I was reading an article written by my Rabbi in our Temple bulletin. He was writing about the balance between conceit and humility. We can’t achieve success without ambition, but arrogance can be isolating. “We deserve to be proud of our accomplishments, but we can also be honest about our failings.”
This struck a chord with me. As a children’s author, when I’m posting on social media, I typically share my positive news. Sometimes it feels weird, like I’m bragging. But many of my social media peeps who are not in the business of children’s books may not understand that I NEED to share the good news because there is so much in publishing that is disheartening: the rejection, the waiting, the lack of control traditionally published authors of picture books have, the waiting. And did I mention the waiting? It is often uncomfortable for me to have to ask others to come to my book signings, to tell or write about my good news whether on Facebook or face to face. But I’m not sure those reading or listening understand the balance I seek when I do that. There is so much behind the scenes that is negative, that it is imperative for my psyche to share any good news with the world to tilt the scales. I’m teetering on a slippery slope.
Being an author has innumerable joys, but so many disappointments…contracts that never materialized, nonresponding editors, lack of sales, less than perfect reviews, the years it can take from manuscript to published book. I have two examples of fairly recent major disappointments. One was when I finally had interest in a nonfiction story very special to me. I was over the moon when the editor said the story gave her goosebumps. It took months to find the right illustrator. And then almost a year later when all the sketches were drawn the editor told me the illustrations weren’t right and it made her realize this book wasn’t for her. My hope dove off a cliff.
My next example of disappointment was when I saw the pictures that they chose to use with my first e-book, Hip-Hopping Books, which went live May 2015.
It is part of a digital library that schools subscribe to. It’s an amazing resource, and I’m grateful my story will be shared with the elementary students who will benefit from learning about genres. But I was expecting fun clever illustrations, not stock photos. Knot-in-the throat type crushed describes how I first felt when I saw the final e-book. I try not to stay focused on any of these initial feelings of sadness and move on, instead focusing on the positives.
I’m happy that I have been blessed with this amazing second career. I am thrilled with any and all successes. I’m grateful that I have an opportunity to continue touching lives. I just wanted to let you know that I also have hours of self-doubt, feeling frustrated and unhappy with the pace of publishing and the consistent dismissal of my efforts. (Though writers are advised not to take rejection personally…it is the manuscript they rejected, not you!…that has not always worked on my 1115-plus rejections.) But I won’t be writing about that on Facebook, unless of course, it’s a positive rejection that brings with it a reason for hope. I do find, however, that Twitter is a more anonymous atmosphere and I feel comfortable to Tweet about a rejection that has filled my inbox. And when those lovely reviews or reports of positive sales happen, I am very aware that I wouldn’t have successes without the help of others. My critique groups, publishers, illustrators, family, and friends lift me up, up, up, until acceptance of this business and the happiness zone has been entered. I hope by sharing my reality, others might have a better understanding of the life of an author. So now is when I was ready to share my good news with you. A publisher inquired about acquiring what will be my fourth picture book…back in November! I have been waiting patiently to share this. But there have been a few setbacks regarding finding the right illustrator and so I can not yet officially announce. Of course, I wanted those sketches started yesterday!
Thanks to Writers’ Rumpus for being a place to share our writing lives…our dreams, our failures, our disappointments, our successes. I’m rooting for us all!
Carol, your post is more timely and helpful to me than you know. It gives me some hope at a time that I really need it. Thanks!
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I hope that doesn’t mean what I think it means. Which makes me realize that as much as I hate waiting, I hate rejection even more!
Carol, thanks so much for being honest and sharing the less encouraging aspects of your efforts. It does indeed help to know that we are all going through it! I look forward to your good news when it’s official.
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What a wonderful post. Thanks for sharing your experiences.
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Thanks, Kirsti. It’s nice having you travel the path with me! Connecting with great writing peeps make the journey sweeter.
Thanks Carol, for a thoughtful and hopeful post. It’s always good for me to remember that I’m not the only one getting rejections….thrilled for you with the new contract 🙂