I’ve felt beaten lately, when it comes to my writing and the state of the publishing world in general. So many things have come to my attention that I’ve, rightly or wrongly, taken to heart.
These range from the explosion on social media surrounding an upcoming YA novel (which was subsequently pulled from publication – for now, anyway), and insights into scammers infiltrating Amazon (one indie author’s perspective is here if you’re interested), through to my immediate writing world, including the varied feedback I’ve received on my middle grade manuscript from its first beta readers.
Ah, beta readers…
I gave the first two chapters of my latest work to three beta readers. The first two were school aged, one smack-bang in the target age and the other slightly older. The third was an adult. None are writers. I wanted them to read it for fun, for the sake of the story, as readers.
All three gave me feedback on the all important start, as well as on pacing, characters, description/setting, and the age appropriateness/suitability of the narration.
Overall, the first two liked what I’d written. I was on a high.
Overall, the third did not. I mean, really did not. I bottomed out fast, so much so that I began to question whether I could write this story at all. I then extended that to questioning whether this industry, with all its hard knocks and hardships, with those eager to take advantage of people, to take others down, was worth the effort I was throwing at its front door.
I was also left with another dilemma. When writing in a genre controlled by gatekeepers such as teachers, librarians, and parents, whose advice should I follow when feedback conflicts?
Those more likely to buy this story, the adults?
Or those more likely to read it, the children?
Or *ahem* neither?
When your gut tells you to, well, follow your gut, but your gut doesn’t know what to do, it’s time for a break, for distance.
Especially when you’re hit with yet another rejection for a different piece of work on the same day.
So yesterday, I stepped away from writing to immerse myself in cooking, choosing a different creative pursuit to distract my brain, nourish my gut, and comfort my bruised (and confused) ego.
While chopping, I flicked on the television. The Oscars telecast was on (due to the time difference, it was televised live during the day in Australia). I don’t usually watch this event, but background chatter while preparing a casserole is preferable to listening to self-doubt demons And this is when I watched Lady Gaga’s acceptance speech for winning Song of the Year, when she said:
‘…And if you are at home, and you’re sitting on your couch and you’re watching this right now, all I have to say is that this is hard work. I’ve worked hard for a long time, and it’s not about, you know…it’s not about winning. But what it’s about is not giving up. If you have a dream, fight for it. There’s a discipline for passion. And it’s not about how many times you get rejected or you fall down or you’re beaten up. It’s about how many times you stand up and are brave and you keep on going…’
Was she talking to me?
Hmm, I like to think she was.
Regardless, it made me finish up in the kitchen quick smart and plant my sorry backside back in the seat, in front of my screen. Don’t know about being brave, but I’m getting up. I’ll keep on going.
I’ll take my beta readers’ feedback on board, filter it, then do it my way.
And I’ll strive harder to ignore rumblings and happenings in the industry that I can do little about.
Till next time,