Diary of a New Writer – 9 Brace For Impact

(For previous Diary entries check here.)

This was the most difficult of all my diary entries to write.  It’s a very personal post and one that I hope prepares some of you for the unexpected consequences of writing and publishing your first novel.  This is not meant to be discouraging but it is realistic.  When you write and publish your book, you might not get the reaction you expect.  Not from the marketplace and not from your loved ones.  For those of you who’ve already gone through this, I’d welcome you to share your experiences in the comments.  Ok.  Deep breath.

I had created this thing.  This story I was so proud of.  I enjoyed writing it.  I enjoyed reading it.  It was the kind of book I’d buy for myself.  It had taken months to perfect.  It was time to get the word out.  The truth is, even with exhaustive marketing, it is tough to sell books.  In fact, buried among all the other titles available in today’s market, it will be a miracle if anyone even finds your book.  Sure you could spam the crap out of Twitter, Facebook and so forth.  Tell me how many books caught your attention that way.   …  Right, me neither.  Don’t be discouraged.  It’s going to take time.  You will not be an overnight success.  If instant sales are important to you, consider doing some paid advertising.  But please don’t tell me you are only in it for the money.

Here’s the rest of the story:  Three Empty Frames was published at the end of June, 2015.  There it was! Out there for everyone to read.  I made a few early sales!  Woo hoo!  I announced it to my friends on Facebook and Instagram.  Surprise!  Apparently, not everyone is going to care that you wrote a book.  Even worse, your family and friends might even think you’re crazy.  Especially if you already have a day job, like me.  (If you are a writer by profession and just starting out, that might be different.)

You know what?  I am totally struggling with how to put this into words.  I don’t want to make my friends who read this uncomfortable and I don’t want to come off as a whiner either.  (I really hate whining!)  Oh, who am I kidding, none of my real world friends are reading this blog anyway.  And that’s kind of the point of this article.  I really thought more people would be at least mildly interested in the fact that I wrote a novel!  (This does not apply to a small group of my dear friends who were just as excited about the book as I was; they know this isn’t about them!)

But in general, hardly anyone asked me about it.  Some who did would whisper to me, “I heard you wrote a book,” like it was a secret I was ashamed of.  Like, “I heard you have toenail fungus.  I’m so sorry.”  Being a writer is not embarrassing, come on!  Could it be that no one thought I could possibly be any good?  Or was it, “Oh, she’s only self published,”  with a snort and an eye roll, kind of thing?  I’ll never know, because I will not ask.  In fact, I’ve come to terms with it largely because I did ask the question in a safe place:  a writer’s forum.

I was amazed to find out how many other writers experience the same responses from their friends and family.  I will recreate that conversation here, without the names:

My question:  How do your friends/family feel about your writing? Since writing is not my day job, it seems like nobody is really taking it seriously. It kind of hurts that no one seems to care that I’m doing this. I’m trying to not be oversensitive but it’s bumming me out. Anyone else have that experience?

Here are some answers:

J:  I don’t really talk to my family about my writing–I’ve been writing since I was a kid, so they know I like doing it and that’s all they need to know. I talk about writing with my friends, but my real life friends aren’t writers, so there’s only so much they want to hear about it. It doesn’t matter if people in your life don’t take it seriously. Do you take it seriously? Will you pursue it no matter what they say? Is it something you enjoy? Also, make some writing friends. It’ll help you out tons if you have some people who understand what you go through

L:  It’s pretty common, I think. My family supports me on a superficial level, but they don’t understand what it takes to put a novel together. Keep in touch with your writing tribe — we understand.

S:  My family and friends roll their eyes even after my 4th book got published

R:  My family and spouse are all hugely supportive. Most friends too. I did have a friend who I shared a writing frustration with (she asked how it was going and I went beyond “fine”). She told me “good thing it’s just a hobby.” She meant to make me feel better. By then I had contracted with an agent and had a book on submission to pub houses. I was beyond hobby. I told her as much, kindly, but it was always awkward after that.

D:  Hi Meg–I’d be lying if I said that writing isn’t a lonely place. You’re going to come to find that no one in your life is as interested in your writing as you are. And that’s okay! Because there are loads of us out there who understand exactly what you are going through right now, and we’re here for you. And we care about your writing. We know what goes into it: the heartache, the tears. We know how hard it is when a loved one seems disinterested. Try not to take it personally. People who don’t write aren’t as interested in writing because they have no way of knowing how much goes into it and why it’s so truly important to us. We get it though, Meg. We’re with you. You are so, SO not alone in this!!!

Some fabulous advice there.  Yes, being a writer is a lonely endeavor.  Unless you quickly make it to the best seller list, it will likely be your experience too.  Remember that your blogging buddies and writing group pals will understand.  Join forums, find other writers and make friends.  These are the people who will relate to your struggles, help when you need advice, give you a kick in the butt when you’re moping and rejoice with you when you succeed!  My door is always open for anyone who needs it.  As a new writer, I might not have all the answers but I promise I’ll listen!

Next time:  How blogging fits into the picture.




