Sometimes I think I don't really want to be published at all. I read the horror stories about publishing and publicity, reviews and remainders, and I wonder why I'm doing this at all. What is so important to me about seeing my fiction published? Why am I sitting here praying just to be shortlisted for the contest I entered my novel in?

It's not because I think people who look at me as a loser will realize I'm not. A friend wisely pointed out once that people who think you're a loser will always find ways to see you that way. You put 20 books on the midlist, you're not good enough to crack the NYT Bestseller list. You crack the NYT list, and they're lowering their standards.

I think it's some combination of wanting to make people stop and think, and to feel that there is more to life than cleaning my house and changing diapers. I'm a big-picture person; I have to have a long view in order to function. My day-to-day life right now is so mundane that to be able to enjoy it, I need to feel like I'm making a difference. Writing does that.

So why do I want to be published? I guess it's just a big-picture version of the satisfaction I derive from folks who tell me nice things about my published works. Is it necessary? I don't know. I'm too tired to think about it right now. And there's a diaper that needs changing.

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Comment by Christa M. Miller on April 6, 2007 at 12:40pm
Thanks, one and all. Not sure about the sheer number of "crap" comments here, but I guess I started it with the diaper comment!

No, I don't have Itotallysuckitis... at least not right now. This was just something I've been musing about, off and on, whenever the kids are needy in stereo and I've got deadlines and am still trying to string together coherent fictional thought. Why does this matter so much? Why is it SO important to me? What's the big freaking deal?

A big part of it may be wanting to show my sons that they CAN succeed at their dreams, whatever they may be, if they work hard enough and want it badly enough. I was told too many times "you can't" (writing didn't pay enough, it wasn't rewarding enough)... lucky I'm stubborn, or I'd be miserable now. I don't want that for my kids. I don't care if their dream is to co-own a garage... if that's their passion, they should go for it.

Barbara, I loved your comment about high school. That's how I feel too! You are so right that the writing is the only thing we have any control over... though it does make me sad to think that maybe that isn't quite enough, anymore. You know?

Stephen, I feel like I have that dichotomy going on too... not caring about being validated, yet still wanting to be validated. It's so strange. I guess it just comes down to humans as social animals after all... we can be as introverted or as outcast as we want, but we still need to connect.
Comment by Stephen Blackmoore on April 5, 2007 at 8:14am
You're not coming down with a case of Totallysuckitis, are you? Apatheticosis? Whatsthepoint Fever?

I get what you're talking about. There's more to you than being a mother, though your children probably don't get it, yet. I have the same problem with my dog. Apparently my role in life is to keep him in kibble and belly rubs.

I ask myself the same question. I look at friends who are freaking out because their last book didn't do as well, and they're afraid they're going to get dropped and won't be able to pay the mortgage. I wonder if I want to go through all that brouhaha. It's not like I'm going to get groupies, and I'm certainly not going to get much money. I honestly don't see me ever not having a day job.

So far the answer is yes. But I think I'm less interested in validation from other people (like that's ever gonna happen - see "groupies: lack thereof") than the validation of accomplishing something that's difficult. It may sound trite, but when it comes down to it I'm not writing for anyone else but myself. At least until I have a contract.

That said, I still want a book out. I still want people to read it and tell me I'm Captain Fantastico or whatever the hell praise they can lavish my way. Preferably involving loads of cash and the aforementioned groupies. Like you, I want my life to be more than as some schmuck with a commute and mortgage.
Comment by Barbara Fister on April 5, 2007 at 1:53am
What I meant is the publishing part isn't in your control; the writing part is. Relatively speaking. Diapers do get in the way.
Comment by Barbara Fister on April 5, 2007 at 12:28am
Instead of a PhD you'd earn a ShT?

Christa, I have scratched my head a lot over this issue. I like writing but I hate the way I feel about myself when I start thinking about the business end of it. Like, during the week when a publisher was considering a manuscript of mine I would just about ... crap my pants? to keep it on thread ... every time the phone rang. Why does part of my brain act like a teenager who wants to be popular? I hated high school! And why, when I meet writers who are waaay more successful than I'll ever be at this business do I get the sense they're just as insecure as I am, always wanting more recognition? The fact is, when you tell stories, you want to tell them to someone. And it's reassuring when asked "who are you" to say "I'm a writer." But publishing has a lot of randomness involved in it. A senior editor at Little Brown once told me "editors are mostly wrong." They're guessing, and there's an accountant breathing down their neck which makes them flustered and stupid. So a lot of what happens has little to do with how great a writer you are; that part is not in your control.

The moral of the story: It's a crapshoot.

Badda bing.
Comment by Daniel Hatadi on April 4, 2007 at 6:26pm
This has been happening a lot to me lately. I'm thinking of become a professional scatologist.
Comment by Steven Torres on April 4, 2007 at 4:50pm
"your writing craps all over someone to change the diapers."

Comment by Daniel Hatadi on April 4, 2007 at 3:43pm
I'd rather be scared of failure than success. Christa, your writing craps all over mine. Keep at it and get it out there! Then you can pay someone to change the diapers.

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