Sunday, 3 October 2010

Weathering or when the going gets tough

If I've learnt anything in the last two years (hell, in my entire life) it's that as snow follows summer, the bad times follow the good. There is no escape from this fact.
Life cannot be a series of highs. But as hard as it is to manage the up's it's harder still to manage the downs.
I've spoken to a few other authors about this, rejections generally and some were rejected 100+ times before they got published.
Well done them for having the guts to stick at it.
I'm not sure I would have had such determination. A hundred rejections? How many would it take to make me, you, anyone, give up? How much is self-belief (I know I'm good at this and will keep going) and how much is self-delusion (I wouldn't admit that I'm rubbish and find a better way to spend my time).
I've picked this point up before but my agent takes about 1% of submissions on as clients (it may have been 0.1% actually, but let's be positive). Still, pretty crappy odds. Then I hear the average wage of an author is £7,000/year (about $10,500) which is probably what you'd earn stacking shelves at your local supermarket.
Why bother?
You want to be the next JK Rowlings, rich and famous beyond your wildest imaginings? Nope. Sorry but that wouldn't happen. Better just carry on buying those lottery tickets.
Your name up on the shelves? You'll be surprised how quickly your books come right off those shelves if they don't sell.
The parties? Nice, but not frequent enough and you spend them hanging onto your editor because you know no-one.
No. None of these things can be the reason. There is only one motivating force behind hopeless endeavours and that is LOVE. Hour after hour after hour. During the day, the night, the holidays. You will annoy all and everyone around you as you sneak off to type (like I'm doing now, on Sunday when I PROMISED I wouldn't), sit daydreaming at the dinner table, and feeling quite sick at times as the words just crash over the pages (or worse, the plot crashes) and it's just a mess. But you cannot stop (and there comes a point, quicker than you'd believe, when it's too late to stop).
Bizzarely, the writing is both source of the anxiety and its salvation. It's pure magic-time as you weave worlds out of nothing and bring to life heroes out of dream-smoke. Mere vague ideas become solid, iron-cast realities.
Don't worry, in the end, if it's any good or not. You love it and you wouldn't swap it for anything else in the world.


storyqueen said...

Great post, Sarwat.

I was thinking about this the other day, how the high points are do addicting....but it is the actually writing-of-the-book that keeps me coming back.


Kate said...

You're so right. It is love. Mind you I gave up trying to think logically about why I write. I just can't not!

N. R. Williams said...

Very true, nice post.
N. R. Williams, fantasy author

Katherine Roberts said...

I believe the average you quote is skewed by a few top earners - and the adjusted mean average is more like £4,000 a year (according to the last Society of Authors earnings survey).

Also, after 13 years of doing author accounts, my experience is that book earnings vary wildly year by year. You might earn £30,000 one year and £2,000 the next if the sales... or words... don't come.