I have discovered the wide, wide world of AuthorTube recently. It’s YouTube, but for novelists. Topics abound like Publishing, Plotting, Marketing, Writer’s Block, Bad/Good Advise and Tricks of the Trade.
(Yes I realize I’m behind the times but I am only a nublet novelist after all.)
So, as with every new and exciting endeavor, I dive in. The first channel I come to isn’t one of the “big channels” that have 350K subscribers and whatnot. It is a humble channel created by published Sci-Fi/Romance author Alexa Donne. She’s a lovely person who tells it like it is. I like the forthright honesty about her journey and how she humbly inserts her opinions about certain topics while not invalidating others who have differing ones. She’s a classy lady.
She also terrifies me.
Her words for me are like an ice cold bucket of water dumped on me after a nice hot soak in the sun on a breezy beach. Panic and disbelief grip me as I listen. I feel my brain slowly start to shut down the longer I linger on her channel. I reach for the Whiskey bottle and grip it like a life line.
TRADITIONAL PUBLISHING IS TERRIFYING.
I know I’ve talked about this before but I think I white washed the memory of it to preserve my fragile self-esteem. I should have stayed well away. As I listened to her explain her journey from querying agents to finally having her book appear on shelves, it made my idealistic heart shrivel. Why? Here, lemme break it down for you:
1. First, you have to make the shitty first draft. You have to write it, ignoring your inner editor, muddling through the “marathon of the middle” and dealing with real life to carve out time to write.
Great! You finished! (You, not I. I have not finished a single shitty draft yet .-.) You have birthed something from your soul and now it’s here and you couldn’t be more proud. Put it down and relax for a week or so. Let your brain detox.
2. Now cut it to shreds. Keep in mind while you re-write all those technical details like pacing, character arcs, conflict, stakes, plot holes, villain arcs, Story Structure, emotional arcs and a phenomenal ending. You have to cut out beloved scenes and lovely prose that don’t work, no matter how hard you try to validate them. You may even have to re-write entire chapters or ACTS, depending on how bad you effed up the first draft. Joy of joys.
(Okay, these things I already knew had to happen and you did too. Over and over again, this is the main advice authors have. WRITE, WRITE, WRITE! It is the hardest part of this whole process just putting words on a paper. Or so I thought. Alexa delves into the nitty gritty of what comes next and it’s mind boggling. More Whiskey please!)
3. Query agents. And if you fail, re-write some more and Query again. This could take months.
4. Hooray you have an agent. Hopefully. They help you fine tune your book some more and collaborate on all the stuff that needs to happen and they make a list of all the publishers they want to throw your book at. Hopefully you get accepted but often times you won’t on the first round draft. If they send letters, read them and take their advice and re-write. AGAIN.
5. Lets say this book does finally get a publisher interested. Yay! Oh gawd…brace yourself. *hands you a glass with two fingers of whiskey, no ice*
6. Edits. Ten days, Developmental
7. Edits. 1 week, Copy
8. Edits. 5 days, Line
9. Edits. 2 weeks, Proofreading
10. Marketing, formatting, copyrighting, cover design
11. Edits. 5 days, Final
Times may vary depending on publisher and when your book is launched.
But seriously! It’s overwhelming at the least to see this and know that eventually, you/I will have to go through this. How do authors not hate their books after reading it through 8+ times? How do agents re-read it over and over and still like you after it all? How do editors not shake their head and shove the shitty ugly baby manuscript off their desk in disgust after the 4th go-round?
I sat there at my desk after the first numbing shock wave wore off and I took a good hard look at myself through amber-colored glasses (of whiskey). Did I REALLY want to be a writer? Was I enough of a story-teller to put my ideas on paper for the world to read? Did I have what it takes to go through the publishing process; me, ever the procrastinator?
Questions laced with doubt that I countered with logic.
I’m aiming to get my Bachelors of English so I can go into the publishing world, maybe even be an editor myself. I’d love to know that side of things. Am I more editor than writer? Or do I aim to get my Bachelors to know more about writing?
To be honest, I really don’t have an answer to these questions. I know this: I know I have great story ideas that people would enjoy reading. However, I don’t believe (yet) that I’m the best one to write them, especially being a fledgling novelist. I feel the ideas deserve a seasoned author to do them justice, ya know? I would be so disappointed if the finished written product did not live up to the hype in my head. I would also be sorely disappointed if NO ONE wanted to read my book and it never saw the light of anybody elses’ day except my own. How awful to put in all this work into a creation built from scratch only to have it cast away from the Pearly Gates of Publishing Heaven.
Part of me understands that this doubt comes from not having a system yet; from not having DONE it yet. I don’t know if I’m a pantser or a plotter or a hybrid. I don’t know how to organize my story to track arcs and conflict and plots. I don’t (yet) have the motivation to write every day like I should. I get discouraged easily and my self-esteem is at an all-time low when it comes to sharing my ugly baby stories. AuthorTube plunged me into a Pit of Despair.
Or more like a Ditch of Disparity between what is and what can be, if I put in the hard work.
Seriously, could I have picked a more challenging passion? (Or whatever this twisted obsession is.)
YouTube has shaken me to my core, for better or worse. I take it as a good sign that I still come back to it, slowly acclimating to the shock value but I am still shaken. Maybe after I get used to it more, my confidence will come back and thus my motivation as well. There’s a lot of work to do for me. Starting with finishing a goddamned first draft.
Do you feel the same? How do you get over this depression?
Is it Whiskey?
Tell me it’s Whiskey.
Then I’ll know I’m doing something right…
Carry on my wayward People. No rest for the wickedly lost.