People seem to be under the impression that being a published author is glamorous, that there’s oodles of money involved and there’s some sort of mystique attached to getting a book contracted. I’m almost sure I’ve blogged along a similar vein before. To be honest, whether you get contracted to a small press operating out of someone’s home in NYC or a big publishing house in London offering a five-digit advance, there’s still a helluva lot of slog involved.
Granted, with the small presses, you end up looking forward to those monthly or quarterly royalty statements. With the big book deals, you worry about whether you’ll earn out that lovely advance your revenue service probably snitches about a quarter of before you get to spend it. One means working on the whiff of an oil rag; the other adds a bit of performance anxiety. What if my agent hates my next novel? That sort of thing.
Ja, hey, so I’m still languishing with the small presses. I should look back on my career at this point and feel some sort of thrill, since I’ve now published two urban fantasy novels, an erotic romance (under my Therése von Willegen brand) and an upcoming urban fantasy novella to be released in March.
But I sometimes have these days, like today, where I’m feeling the ache of burning muscles and exhaustion. And I understand that no one ever said it was easy. It’s a slow crawl forward at snail’s pace while other authors seem to live charmed existences. Hell, stabbing myself repeatedly through the hand with a ballpoint pen is less painful than being an author.
It’s not easy maintaining perspective but I need to remember where I was in 2008 before I made my first sale. I need to remember where I was: hopeful, reeling from countless rejections. A lot of people say they want to write a novel then never finish it. Some write novel after novel but then don’t bother polishing their text, putting out one title after the other in a blizzard of sub-standard schlock.
I need to remember why I write. I write because I have stories that need telling. I write because if I don’t, my life is smaller, empty and colourless. I write because words are magic, that shape my world and touch the lives of others. I write because I have to, because there are stories itching at the tips of my fingers. I must never forget that. It’s not about that PayPal deposit at the end of the month because, to be quite honest, I’d be starving pretty quickly if I had to rely on that pittance.
And, while I won’t be giving up my day-job anytime soon, I will continue to write and breathe life into my dystopian visions because, as broken as my characters are, as twisted and dark as the tales are that hit the screen, they are a small way in which I can continue to live my dreams. The best part is that I can share these dreams with my readers, and drag them into other worlds for a little while. If we lose the ability to dream then there’s no point to living, is there?