Ericka Lutz and Belle Yang and I ended up having chats about Ericka's initial blog and then mine from yesterday about our relationships to writing and to our writing careers. I realize that I may have skirted around the issue entirely, focusing not on my career but the writing. It was, as they say, the easy way out.
So I did more thinking, and I realize that my writing career is like my skinny little silent partner who walks around with me, often mute, sometimes very chatty, but not really a juicy girl, not really a happy girl. Sometimes, she's content to gnaw away on what I can throw her. Often, it's a steak. Sometimes it's kibble. I don't like her sometimes, wishing she'd go and take a bath or blow dry her hair. Sometimes, she gets all shiny and gleaming and I'm overwhelmed by her beauty, but that lasts about an hour, and then she's back to being that scrawny little kid who tags along.
I am very lucky, I know, to have a good agent, published novels, and the opportunity to publish more. I have many students who desire this very thing, work hard on their first novels and their query letters. I was there once, not too many years ago, and I remember the need for the agent and the need for the editor. Then the waiting for the first novel and the good reviews, which came, and then . . . and then . . .well, nothing really took off. Editors talked about wanting to get onto Oprah or make the NYT bestseller lists. Then there were the almost movie deals, the television deals, and then not. Maybe the next books would do better, but while the reviews are usually very good, the masses did not flock to me in huge seagull clouds. Midlist. Midlist.
I have gone to some lovely events, met wonderful people, traveled to Manhattan and had nice meals with my editors and agents. The good news for me is that I am an extrovert, a person who has a lot of experience talking in front of people (teaching always pays off) and I have been able to go out and talk about my writing and novels. I've been able to connect with readers all over the world--be published in different languages. I am mindful of the benefits and the new experiences and thankful for then. And the money. But the career is something outside of me, far removed from my heart and soul. Something I worried about a great deal--numbers keeping me awake at night--and then had to simply let go of.
Then my agent said, "Why don't you write a romance?"
Well, why the hell not. And I've enjoyed the romance writing a great deal, but that now that I am coming up out of that six novel experience, it's not exactly what I had in mind, either. I turn to my scrawny silent friend, but she's mute lately, sort of taking the vanilla wafers I've been throwing at her and watching me to see what I will do next.
But after turning in the last romance from the second trilogy (which I enjoyed writing), I found myself writing a novel that I couldn't stop writing. It came out of me like thought. It poured and flowed, and it was over too soon, and now is on its way to my agent. What a joy. What a blessing. And it was like a couple of my novels, my first and third, novels that just were there to catch and then release.
That's why I think I focused on my writing instead of the career yesterday in my blog. That is the joy and the part I can actually understand. But the publicity (never enough) and the sales (I am not a marketer, though I have the email newsletter and the web site) and the readings (do they really make a difference?)--I can't really focus on the career part. I have a feeling things are going to change in some big way and then come together in another. The market is changing, publishing is changing. But I am not an agent or an editor. I am a writer, and my first and only true job is to write.
So I don't think about my career with a list that fits onto depression. Maybe you could call it avoidance or denial--or maybe I am simply, now, at this point, detached. My career is there. What to feed her next is the question.
Causes Jessica Inclán Supports
Women for Women International Goodwill Industries Lindsey Wildlife Museum Freecycle.org