Sparked by Words

Y is for Yearn

Friis_Nybo_Girl_Inspecting_Her_Hope_Chest

I don’t write in a dark corner of my garage because I don’t need a reminder of how lonely I often am. I don’t write in a public place both because I don’t own a laptop and dislike trying to work in a crowded coffee shop. Amidst the noise of baristas calling out orders for wrappa frappa chappas, and kids screaming for attention from frazzled moms, and ice being crushed in a blender, I find it hard to concentrate. I write at the desk in my living/dining room on a messy desk with a big personal computer and a large monitor overlooking my ergonomically correct keyboard, music playing in the background. But it isn’t where I write or what kind of machine I use that’s really important.

It’s why I write. I want something important to emerge out of my efforts. I yearn for recognition as an author. I want a woman who’s waited at the bookstore where I’m promoting my book to ask for my autograph because something I wrote touched her heart. I want a man who thought he knew everything about the world to thank me for telling him something new. Among all the celebrity careers I can list – rock star, leading actor, superb athlete – nothing earns my respect more than “writer.”

But the road to publication is harder than ever to traverse, at least for traditional publication. I went to my writing critique meeting last week. One of the members had recently attended a local writer’s group where the publishing industry was a major topic. He reported bad news to us, that the current state of affairs has both editors and agents worried. No one can get a solid handle on what’s going on, at least not a reliable forecast of what can be expected in the industry. A book, once contracted, takes two years to final publication, making it a long shot for heavy sales under the best of circumstances, like a guaranteed best seller from a well known author might generate. Editors and agents are nervous about accepting the work of unknown writers because they can’t promise a devoted audience based on past huge sales. Big production expenses on the part of traditional publication venues and few purchases because of audience disinterest or inadequate promotion equal minimal sales and income loss. Company in the red. Bad investment.

Indie publications take far less time to get into the marketplace. In a matter of perhaps six months, while a topic is hot, with all the work undertaken by the author and whatever professionals s/he can afford to hire, getting a manuscript published and to the audience is far more likely. Traditional publishing can’t compete in a short order marketplace. The time spent trying to flag down and convince an agent to take on a project by an unknown writer and then sell that same unknown quantity to an editor might better be used to prep the same work for more immediate indie publication. A kind of get it to the marketplace quick as you can strategy.

My yearning for writing recognition generates a sweet and sour taste in my mouth. Imagine being able to show my kids something of value other than the handmade Halloween costumes that earned them awards at local competitions, or the Teacher of the Month tchotchkie from one of the schools where I’ve taught. I’m long past the illusion that I might win a literary award, but the honor of speaking at my local library about my newly published book would thrill me.

Despite the unfavorable news about traditional publishing, it’s still my first choice. I’m still trying (working on that query letter) and still hoping. But if it doesn’t happen, I’ll go the indie route as are so many writers.

Yearning for something of value is healthy. It suggests that I’m not done, not too old to try, to try harder, to try again. Fresh ideas and new opportunities await me as much as any millennial out of college. The future belongs to age and experience as much as to youth and energy. As long as I still yearn for my place at the author’s table, via one route or another, my chances for success remain possible. And that’s a great thing for an author who writes in her living room. I’ve kept this asset in my writer’s toolbox, next to my thesaurus and my books about plot and character development and a few critiques.

Yearn: the intense feeling of longing for something:

Sharon Bonin-Pratt, the writer

 

 

Public domain image courtesy: Friis Nybo, Girl Inspecting Her Hope Chest, courtesy: commons.wikimedia.org

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Comments on: "Y is for Yearn" (40)

  1. I so agree with all this, Sharon. Still trying to go the traditional way too, although each new rejection is like a kick in the face… However, it’s a learning curve, and by the time I push the button on indie publishing, at least I will have something half-way professional to show for it. Best of luck with everything. Xxx

    Liked by 2 people

    • That learning curve is a painful climb but it does make us better writers. However strong our native skills, there is craft to be learned, and that takes time and work.
      Marina, I wish you all the best on your way to fulfilling your dreams.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I have a plaque that says ‘a messy desk is a sign of a creative mind’. So it must be true. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Extremely interesting post Shari. You made me reflect on “yearning”. From a human perspective, I suspect, a much different drive creates yearning than from a spiritual perspective.
    Perhaps ALL yearning comes from the urge to connect to love? Not sure.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Here’s a question for you, Shari. It’s one I ask myself when the writing is going well and I start dreaming about the actual publication of my work.

