On a More Serious Note

I’ve been thinking about this post for a while. I was afraid to write it because it’s just so serious but that’s not necessarily a bad thing, is it? (I dunno, I kinda like pictures of dinosaurs myself.)

So I have  a confession: whenever I read about someone down here in the trenches with us getting a really awesome publishing deal, a little piece of me dies temporarily.

Why the hoo-hey is that?

It really made me feel guilty for a while. It wasn’t out of jealousy. Not in the way that I would take their success from them. That’s not fair, and I’ve really come to cheer on and support my fellow bloggers. I didn’t know exactly what it was until last week. Thursday night I was cleaning the kitchen. Mr. Atkins was nearby, and all these thoughts I’d been stewing over finally broke free. I rambled on to him about this strange reaction, and it turned into a helpful conversation. But here’s how it first went:

I confessed my temporary inner-death at someone else’s book(s) announcement. Then I went on to say how this publishing industry is just. so. scary. It’s not like if you get one book, you’re guaranteed a second. I’ve always had it in my head that I will continue to write even if I never get published. But if I could earn money for my writing, then it could be my job, and it wouldn’t have to be my hobby that would sometimes get pushed to the side for the more demanding things like a job and a family (I’m not sure if that makes sense?). (I think at this point Mr. Atkins stopped trying to offer suggestions/comments and decided listening was the best course of action.) I know, I know, if it’s important enough, you’ll make time for it. BUT. Life happens. Kids will happen sometime in the future. And our hot water heater will break. And we’ll have to go to the hospital. And we’ll have dance recitals to attend. And family dinner to make every. single. night. I’m excited for these things, but I’m so afraid my hobbies, my passions, my interests will fall to the wayside. I can’t let that happen, obviously. Which is why I’m working so hard now to ensure that writing is something I cannot be happy without!

After talking too quickly for too long, it dawned on me why I get so disheartened at publishing announcements: they remind me how very far I am from that possibility. I have two books in the works: one I’m on the second draft, the other the first. I have another idea that is clamoring to be written, but it needs to kindly wait its turn, thankyouverymuch. Sparks (as it is currently titled) will need more than two drafts, obviously. And when I finally feel like it’s ready, I’ll have to write a query letter and try to perfect that. And continue doing research on agents to stalk query. And then, if I land an agent, going on submission, and from there, and so on, and on and on, etc., ad infinitum.

It can sound overwhelming, all strung out like that. I can’t think about it that way, not all the time. If I break it into bites-sized morsels (bitter or sweet, depending on the day), I breathe easier and know that I can, in fact, do this.

So I need a plan! I need a goal. I’m making one now:


There you have it. My goal. Polish a manuscript to where I feel it’s ready, and throw it out into the world. Well, to carefully selected agents’ hands.

I feel better already!

Dance party at my place!

What about this publishing industry most scares you, and what are you doing to defeat it?

Posted by

I write speculative fiction inspired by mythos from around the world, complex family dynamics, and my own experiences living with mental illness. After earning my BA in Linguistics from Brigham Young University in 2008, I received my MFA in Creative Writing from Converse College in 2012. I live in Denver, where my husband and I spend countless hours chasing our three young sons (and sometimes catching them!). I collect tarot decks, dye my hair mermaid colors, and procrastinate by decorating my home. My debut novel, Feathers Sharp as Knives, releases on May 2, 2023.

9 thoughts on “On a More Serious Note

  1. These numbers aren’t totally accurate, but their reasonably sufficient to make a point, or at least post a reply:

    In conversation with a real, live publisher several years ago, I was told that in 1959, 5,000 titles were published in the US. In 2008, something like 75,000 titles were published.

    And yet, it is likely more difficult to get published now as then. Go figure. And, when you have figured, please let the rest of us in on the dealio.


  2. I’ve felt like this, too. It’s good to hear I’m not crazy (or that we both are). On another note, I think it’s great that you managed to draft two books while working and going to school. Good luck!

    1. Well, I was halfway through my first draft of Sparks when I started grad school, and I just couldn’t bring myself to put it away for two whole years. And Red Sky is my thesis, so drafting it has been my job, so to speak. Good luck to you too! We all need and deserve it.

  3. I’m struggling with this right now! It’s like you said: real life getting in the way makes me feel like I’m so far away from my goal. It’s been particularly bad lately since my grad school classes are very intense this semester, and will be next semester as well since that will be my last one. I feel like if I could pick two of three (work, school, writing), I would be fine, but until then I really fear for my writing productivity, and wonder how much worse it will be if/when I get married, have kids, etc.

    There are a few things I remind myself of in these moments:

    1. Little bits at a time go a long way. There’s always a point mid-first draft where I feel like it’s taking so long for the story to get anywhere and I’ll never finish. I focus on fulfilling my modest weekly quota and before I know it, I’m done. (Of course, then I still have to revise…)

    2. Plenty of people have been in this situation and triumphed. I doubt they all had magical, boring lives where they could write without distraction. I don’t need to be super-human, and they aren’t either.

    3. It’s never too late. As much as I’d like to be published within a certain timeframe, it’ll never be too late to try if I don’t succeed at first. How many stories are there of authors getting 67 rejections, or trying for 40 years before attaining publication?

    It’s useless to worry about things that may or may not come to pass, as easy as it is to do. So, set your goal (which is also my goal!) and work toward it as hard as you can. If life gets in the way, just adjust the plan!

    1. You are so right. Worrying does nothing good. Setting goals and working towards them are the anti-thesis (theses?) of worrying. I sometimes feel so hurried because of all the publishing blogs, but there is no rush. Thanks for you great points. :)

  4. Love that gif.

    I know what you mean… I don’t know if it’s the “never getting published AGAIN” so much as it is the “no editor wants this first book, and I can never pitch it again.” Because I love this book SO. MUCH. And I have so much faith in it. And if it was banned from ever seeing the light of day (a.k.a. readers’ book shelves) I don’t know what I’d do.


    So I figured, "Hey. I should probably just make this book so awesome no one can reject it."

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s