Your time will come.
Tell yourself this Every Single Day – Your Time Will Come. You Will Make It Happen. And you need to *believe* it, too. Because, if you don’t believe in your own ability to make things happen, no one else will, either. And if you don’t have enough confidence to believe, fake it.
Fake it until it’s real.
So, lose the green. Write the damn story. Your time will come.
And when it does, let me know, and I will genuinely yippity-skippity river dance for you!
Because I already know… MY time will come, too.
And you’d better flippin’ dance.
Great post! It was so inpsirational it could almost be a musical number (the part in the Disney movie where the princess sings about what she wants and how far she’ll go to get there).
I will dance like a manic for you, Bets. As I know you will do for me. And, dammit we will BOTH be dancing that yippity skippity dance for ourselves and each other in 2013.