Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Things You Can't Control...

I’m going to say a few things and at first it might sound like bragging, but I think if you continue reading this post you’ll see how someone with my current mental state couldn’t possibly brag.

I am very successful in my day job. I’ve been with the same company for close to fifteen years. I’ve worked by butt off each and every one of those years. I come in early… (well I used to before I realized that I could still keep my job even if I got there fifteen minutes late) and I stay late. I’ve been consistently promoted throughout the years and now I’m running my own department. The more I pour my creative ideas into the job, the harder I work at it, the better the company does. The better I do.

I have (as much as anyone can have in these economic times) job security.

I have worked for my publisher for fifteen years. I have worked by butt off on each and every book I’ve written. I’ve met every deadline (there was one… but that was under exceptional circumstances) and accepted every revision my editor has given me. In short I have done anything I thought I could to meet the demands of my employer. I’ve tried to grow in my job, push the creative envelope and branch out when new opportunities were afforded.

I have no job security.

In fact as I write this I realize there is a very real possibility I might be fired someday. This of course stems from the receipt of the royalty statement. That mystical sheet that gives us our job performance review. How many books did we sell? Are our numbers growing? Do people like us? Are we making money for our employer or are we costing them?

I’m not going to lie. I don’t think my numbers look good. I had some expectations and they were not met and I realize… I can’t control it. I can’t make people buy my book. Now maybe you think this is a plea to go out and buy my books… and of course it is… please please please buy my books. (Now you see how a person so pathetic as to beg couldn’t possibly brag about anything.) But at the end of the day I can’t make you. I can work harder. I can give more. I can pour every ounce of myself into writing. I do this in my other job… success. I do this in my writing…Meh? Who knows?

It is enough to make a grown woman cry. Or drink. So I as I write this blog and I drink my wine and think in the words of Sally Field...“You must not like me. You must not really really like me.”… I realize that I need to let it go. I can’t control it. I can only do my best, put the work out there and hope. That is the reality of a writer.

Tell me again why I do this?

9 comments:

Karen said...

True, you can't control who buys your books. So all you can do is focus on what you CAN control - the writing.

I often wonder why I do this too. It's certainly not for the money. Sometimes (when I ignore that evil critic sitting on my shoulder), it's fun. More often than not, meeting deadlines causes stress.

But quite honestly, if you didn't have to do anything else, if you had an endless stream of money to support you and you didn't need to work at ANY job, writing or otherwise, would you still write?

I answer yes. I would. And there you have it.

Your turn to answer the question. If you answer yes, then all you can do is continue to tell your stories.

Luv ya!

Molly O'Keefe said...

Sing it, Sister!

I'm going to talk about Royalites on Monday - it's time for another blunt conversation. But let's add to the list of things we can't control:

covers. all -important and we have little say in the process. We fill out art sheets to the best of our ability - and sometimes we win the lottery and sometimes we really really don't.

the economy - the crash heard around the world - yes, people were buying Harlequin books - but that didn't always mean they were buying MY book. OR even superromances.

The one thing I can control that really hit home even more than the writing (Karen, I'm with you - rich, poor I would still write) are the ways the hooks and the conventions make a difference. I wrote a secret baby book (the son between them) and I loved that book. I wrote the crap out of it but I think most importantly it had the Little Secret Flash on the cover and I sold pretty well. Then I wrote a book about a journalist mourning her dead husband and the notorious son of the president of the united states (a president who beat his wife - yes, I know. What was I thinking?) Guess what - TANKED. And I mean tanked. Maybe the economy had something to do with it, but I think it had more to do with the hero and the subject matter. That's something I can control and probably should have....

Maureen McGowan said...

Trying to only worry about the stuff we can control is the hardest thing in this business. In life, too, but mostly in this business. LOL.

Sinead M said...

Stephanie, it doesn't make sense. What makes us a sucess in our work lives doesn't apply to our writing.
I've come to accept that even if I do publish, I will probably always have a day job, so I'm lucky that I love mine.
But the rich question, I would write, in a special office, with a big desk and floor to ceiling bookcases, and do nothing else..
Because being rich would allow me the freedome to do nothing but write..

Stephanie Doyle said...

Thanks Karen... the answer is yes (damn it!)

Back to the suffering.

Eileen said...

But it's so FRUSTRATING!!!!! Worse yet, by the time I get a royalty statement and have any numbers to look at, they're six months old and the situation has changed or it's too late to change anything.

Karen said...

Yeah Molly, I hear you. My bestselling book of all time was called The Princess's Secret Scandal. (I know, I know). It was a continuity. It's still garnering foreign sales.

Unfortunately, sometime the story that sings to us isn't the story the public wants to read. I hate when that happens. I'm working on another continuity book right now with a rancher, a pregnant heroine, and a few other hooks that I can't remember. But I bet it will sell well (grin)

Sinead (love your name, btw!), most of us unfortunately do have day jobs. I'd love to get rid of mine, but I like to eat and buy shoes. And books. And clothes. And more shoes.

Molly O'Keefe said...

A princess! I need a princess!!!

Eileen said...

Don't we all?

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