35 thoughts on “Diary of a New Writer – 9 Brace For Impact

  1. Thanks for sharing this, Meg! Self promotion is such an awkward thing, especially when you get responses like that. I think most people assume that anyone can write a novel, that it’s just a matter of sitting down and a seamless, beautiful novel just pops out. They don’t realize the amount of time it takes to edit, revise, and rewrite. At the end of the day you’ve done something that billions of people will leave unfinished on their bucket lists. That is something to be proud of!

    Liked by 3 people

  2. I totally understand this. My friends and family have always loved the fact I write, but only a select few of them (other writers) have actually taken my revamped ambition seriously (one of them reminded me, bluntly, that this was my career path, which helped put things into perspective). Only until recently, I’d fallen into a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy where I also didn’t take my writing as seriously as I’d really wanted to deep down inside. If I didn’t have a tight-knit community of friends who also write, I think I’d still treat what I do as just something…well, frivolous…hobby-like…and that’s not what I want.

    Anyway, thanks for posting this. I get you! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Great post! Writers are such an awesome group. I do not consider myself a writer (which a writer told me is one of the hallmarks of being a writer). After starting my blog I have gained a TREMENDOUS amount of respect for you and your tribe! xo Whitney

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Great post. Thank you for your honesty. Some Indie writers have stopped by my blog and asked why I haven’t self published yet. What am I waiting for? Yet, when I ask how their book sales are going, their answers are vague. I am so familiar with the eye rolls and polite smiles. Most of my friends think writing a novel is stringing sentences together for 400 pages and that’s it. And when I talk about writing their response are usually, “that’s nice.” I moved from Facebook to blogging to spend my time with like minded people. We can inspire, encourage, and most importantly, understand each other. I am here for you as well. We write because we want to be heard. So, we must keep writing, no matter how lonely it feels. (That is why I chose my moniker). Wishing you all the best.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I get enough silence in my rejection letters. Any feedback as long as its not destructive feedback that you see on Facebook and Twitter, is good. And blogging is wonderful. It brought us together and we understand our woes. I don’t feel as lonely…wait my eyes are tearing. lol We will prevail..
        Keep writing, I will keep reading.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Looking for some inspiration bedtime read before I end my day and I’m glad I stumbled upon this treasure! Thank you for such a well written piece.

    Just want to tell you I enjoyed it very much.


  6. The first thing which I observed when your page loaded is: The header image. This one has two divers which aren’t visible from a distance!

    You are using wonderful header images 🙂

    I laughed reading this:

    Some who did would whisper to me, “I heard you wrote a book,” like it was a secret I was ashamed of. Like, “I heard you have toenail fungus. I’m so sorry.”

    I have a question: Have you always used two spaces after every sentence? If so, why am I observing this now? How common is this? I have heard some authors using it. 🙂

    I really liked reading it, especially the part where you mock yourself beautifully! Not taking yourself too seriously is the key–not just writing but anything–because then you are near Truth.

    Since it is useful advice for many of us I have shared it on social media. Thank you so much 🙂

    Love and light ❤

    Anand 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I owe you thanks for referring me to pixabay for their wonderful selection of images! I try to keep this diary light-hearted, after all, I am still learning as I go! Don’t want to pretend I’m an expert or anything! Not only that, I think some of the things I talk about aren’t the usual writer advice, like this post for instance. I do tend to use 2 spaces after each sentence; that’s how I was taught in school, way back when. I’m really glad you’re enjoying it and thank you for sharing! Love and light!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh these posts are really nice and pixabay is such a nice repository. I observed only now your two spaces. It’s nice to give two spaces. I will also start doing it. Thanks 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Sorry for leaving such a short comment, I was inspired quite suddenly and had to go hit a keyboard. This post was really thought provoking. I remember the first time I wrote something, expecting the jaw to literally drop off everyone who saw it. Now I’ve grown apprehensive through experience.

      If I do talk to a non-writer about something I wrote, I tend to ignore their feedback. This isn’t out of pompousness or vanity. I just don’t feel like anyone who isn’t a writer or stranger can summon the necessary impartiality to give an honest criticism. “If you don’t have imaginary friends of your own, how do you know mine lack depth?”

      Liked by 2 people

  7. It’s reassuring to know this is a general thing and I’m not just cursed.

    I do have a few very supportive friends, but then again some of my best IRL friends are also writers. On the plus side, I got some excellent help when I asked friends/family for feedback on my drafts.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, the writers on the forum? That thread had over 40 responses. All telling a similar story: a few close friends and family members supportive, everyone else treating you like a leper! I’ve learned to be selective about sharing my writing life.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I’m doing everything under a pseudonym so I don’t have to worry about family and friends. That way I can disconnect the writer from me, kind of like having two personalities. Gives me a lot of artistic freedom because I’m pretty sure no one I know will ever read my stuff.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. This is a great post. The honesty is refreshing. Friends and family are wonderful for many things in life. But, I’ve found accurate criticism is not one of them. They’re either too nice, so as not to hurt your feelings; or they are brutal, in order to toughen you up for the “real world.” Meg—if you’ve sold even one book to a complete stranger—to me that is success! You’ve broken through the fraternal/familial barrier. Well done!

    Liked by 1 person

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