Monday, October 24, 2011
Monday Motivation - On disappointment
"If I could only get a large advance and a big marketing push, then..."
"If I could only get some starred reviews, then..."
"If I could only make some lists, then..."
Then, I wouldn't feel so disappointed.
Sometimes it feels like disappointment is a writer's best friend.
I will not lie. When B&N decided to skip The Day Before, I was pretty disappointed. I knew that meant sales would be affected in a big way. And they have been.
Readers, for the most part, have enjoyed the book. It's also on some YALSA nomination lists, though I'm trying not to get my hopes up. I've had other books on these nomination lists in years past, and they didn't make the final cut. My YA novels thus far are this strange breed of verse, which not everyone likes in the first place, paired with a more commercial story. I think some people like their verse, if they like it at all, much more literary. Sometimes, I don't think reviewers or other professionals "get" what I'm trying to do with these books. And at some point, when that happens, you just have to shrug your shoulders and go, oh well. My reader e-mails tell me there are lots of teens who DO get them, and that's what I try to focus on.
Anyway, there are a hundred ways to be disappointed and discouraged in this business. At least. I could easily be discouraged right now because sales haven't been what I'd hoped they'd be for The Day Before.
But do I feel washed up? Like my career is over? No way. And here's why.
Each book is separate and distinct from the one before it. Each book is a new opportunity. I write each book with hope that good things will happen! Because why not?
Do you think Kate DiCamillo knew which of her books would become movies and which ones wouldn't? Do you think she could predict which ones would become Newbery winners and which ones wouldn't? No. She had no idea. She just wrote the best book she could each time, and then released it out into the world, and waited, like any other author, to see what would happen.
My next YA novel, not out until 2013, will be completely different. I'm trying something new, and with that, I have a new sense of hope that good things might happen. Onward and upward, I say!
My strategy for keeping disappointment at bay is pretty simple:
1) Keep writing. With each book, try to improve. Play to my strengths while at the same time, be open to trying new and different things. Sometimes changing it up a little bit is the best thing a person can do.
2) Do not compare myself to others. Some days, this is SO hard. But really, there is no way that will end well. I have to focus on me and my books and let everyone else do what they do well. I read a lot partly because it's a way to love authors I might otherwise be envious of. :)
3) Remember there are many ways to define success, and numbers are only one way. If you haven't, I encourage you to read this great post by Erin Murphy on the Shrinking Violet's blog.
We can't let disappointment get the best of us. I battle it by writing a new book and keeping hope alive.
I'm curious. How do you battle it?