    Isn’t there something in between traditional and indie publishing?

    I know someone in Australia (she name just happens to be Sharyn) who recently sold her press printing company for health reasons. Depending on how well she thought the writer knew his/her craft and his/her ability as a storyteller, she would publish their manuscripts, much the same as a publishing house for a percentage of profit plus a fee. That’s where she responsibility would end. It was up to the writer to do the promotional stuff as if he/she was an indie.

    There’s also a company I’ve come across online that has options and helps that look promising, WriteByNight at http://www.writebynight.net/.

    Anyway, I do understand your concern because I have it too. While I keep plugging away at my draft, I use break time to go looking for ways to alleviate my worry about what’s down the road.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think it’s that huge quantity of unknown future that has me gridlocked. What’s the right thing to pursue in light of such publication turmoil?
      The issue seems more than ever to be what will sell among readers more than how well written a book may be, something the “pros” can’t tell either.
      Thank you for the suggestion about other options – I’m going to look into WriteByNight and see if it might work for me.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Hey Sharon, for what they’re worth, I thought I’d share my ideas on this topic.

    I’m not particularly attached to either self-publishing or trade. But I’m actually glad both exist. I want them both. (What I actually get may be another story, perhaps.)

    Short stories–I’ve actually learned there are two kinds of shorts–general audience and those for ezines and anthologies. There’s certainly some overlap, but editors get to be extremely jaded readers. They like stuff that’s different. And I get that. If I’d just read twenty-seven stories about unicorns, I might be tempted to skim the twenty-eighth. This is the sort of market I’d submit my feral refrigerator story to.

    But readers still want to read about more common ideas. So those go on my blog and eventually into self-published collections. I need to write them anyway. And this takes the pressure off me to be amazingly original every time I sit down to write a new story.

    Novels–I want a trade deal someday, but not yet. I want to SP my eight written (but still-not-finished-with-revision) novels. Hopefully, that will build me a big enough audience that I can get a trade deal without having to be a supplicant, which is seriously not good for me unless I’m in church. If I have to beg, I can’t do this. It’ll destroy me.

    I figure since nobody else is sure what’s going on or what will happen in the future, it’s as good a plan as any. I’m passing it on in case any elements seem useful to either you or your readers.

    I, too, yearn to be a real writer. To see my books on my shelf next to those of my favorite writers–and to feel like they belong there. To have people tell me my stories touch them or make them smile–and that last has already happened on my blog, so I’m super-grateful for the nearly instant gratification there. I’m not sure I could keep going without it.

    So keep putting yourself out there, and we’ll keep telling you to keep going. If we all support each other, we just might be able to write our way to achieving our goals. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • You gave me a lot to think about, Cathleen, and I do hope my other readers pay attention to your ideas. You’re flexible, and that’s a good quality to have in this uncertain marketplace.
      I’m also willing to wait my turn and ask nicely, but I get the part about not being a supplicant (what a great expression!) I have similar reasons for occasionally posting my poetry on my blog.
      And I hands down expect to support my blog friends.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. SIGH

    I agree with everything you said. If I cannot make it via traditional publishing I prefer not be published. That is why I started screenwriting. I needed to have a second path in case the traditional one locks me out.

    Not sure what else to say. Keep plugging away. Our voices will be heard.

    Like

    • Argh! I wrote a reply to your comment but it seems to be orbiting the blogosphere.

      I’m sorry if I gave you the impression that I completely object to self-pubbing. I don’t, and while I haven’t given up my hopes for traditional, (the cachet of a traditionally published book on a shelf in a brick and mortar store – I can get drunk on the vision) it seems likely that I will go the self-pub route. I worked so hard on my three completed books, and I don’t want them to rot in a closet. I’m older than you by about 20 years, Andrew, time is not going to be generous with me. More and more folks are going the self-pub route and enjoying success. We each must choose the direction that best suits our needs and desires.

