Cross The Line

And hit the wall.

and hit the wall.

Because I’m more than a bit out of focus.  I think about lines a lot.  Don’t cross this line, don’t cross that line, balance on that one over there.  Sometimes I feel like the lines shift, but do they really, or is it my perception–and oh! is that line on a fucking hill?

The line I’m thinking about this morning is, of course, writing and publishing.  There’s a small group I’ve been spending some online time with.  All talented and writing varied genres, all filled with optimism and hope.  Different stages of pursuing publication, a couple who are self pubbing with thought and intention. Needless to say angst and self-doubts are part and parcel of writing, querying, and submitting, everyone takes turns pumping up whoever needs it most on any given day.  Most of the members of this group are young, those who aren’t young are relatively new to the process.  I don’t mean new as in still learning basic storytelling, but new as in less than 5 years of seriously pursuing publication.

I’m not young.  Or new.  At the moment I’m not writing or submitting.  I still have several requested fulls out, but at this point any responses that come from them will be unexpected.

Am I the fly about to be captured, the trap that can only wait for food, or the blackened trap that needs to be removed before fungus sets in?

Am I the fly about to be captured, the trap that can only wait for food, or the blackened trap that needs to be removed before fungus sets in?

I don’t want any pep talks.  I’m not angsting, thinking my words and stories truly suck.  They don’t.

To me, worse than limping along to the battle cry of “I coulda been a contender” is the nonagenarian still waiting for their big break. Yes, I see/hear it.  New York.  Not that I’m ninety, or qualify for the senior discounted Metrocard, but still.  I have to figure out if I’ve crossed the line from being patient and persistent to delusional.

There’s a part of my brain that will always be taking notes for future characters,  will see that one moment, hear that one phrase that begins a story in my head.  I will probably always write.  I love blogging, I’ve enjoyed the experience of posting a couple of stories here on the blog, and suspect I will continue doing so every so often.  But full length novels?  Querying?  Submitting?  There’s a phrase I’ve heard a lot over the past ten years or so, maybe it was always there and didn’t come across my radar before, I don’t know–return on investment.  Writing full length manuscripts, querying, submitting to the paying lit mags, these are things that require a lot of time, energy, work, and focus.  I can’t help but wonder at this point if it’s a poor use of limited resources.

23 comments

  1. I fit the ‘not young, relatively new’ group. I started writing in 2011, I think. Or was it 2010? Whatever, I’ve written five novels now, working on my sixth. Sold none, queried all, the last two with the help of Absolute Write. . .

    Like you, Mrs Fringe, I have a few fulls out. Like you, I sometimes find myself wondering if this is all for naught. You’re right, it’s a lot of work. A lot, a lot, a lot, anybody who thinks writing novels is easy hasn’t written novels. Anybody who thinks editing, querying, waiting is easy–

    You and I know, it isn’t. But that line you’re talking about–between possible and impossible, hopeful and hopeless–that line isn’t cut in stone. It’s our own construct, drawn in the sand and hence, prone to shifting. Things happen, fortunes and circumstance can turn on a dime.

    But I believe we abandon our dreams at our own peril.

    We all need something to look forward to.

    xoxo kk

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    1. It’s true, the line isn’t cut in stone, and that’s why we each need to decide where the line is as individuals.

      I’m not sure I agree about abandoning dreams at our own peril. Sometimes I think it’s the healthier decision to say, “I need something tangible.” Something to look forward to is something we *know* will happen. I don’t know this will happen for me. I’m thinking.

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      1. Jen raised some good questions, and you and she have me thinking. We don’t have a limitless cache of time and energy. Would it be more prudent to seek fulfillment in things we know will bring us happiness? Would I be happier knowing I’m never going be published? Would that allow me to move on, readjust my priorities, perhaps pursue a more accessible, tangible goal?

        What I want from writing isn’t guaranteed. It’s not just publication, I could do that myself if I wanted to. But that’s not my personal definition of success, relative to my writing.

        It’s a personal choice. We each have to decide for ourselves what is important to us, weigh the positives and negatives. What I envision may not be forthcoming. I’ll never know for sure if it is, unless or until it actually happens.

        But it might. And if it does, I shall be a very happy camper. I’m not ready to let that dream slip through my fingers. For now, at least, I’ll hold onto it, pondering possibilities on a warm and stormy August afternoon.

        ❤ kk

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  2. Well…..what would you be doing instead? Would you like it more? Does thinking about it make you happy?

    Pep talks are annoying. Relentless optimism sucks. But, do what makes you happy. Do what you can immerse yourself in.

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    1. These are good questions, Jen, and I’m not sure of the answers.

      Writing with the intention of pursuing traditional publication has been a part of me…forever. I’m not sure how it would feel to say “I’m done with that.” Empty or relief? There’s that little whispering voice quoting that definition of insanity–doing the same thing over and over expecting different results. I’m a wacky old gal and I embrace it, but insane? I don’t think so.

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  3. Hey mrs. f, if you love writing, it’s not a waste of your time. Of course any decision about whether you continue to pursue this or not is entirely yours. I do detect some sadness in this post and I feel for you. (((HUGS)))
    Diana xo

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    1. Hi Diana 🙂

      As I said in the post, I don’t see myself ever completely giving up writing–that’s crazy talk 😉 I have always written shorts, always will. And blogging itself may not be the Great American Novel, but it is writing.

