INTRO: All writers can be insecure, even authors who have a publishing press. Kamy Wicoff is the founder of She Writes and She Writes Press. She is here today to tell us about her writing insecurity. Her story is one that will resonate with so many. Please help me welcome her!
Last spring, my first novel, Wishful Thinking, came out. For six months I lived the Writer-with-a-capital-W life, touring the country giving readings, begging book clubs to have me, doing some interviews and speaking on a few panels, and, of course, obsessively checking Amazon. And then it was over. It was time. I had to get back to work, to be a writer-with-a-small-w again, working alone.
Initially I was thrilled. I was exhausted from hocking my book to anyone who would listen, and the faint taint of humiliation that comes from constantly selling yourself had long overstayed its welcome. Ah, to be back at the art again! To immerse myself in a world of my creation, taking dictation from my characters and barreling through a story, rather than struggling to be heard in a crowded marketplace, hammering away at inane social media I could care less about!
So I sat down. And nothing came.
It’s now been another six months. Still nothing.
I am terrified.
So I sat down. And nothing came.
It’s now been another six months. Still nothing.
I am terrified.
I have only published two books in my life (the “only” depends on your perspective, of course, and right now, without an idea in sight, it is how I feel) – the first was nonfiction, and the second was a novel. Between the nonfiction book and the novel, there were several years where I was fairly sure I’d never write again. But I had some good excuses. I went through a painful divorce. I had very young children. I didn’t want to write another memoir, and had never written fiction and had no idea if I could. When the idea for my novel came to me it was like a bolt from the blue, a lifeline from the gods of creativity to a new way of being a writer that I was sure was the right one at last. I’d never written a novel before, and I wrote one I was proud of. Surely now there would be no more dry spells. Surely now I had found my groove.
The thing is, writing, for me, anyway, doesn’t work like that. I know lots of writers who start the next book before the last book has even come out. (I am Facebook friends with a lot of them, unfortunately for my ego.) But I have spent the last several months trying to make peace with the fact that that isn’t me. It’s hard. It’s scary. I have told myself that by reading, journaling, living life and focusing on my business (I am the founder of SheWrites.com and its publishing arm, She Writes Press), I am “filling the well,” preparing myself in ways I can’t understand now for whatever it is I’m going to write later. But it is very hard to have faith, to be a writer and not be writing. Can I say I am a writer during the times when I don’t write at all?
An age-old question, I know. The muse is fickle, and more likely to visit when we are not chasing her. But it’s hard to wait without panicking that I may be waiting forever.
So I ask you: what do you do in the in-between, when inspiration doesn’t come yet? I’d love to know. I’ve got some time to kill.
Thank you, Kamy, for being our guest today!
Kamy Wicoff is the bestselling author of the novel Wishful Thinking and the nonfiction book I Do But I Don’t: Why The Way We Marry Matters. She is the founder of one of the world’s largest communities for women writers, www.shewrites.com, with 27,000 members worldwide. She is also the founder, with Brooke Warner, of She Writes Press, a “third way” publisher leading the way in creating alternative publishing companies for authors. Kamy serves on the board of Girls Write Now, a New York City nonprofit that pairs high school girls with professional women writers as their mentors.
To learn more, visit: www.kamywicoff.com.
This really resonated with me. I "only" recently published my first book, which is an adult humor/advice book full of tidbits for the discriminating reader based on my real life experiences. The marketing is so exhausting that I don't know if I even consider myself a writer.
Earlier I would wait for inspiration to visit me, but nowadays I write and Inspiration has no choice but to drop in for a visit.
I always have ideas but sometimes once I start to put the story down the ideas start to fall apart or fall short on essential conflict. That really slows me down. It's is comforting to hear a successful author say it's hard for all of us in one way or another.
Great post - it's terrifying when those ideas don't seem big enough or good enough or don't exist at all. I tend to read, read, read, listen to music and people watch. Those generally fill me back up :)
You just described me! I started my second book right after my first came out, but there are some large gaps between the second, third, and fourth ones. I didn't think an idea would hit me either.
Guess what? One will hit you!
Wonderful post! Those gaps can be painful. I find that my house gets really clean and rearranged during those times. I've also learned to take a step back from it all and do things that inspire me like watching movies and reading good books and taking a road trip. :)
One will hit when you least expect it. My issue is I can't get them all done, damn ideas won't stop popping in lol I know, such a bad issue to have, right? Oh and I loathe marketing.
Since I run a publishing company, I'm really busy helping my authors in between my own book projects. Keeps me out of trouble.
Thank you for being our guest, Kamy! I knew so many would appreciate your post and feel the same way.