      I support you whole-heartedly in this venture. Your choice will be perfect for you. Please let me know what I can do to help.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Sharon, this is lovely – the perfect thing for me to read on this day of thinking of my dear friend who passed away much too early.

    Like

  8. Interesting post! It really is about persistence and perseverance. There is a “rule of thumb” that it takes 20 attempts to get one “hit” or, one “yes”. That is 5% probability of success. Worth noting.

    You are a terrific writer and for whats it worth, I I really enjoy reading you. Don’t give up. As one of my art teachers once said….it is not the best artists that become famous, it’s the ones that work the hardest and the longest. Perhaps not always true, but theres a kernel of truth there.

    Peta

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wow, Peta, you really made my day. Thank you for the lovely comment and support.
      I’ve read the same 20 tries for a hit, also that hard work eventually shows its own reward, and that we need 10,000 hours of learning our craft, no matter what it is, to master it.
      I’ve certainly put 10,000 hours into writing. You make me believe it shows.

      Like

  9. I understand the yearning to be accepted by the traditional publishers yet have enjoyed immensely the creative process of going it alone. I think it’s a misconception to think that only if you do things traditionally will you have people who fall in love with your characters and want more. So many trad published books come out and die away before anyone gets a chance to read them–and that’s after years waiting for someone else to design your covers etc, etc.

    Maybe it’s morbid but I finally took hold of my publishing destiny after an encounter with death and I’ve had absolutely no regrets. Strangers send me notes of appreciation and my grown-up children know a deeper me after having read my novels (they also laugh at how I get them into the stories).

    Liked by 2 people

    • The publishing industry is in a shambles, partly because they are slow to produce and slow to change. Also, they’re hesitant to take chances, they want everything assured even though nothing is.
      I will probably end up going the indie route. I’ve been following the progress of several friends whose indie books are doing well, a few others whose books will launch soon. It’s becoming clear that it’s no longer the better books that are getting the attention of the traditional publishing companies, and that many fine books are being published independently.

      I’m glad to know of your success, Adrienne. Thank you for a well considered reply.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Success is a very subjective thing–I certainly wish more people read my books–but then maybe a writer always hopes for more–and more!

        Like

      • Adrienne, I think each of us has our own definition of personal success based on our own goals. From what I’ve recently learned, the publishing industry is in shambles with no one knowing exactly how to maximize exposure and purchases.
        One thing to consider is that there is so much to distract us and attract our attention – two sides of the same coin. Reading used to be a top pastime for many people and when I was a kid, everyone was always reading something. Now I know many people who say they never read. Frightening to a writer – right?

        Liked by 1 person

      • I’m giving up evening computer time. It’s killed my reading time.

        Like

      • That’s seems like a good approach. I find I have to give something up in order to get more accomplished, but don’t always want to give up the obvious (in my case) – a lazy bent which allows me to make excuses for not doing what needs to get done – or so I say, anyway. Enjoy your reading, Adrienne.

        Like

  10. You write so well!
    It is ironic & frustrating that many people who would love to read your books don’t have the opportunity due to our publishing system. I hope you will press on as you have a story to tell.
    I am writing on my phone which makes it harder for me to express myself. I hope that my meaning and support come through!

    Like

  11. Wishing life’s best your publishing way! 🙂

    Like

  12. Please continue to see the positive angle down your road. You write extraordinarily well and create feelings nearly effortlessly, I believe. You’ll be published. This I know. What a wealth of information in your post and among the comments.

    Like

    • Actually, I spend hours working on each post. The ideas come in bursts, usually when I in the shower, but articulate writing takes effort.

      I’ve also been astounded by the comments from readers. People have been so understanding and supportive. The blogging community is compassionate in ways I would never have imagined when I first started writing Ink Flare.

      Like

  13. Interesting post

    Like

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