      I’m questioning whether or not to give up pursuing traditional publication. Does it make me sad to think about giving that up? No doubt. Is it the best choice overall? I don’t know, but I’m thinking. Haven’t come to any conclusions yet, and we all know I need to obsess about things for a long time before making a decision. ❤

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  4. I don’t know if any of us can judge the value of our own writing, so there’s nothing left to go on but the response we get–first from ourselves when we do it and then from others. I’ve published two novels and have a third coming out, and before I published the first one I thought publication would change everything in my writing life (or, I suppose, in my entire life). Now I think having my next novel really take off would change everything. I also know that thought’s bullshit, but I think it all the same. There’s always another mountain ahead of the bear.

    After I published the first novel, I wrote another that I couldn’t sell. And another I couldn’t sell after that. And a third after I published the second. Now I have one I can’t finish. What does it all mean? Damned if I know. I’ve walked about from the unfinished novel more than once, and thought I was walking away from writing entirely, but I keep coming back. I’m not so Zen about writing that I’d want to say publication isn’t the goal, but I do feel fairly sure that it’s not the only goal.

    A final thought: Maybe blogging will turn out to be the great American novel’s new form.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Ahh, the when/then phenomenon of writers. I’m not sure what any of it means either. Publication isn’t the only goal for me, but I can’t say it doesn’t matter–again, speaking only for myself.

      You could be right about blogging, who knows? I can say I get tremendous satisfaction from Mrs Fringe, both writing and interacting with commenters/followers, and it’s crossed my mind approximately 6852 times to publish Astonishing here if/when I decide to stop querying.

      Welcome to Mrs Fringe, and thanks for joining the conversation! 🙂

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  5. If publication is put aside, do you love to write? Do you feel like this is your media to express yourself creatively? Publication is what halts our writing. When we stop obsessing on this aspect we free ourselves and write. Maybe you can do what you are implying in this great thoughtful post: write for you, in the way you probably did when you started. See how you feel about it. If you have enjoyed the journey, it is not the writing itself that is an issue but only the querying and submitting, the wait and the rejection. I wouldn’t give up on writing, though. You already write when you keep up with the quality of your blog. I share your concerns and disappointment and I send good vibes your way.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes! If we can just get back to that initial sense of freedom.

      When I’m at my best with the whole submission process, I send stuff out without a whole lot of emotional involvement. I’m not always at my best. I’m probably not even usually at my best. (It’s hard not to add “I’m never at my best,” but let’s skip that.) The truth is, it’s like offering the world your head so the world can kick it. Over and over again. When I can manage not to get too involved, my head isn’t quite where the kick lands.

      Don’t I make it all sound like fun?

      On the other hand, I really do value the publishing process. Working with a good editor is like having someone suddenly sing harmony with you. It’s wonderful, and takes you beyond anyplace you could get to alone.

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      1. Heh, and here’s where Mrs Fringe shows the true extent of her weirdness:

        I do agree that querying can feel like offering your head to be kicked (especially in these days of non responders).

        That said, I don’t feel constrained by it. In many ways, learning all that needed to be learned about querying and submitting was more freeing, because along the way of learning agent preferences and publishing interests, I learned more about the craft of writing, enabling me to strengthen my work, and understand what it means to keep readers in mind. Since readers are what I’d like (and, of course, a dollar-ha!) this has been important for my unending journey through the unwashed and unpublished. ❤

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    2. Thank you, Evelyn, for your thoughtful and supportive reply ❤ I do love to write, but for me the writing is only half. The other half is being read. Otherwise I'd journal.

      Blogging has certainly opened a new dimension for me, and I have no plans to stop. Posting the couple of shorts that I have has allowed me to blend the two, blogging and fiction, and I expect I'll be doing more of it. 🙂

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  6. It’s fascinating for me to read this AFTER I read your brilliant chapter 1 Astonishment just now. I self-published my novel far before it became the “in thing to do.” There were no judgments about it back then. It sold only a few thousand copies in five years and found a niche with a certain segment of women. But suddenly I was asked to speak at book clubs. It led to an article about me in Elle magazine, I was the subject of two famous radio talk show hosts and Barbra Walters approached me for an interview on 20/20. I tell you this only because it never dawned on me what WEIRD doors would open or strange paths present themselves, from the simple act of self-publishing. I saw it as a means to an end. Getting read. Period. That was all I ever wanted or narrowly hoped for. But you just never know what journey it will send you on. All the writers conferences I have been to recently, the agents speak about indie publishing with great regard and respect. A few have even advised their clients to turn down another (bad?) deal and go this route instead. This link might interest you? You are an incredible writer!
    http://www.writersdigest.com/online-editor/dont-be-afraid-of-indie-publishing

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    1. Yours is a fabulous success story, love hearing it! 🙂
      And you’re absolutely right, you never know which path will open the most doors. If there was one, definitive road to success–or even one definition of success–everyone would follow it.

      Thanks for linking the article, it covers some great points. I may at some point revisit the idea of self pubbing, but for now, I know that to do it *well* involves a lot of moving parts that I’m not skilled in. One of the most fun books I’ve read this year is by an indie author (SL Huang, Zero Sum Game), and she did it well, kwim?

      Thank you for reading, commenting, the ideas and the compliment! ❤

      Like

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