This is really inspirational. It reinforces a lot of what Janet Reid said about playing the waiting game. Waiting for responses to query letters? Write. Waiting for responses agent pitches? Write. Waiting for final printing/shipping? Write. I find a REALLY lousy job helps with my motivation. Thanks again for sharing your experiences. It is truly helpful.
To my credit I have several short story publications; but no book. I used to spend all my time writing; now its difficult to motivate myself to edit things languishing on the computer. I have ideas and even sketch a few out, but no serious (even small w) writing sessions.
Yep, I miss the obsession!!
I can appreciate that slip and fall into the doldrums. I have never published anything, but have had the honor(?) of writing blog posts that were funny enough to end up on paid-for sites. An alert and concerned friend helped me with that! Dealing with the loss of someone close to me, and then my beloved cat this year, has been hard too. Not that I haven't had ideas, I just wonder if they're good enough. I flail away on the computer for a while, and try to get back into the rhythm I once had. As Nikki McCormack, a wonderful writer and Author who has published several books, once said to me, as I was posting in #IWSG, "Are there any SECURE writers? BUHAHAHAHA!" Point taken. That's why we all flock to Alex. <3
A lot of my ideas come FROM journaling, or scene storming, using a couple of words. If I force myself to sit down and write 500 words about anything, it seems that often "anything" becomes "something." I've never had a book published and at this moment, in spite of finished drafts, I don't feel confident that I will. But as long as I can write something, I think my mind will be at peace. Wishing you confidence and forward movement.
For those of us still on the unpublished side of things, is encouraging to see that even published authors have questions and concerns. I've been trudging slowly through the query process (semi half-heartedly after initial rejections) and want so bag to just sit down and crank out some chapters of my next project. Grad school keeps getting in the way...so instead I scribble little ideas in a journal. Stuff that's not novel size or quality but could be short story fodder. I stalk various blogs and post my own book reviews and short stories occasionally. And I read as much as I have time for.
"So I ask you: what do you do in the in-between, when inspiration doesn’t come yet?"
I write about what is making it so darn difficult to write. There's lots of rants about a multitude of family members and their two-cent quirks that seem to annoy the h--- out of me.
I do other creative things. I knit and make jewelry and those always motivates me to be creative with writing.
Helping others achieve their writing goals takes a LOT of stamina and perseverance. So, maybe that is where your writing creativity is going. My writing projects take about 3 years to complete (and I'm an older than average writer), but one resource that consistently gets me writing can be found on Facebook -- Ten Minute Novelists. For we are all busy and sometimes that ten minutes is all we have. I continually surprise myself by making progress when I least expect it, simply by writing that ten minutes, which then spins out to 20 or more. So, be kind to yourself. Nurture that inner muse. Know that the words will return.
Right now we're trying to sell our house, so you can imagine how well my writing is going. However, at the same time I'm getting ready for my 3rd book to be released November 1. I think my head is spinning. When life gets back to some sense of normal, I'll get back to reading. I love reading. Nothing inspires me more than a well-written novel.
Do what inspires you most. Gardening, walking, exploring new places, are a few of the things that inspire me. And above all, read. We all must read to write. Remind yourself of the many you've inspired with She Writes and give your muse a wink, let her know you'll be there when she's ready :-)
Reading a good novel always gets me fired up and off I go, ready to write! What lands on the page? Well that's another topic for another time.
Big thanks to Kamy for sharing her honest feelings and experiences about things. I agree that accepting our weaknesses and making peace with them is key. I think I'm just starting to accept that no matter how fast my CPs are at writing books, I'll never write more than one a year. Wishing/planning to write more just leads to disappointment. Great article!
Great post, great comments. It is scary, after reading how everyone on Facebook writes ten books a year and hits bestseller lists constantly. We are so hard on ourselves, doing the comparison thing. But we're each walking our own path, and you're doing exactly what you should be doing at this moment. When the time comes, you'll be ready, if you're gentle with yourself now and do what feels right.
Something will come, be sure of it. In the meantime play with ideas ...
give me time and give me corner and i will not disappoint you with my hand trying in writing
I know I"m late to the party, but this really resonated with me and I believe it does with a lot of other writers. Published or not, we all have those times when the Muse is there, feeding us ideas, giving us a life-blood of inspiration. I have two rough drafts that I finished in a matter of DAYS and I thought, "Yes! This is IT!" and then...nothing. Nada. The well dried up and I'm left with two rough drafts that need some serious work and no inspiration to deal with them. But I keep writing, I keep telling myself that if I plow through the dry times the rain will come. Keep an ear to the heavens. You will hear thunder again. Just be ready when the lightening strikes!
Thanks for sharing,
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