This writing business is not an easy one. At any given moment, you will find folks in the writing community who are celebrating great successes, others wondering if they should quit for good, and all of the iterations in between. As a writer, I sometimes feel like I boarded a tiny boat on a big ocean, trying to navigate somewhere while constantly being tossed by waves that alternatively represent swells and crashes — or swells and bigger swells followed by crashes and bigger crashes.
This weekend, my computer’s hard drive failed, and I received the diagnosis that my MacBook Pro had suffered a failed motherboard. After I made the final decision to lay my beloved MacBook Pro to rest, I spent some time reflecting on all we had gone through together. Yes, I know that it’s just a computer and that their motherboards and hard drives have a lifetime, but I had written 3.5 books on this particular laptop (and I’m sentimental, okay?). In my tumult of emotions, I also thought about my writing community and the times while writing those 3.5 books when I’d both needed support and lent support to others, talked about and shared hopes and fears, advice, and inspiration, and I realized not for the first time that (1) I’m not on this tiny boat all by myself after all and (2) what an up-and-down kind of journey it really is.
In a tribute to this journey (and indirectly to Ms. MacBook Pro), here’s my representation of the many stages of writing, showing some of the things that I and others have experienced. This is not to minimize any of these feelings, but to inform you that these are perfectly natural and totally reasonable reactions to the various stages of writing (shown via Bitmojis, naturally):
I wrote more today than I ever have! I’m in the flow! I can do this!
Am I a fraud? Do I even know what I’m doing?
Word count today: 0… the same as for the past month…I mean forever. What if I can never write another word again?
I typed “THE END” on this draft!!!! This is the greatest feeling ever!
*sends to beta readers*/*sends queries*/*goes on submission* *refreshes e-mail every three seconds*
I don’t know what to write now. What if I don’t have another story in me? EVER?
Do I save these rejections or delete them? *sets them all on fire and eats all of the ice cream and chocolate in the house* *buys some more for next time*
Someone wants/requested/read/liked my manuscript!!!!!
Revisions. And more revisions. And edits. And copyedits. And more of all of the above. Will this ever end? It has to end sometime, right?
BOOK RELEASE DAY!!!!! THIS IS THE MOST EXCITING DAY EVER! I HAVE LIVED FOR THIS DAY!
I’m just going to check my Amazon/Goodreads ratings one more time, but then that’s it. *five minutes later* Okay, just one more time. And one… More… Time….
My book made a list! (Wait, is that category even applicable to my story? I don’t know. But who cares?) A list!
Someone left me a 1-star review. They didn’t get it. They hated it. More people hate it now. What if my career is over?
I’m deleting all of my social media and going into hiding.
I just got the best story idea! It’s fresh and I already love the characters, and it’s almost like it’s plotting itself!
I’m writing again! I almost forgot how great this feels! It’s the best!
Huh. I thought writing this next one would be a little easier. A tiny bit easier? Not a whole lot harder. It’s like I forgot everything I ever knew….
So many plot holes. So many loose threads. What does this revision note to myself mean? What am I even doing?
I feel so inspired! That writing conference/pep talk/book by *insert super inspiring writer or favorite author* was exactly what I needed! I’m rejuvenated and ready to hit it hard!
I’ve been writing every night. And getting up early to write. And writing during the day between all the things. Because deadlines and expectations but also exhaustion and no time.
I just hit 70K… but I’m really not feeling this story anymore, and my early test readers are bored. Maybe I should…*gulp* scrap this version and start over.
I love this story again! I just needed to do “V, W, X, Y, and Z” to fix it, and it’s awesome again!
Deadline is approaching…. I’m not sure I can meet my deadline…. Deadline is past.
I finished the draft! I did it! I DID IT! (I knew I could do it.)
Wait. All if this. All of this is my writing/publishing life? Can I really sustain this in the long term?
I love writing! Ultimately I write for me, and I can’t imagine not doing it.
I AM A WRITER, AND ON MOST DAYS, I LOVE IT.
Helen Boswell loved to get lost in the pages of a story from the time she could sound out the words. She credits her dad, an avid fiction reader, with encouraging her to read ALL OF THE BOOKS on his shelves from the time she was a teenager. An author of both paranormal and contemporary romance, she loves to read and write characters that come to life with their beauty, flaws, and all. She is the author of the Mythology trilogy (MYTHOLOGY, THE WICKED, THE ETERNAL), and contemporary romance-suspense LOSING ENOUGH. She’s working on a couple of new stories right now, and you can find out more about her writing life at www.helenboswell.com.