Note from Aimee: This next author is a friend of mine I think many of you will know well. Before we were friends, she was a sort of inspiration for me, someone I actually thought was perhaps too big of a name in the writing community to even approach. Lucky me, she’s a normal person and doesn’t think that of herself and a friendship bloomed out of my first early awkward star struck days. Her querying journey has been long, her pain clear but professional. When she told me she was brainstorming a piece for this blog, I was honored beyond words. That I get to share it with you all now brings me joy and sadness. I love this series so much because I am so glad to know what it’s brought people, but seeing friends and peers here makes my heart ache because because as much as hosting this blogs makes me happy, what would make me happier would be to close it because every talented person hosted here (or reading here) got their happily ever after. And that sentiment rings harder than ever for the following author.
Content/Trigger Warnings: Brief mention of panic/anxiety.
Haven’t I always been giving up?
By: Kyra Nelson (Follow Kyra on Twitter @KyraMNelson)
I had a panic attack on Halloween.
I had gone to a party, telling myself that I’d leave early enough to get a jump start on my NaNoWriMo novel, but like Cinderella, I was having too much fun to be home by the stroke of midnight. By that point, I was rounding out ten years of being stuck at the querying stage, with the past several years being a special kind of hell.
The only way out of query hell was by writing through it, as I was constantly reminded by the onslaught of agent and book announcements that allowed me to watch author after author race past me. And I was (am) so desperate to escape this querying purgatory that I struggled to allow myself to do anything that wasn’t in service of that goal, even if it was celebrating my favorite holiday.
It is very hard to let yourself slow down when you only ever feel like you’re falling behind.
For a little context, the book that spurred my Halloween panic attack was the 19th I’d written. I’ve finished another since then for a nice even 20 completed manuscripts. Five of those I have queried. On paper, I have done everything right. I got beta readers, excellent ones. I went to conferences. I read craft books. I read hundreds of books in the genre I was writing. I networked. I wrote and wrote and wrote and wrote and wrote.
I made writing my whole life.
It wasn’t enough.
People assure me it will be worth it, but the longer I am here the less I can imagine anything would be worth all this.
People also tell me I should be proud because I haven’t given up, but the truth is I have given up. I have given up so much.
Because my time is finite, spending it on writing always means I’m giving up something else. For instance, giving up a Halloween party. Even if I wasn’t giving up the time to be there physically, I certainly was giving up my joy in it.
There are so many things I have given up in the pursuit of publication. That party. Other parties. Sleep. Time with friends. Non-writing hobbies. Peace of mind.
While I knew I was making sacrifices, I don’t think I realized the extent of it until the past couple months. In February, I finished the draft of my twentieth manuscript and began what I thought would be a routine short break.
I haven’t written since. I haven’t wanted to.
For someone who has become accustomed to churning out multiple books a year, a two-month hiatus is pretty drastic. I have done so much with that time though. I’ve been spending more time with friends and family. I actually feel like I have time to pursue a romantic relationship. I’m spending my evenings actually unwinding by playing video games and watching the shows everyone is talking about. I’m more on top of chores and errands than I ever have been. I’ve picked up some new hobbies, like watching baseball and venting creative energy through a TTRPG.
I wasn’t doing any of this stuff, or at least not doing it regularly, when I was giving all my time to writing.
Mostly, I like feeling like my time is mine and not something I owe the fickle gods of publishing. I like ending my work day and not feeling like I have to start another shift.
I don’t know when, or frankly if, I’ll get back to writing regularly. Sometimes I’m haunted by the idea that I have already given so much up for nothing. But I think I’m more afraid of giving up my future with no promises anything will come of it.
While I don’t think I’m quitting writing permanently, it’s nice realizing that whatever writing I do give up will be replaced with another little piece of life for me to enjoy.
The truth is, I have always given up.
I’m finally reclaiming my ability to choose what I give up.
Bio: Kyra is a writer, editor, and recovering academic. During her linguistics graduate program, she studied children’s literature, query letters, and narrative nonfiction. Follow Kyra on Twitter @KyraMNelson or learn more about her at her website: www.kyramnelson.com.