Some days (most days) I want to stop writing.
To be honest, I’m not where I thought I’d be. I don’t know if I could have told you point-blank what I thought I’d be doing at 31 years old, but I had a few ideas. Married with kids, probably a stay-at-home mom, writing, a book (or two) published. But I have none of those things. I’m single, living alone, working 40+ hours a week. Writing-wise, I have a hell of a lot of rejections, no agent, and a huge heaping hole that hope once filled.
I’m not writing this for sympathy. I’m not writing this for anyone’s encouragement. I’m writing this as a confession because it’s hard for me sometimes to come to terms with this. It’s hard for me to keep writing when all I can see in front of me is more rejections, another discarded novel, ideas piling up, time and energy spent on doing what I love without the chance of it going out there into the world for everyone to enjoy.
I feel like I don’t have the time because I have a full-time job and have to work every day and when I get home and on the weekends the last thing I want to do is work on a novel. I feel like every time I see another 16-year-old or 20-year-old or early-20-something with their debut, second, third, fourth novels, that I’ve missed my window. I’m too old, too busy, too — something.
Then I go and stumble across this awesome infographic that shows the ages of great authors when they published their greatest work, and in general, most are over 30. There are outliers, and this isn’t necessarily debut books, but it’s still more hopeful than I expected.
Suddenly I am filled with a mix of hope and embarrassment. Hope that there’s still (and always is) a chance. Embarrassment because I’m complaining and whining and feeling sorry for myself. But an instant later it’s replaced with the feeling of “oh, but that was in the past and today it’s different” and I get frustrated and hope fades away all over again.
Not to mention, those stats aren’t YA. If it was a YA list, it would skew the other direction. The YA world is filled with young women who are publishing under the age of 30. And right now, I’m writing YA. The hardest thing for me is to pick up a debut YA novel and see the author bio and think, “that should have been me 5 years ago.” Those are the moments when I truly want to stop and give up.
I’m not going to give up. At least, not right now. I might stop reading YA (I’m trying, I’m really, really trying). I might even stop writing YA after my current WIP.
But I’m not going to stop writing.
It’s just so hard. I love to write. People say, “why does it matter if you’re not published; if you love to write, write” and I understand that perspective but it doesn’t work for me. I’m not the type of person who never wants her writing read. I want it read. I want everyone to read it. I want to read praises and criticisms. I want to see a book with my name on the spine on the shelf at Barnes & Noble. I want bloggers talking about it, quoting it. I want to know that people are reading it. I want to know that people love it (and maybe even that people hate it).
I think there are a lot of writers who don’t care if they never get published, that their writing is for them and maybe for their friends and family. I’m not one of those writers. I don’t want it to be a solitary act. I don’t want to keep doing this over and over and over again and have nothing public to show for it.
Maybe this is selfish or egotistical. Maybe I’m not supposed to want this so badly. But I can’t change that. Yes, I love writing and no, I don’t see myself giving it up, but with every rejection and every time I read a badly written but published novel, and every time I have to start all over again, and every time I hear of another young debut author, and every time I don’t have an agent or the prospect of one, I kind of just don’t want to do this any more.
I don’t want to be an unpublished writer for my entire life.