As an author, sometimes you have a really good week. You have a new book come out, you get great reviews, and you actually have both the time to write and the inspiration to do so.
Sometimes, things just suck, and you wallow.
This last week was supposed to be a banner week for me. I have a new release, part of an anthology, and it’s getting really good reviews.
And yet, I find myself in the middle of an existential writer crisis.
It’s not any one big thing, and not even a couple medium-sized things. Instead it’s a bunch of little things that have conspired to make me question my writing ability.
The reviews for the anthology are good, and most people like my story. A few of them even love it. But some say they just couldn’t connect with my characters. I know – this happens. Not every reader will love your work. But this is a particularly emotional, significant story for me, and so the reviewer who was left cold by it just shredded my confidence.
I also just completed a novella for another anthology, and thought it was pretty solid – good characters, great plot. Then my first beta came back, from a writer whom I trust implicitly, and again, the characters didn’t connect with her.
Couple this with the fact that I have no time for anything at the moment, let alone writing. Then throw in a few other zingers, and I am left sitting here in my writer cave, questioning both my writing skills and the ability find an audience that will stick with me.
A part of me knows this bunk. It’s all tied into my writer ego – it’s been bruised by this confluence of events, and it will heal. But a long conversation with a writer friend suggested something else to me as well. Several somethings, actually.
The first is that I need to do some work on my craft, especially my characterization. My characters aren’t drawn clearly enough, in my own head or on the page, and readers sense this. This has come up too many times to be a fluke.
The second thing is that I might not be a romance writer.
I write a lot of stories that include romance, but I’ve never been a romance reader. My friend pointed out that me trying to write romance was like her trying to play rugby. It’s gonna be a car crash. Or at the very least, an inartistic mess.
I could sit down and read lots of romances to teach myself how the genre is done, but my heart’s just not in it. Or I could stop trying to shoehorn my writing style into the romance box and let it be what it is.
I love science fiction. I love fantasy. I even love contemporary magical realism. I can keep writing these things (with a little improvement, and put them where readers who love those things too can find them.
For today, I wallow. I’m eating ice cream and sleeping in late and bawling my eyes out.
Tomorrow, I’ll get up and try it all again.
My question today: What do you do when writing gets you down in the dumps?