As a writer, I want the full buffet. I want the good, the bad, the arduous, the brilliant, the tedious and the make-your-own-ice-cream bar. If there’s pizza, I want a slice. However bad that buffet pizza always is.
So that means at some point in my career, I am going to get screwed over royally. We’re talking, they promised you fried chicken, and you got oven roasted. Or that nasty, pasty macaroni and cheese that promises to be delectable and turns out to be dreck.
You’ll hear all sorts of horror stories in the writing business. And I can’t really connect them to a food analogy because they are truly awful. Truly horrible. But we all get a chance at experiencing them and, like I said, I want it all.
That’s why I don’t do buffets. I always eat too much. That’s why I struggle through life—I want more from life than what life has to offer. What I do get, I greedily slurp up the experiences and long for more.
Yes, I get to live an interesting life. But it’s not a recipe for inner peace. Not at all.
One of my closest friends just read my book and hated it. He didn’t hem and haw, but when I asked him about it, he let loose with a torrent of “you suck”. This wasn’t just some guy, but one of my best friends, who I invited into my creative process, who I trust, who liked my first novels (however bad), but couldn’t stomach the one I finally got published.
Now, this is part of the buffet of being a writer. You will get bad reviews and, for some, you will have people you love not quite get your books. It’s a rough one, but my job as a writer is to write books no matter what.
My friend Linda Rohrbough, who writes for this wonderful blog (Hi Linda), says that being a writer is like being an orange tree: an orange tree’s job is to grow oranges and let them drop to the ground. Some are sweet. Some are sour. Some grow new orange trees. Others just rot in the weeds. But the tree continues to grow and drop oranges. Plop. Plop. Plop.
A few weeks ago, I was sitting at a table with a writer who wrote a book, landed a big-time agent, and had big-time publishing houses fighting over her book. And guess what? It all went away. So she wrote another book. Same thing happened. The agent loves her. The agents loves the books. But the agent is having trouble selling her books.
So my writer friend was trying to work on her third book, but she was discouraged. I told her that our job was to write books and let them drop into the world then get to work on the next project. She cried, I cried, we all cried.
Yes, we need to consider our audience, and if no one can read our books (not even our mothers), well, we might want to look at that.
But if people are loving your books and you get a bad review, or a close friend gets all discouraging, well, chalk it up to a bad piece of roast beef at the buffet.
We all get ‘em. But how lucky I am for getting to feel what it’s like to be a writer.