I don’t know if I can really explain all the thoughts swirling through my mind, so I apologize in advance if this just sounds like a mess.
As you may have seen, I turned 30 recently. This birthday called for some self-reflection, but even before the new decade I was starting to notice differences in myself. Some of which scare me a little and I am not entirely sure how to process.
First off, I have spent the past few years working on a novel that I want to be the novel I start my young adult writing career with. I recently queried four agents and one editor for said novel, and after two quick no’s (one which gave detailed feedback) and receiving feedback from the most recent SCBWI Midsouth conference, I realized it wasn’t quite as ready as I thought it was. Still. After so much time. I went back to the drawing board.
Yet life has interrupted a lot. I mean, yes, there are definitely times I could have sat down and edited and I didn’t. I won’t promise I have used all of my time efficiently, but I also can’t deny that I have legitimately been a lot more busy lately with responsibilities that currently take precedence over writing.
My reading time has suffered too. I’ve read hardly any outside my lunch hour at work, and even that reading has been truncated with errands or going out to eat or catching up with work. Oh, and then let’s not talk about the fact that I’m suddenly feeling kind of worn out on YA, which feels kind of problematic when that’s when I want to write. I’m not sure what has caused this exactly, but sometimes I wonder if it’s that number 30. I have always firmly believed that you can read YA until you’re 100 if you want to, so why these sudden feelings?
But maybe it is just burn-out. Because then today I went to Barnes and Noble to explore not my typical YA section, but the children’s section. I browsed all the picture books to find the perfect ones to get for my friends’ daughter’s upcoming birthday and it was just wonderful. I knew it wasn’t literature geared for me, but seeing just the delightful concepts and the art and the creativity was a breath of fresh air.
And really my whole day was like that, doing things outside my routine. Going out for breakfast. Going to a local coffee shop. Things like that. All in a cooler temp we haven’t gotten much of lately. It’s been a refreshing day overall. (Except when I came home and opened boxes I’ve neglected for months and remembered how much crap I have that I need to get rid of. HA.)
Back to my novel though, I’ve been worried lately that I’m not going to make it work. But I don’t want to give up before querying more because I have only queried 5 freaking people and I haven’t even heard back from 3 of them (though with the amount of time that has passed that’s not promising). There is still a chance. But I’ve already been hit with self-doubt. They aren’t kidding when they talk about perseverance being the key to getting published. If I lose hope that quickly it’s not going to happen. I do have to keep going.
But I think it’s OK to step back sometimes and do things outside the norm. Maybe I should spend a little time on a new story, read something other than YA, and just do different life things in general. Earthbound will still be there when I’m ready for it. It really is OK if I don’t get an agent this year or next year, and I have to remember that. It’s even OK if I change my mind (if I do it FOR REAL and not because I’m scared… but after changing all my social media names to have YA in them I would kind of like to stick to that, ha ha). Sometimes priorities change and that’s OK so long as you’re not neglecting the most important things, like family.
So no, I don’t know where I’m going exactly. But I know that the not-knowing is not something to be scared about. It’s important to hustle, but it’s also extremely important to rest. So for now, I just may need to reset.
This all sounds perfectly natural. And you seem like you’re adjusting to everything pretty well.
Even though you’re writing YA, reading stuff other than YA is totally ok. Whatever you choose to read (whenever you can) will be just as valuable to your creative process, just maybe in a different way.
You got this. 🙂
I know I probably actually need to read more out of YA, but for a while it was almost all I really wanted to read. Now I’m almost wondering if I barely want to read it! But I think if I just step back some I will be happy to still come back to it. I want to keep my pulse on the industry, but I don’t have to be saturated with it.
Thanks so much for your thoughts and encouragement; it’s appreciated!
My gosh. I’ve been there. Some days I’m still there. Querying is basically the worst, scariest thing we as writers can do. Honestly, I think it’s even harder than going through the editing process. My self-esteem would go from about 9000 to negative gazillion in the course of 24 hours. My self-doubt was off the charts.
You’ve got this. Be kind to yourself. Grace.
That means a lot to me, Jackie Lea, thank you! It is always hardest to give yourself grace and kindness, isn’t it? I needed those words, so thank you. 🙂
You’ve a lot going on there Amy. I think the main thing is not to lose confidence in yourself, your writing and your ideas. I get burned out on genres but I find reading another genre for a while and then returning gives me a new appreciation for the one I was burnt out on. YA will always be my favourite but I can’t take a steady diet of it.
Publishing a novel is hard and getting knock backs must be hard to take but all the best authors get rejected. Don’t forget that. So yes rest loads, try new things but don’t lose faith 🙂
Thanks so much, Trish! It’s easy to forget every author faces rejections, especially when you compare yourself to those who have already gotten that one “yes” they needed, but there’s a reason they say comparison is the thief of joy. And I like what you said about not intaking a steady diet of YA. I think that’s been just my problem… it’s like if I only ate pizza for a long time without realizing that I could actually get sick of it one day! I can and I need a little more variety than that!
Omg that is awesome that you have finished writing your novel and are in the process of editing it and querying! DON’T GIVE UP. I WANT TO SEE IT ON THE SHELVES! Everyone faces rejection! Even I will face rejection even though I am not a conventional author, but rather an academic one. Yeah, but I definitely second taking breaks! 😀
I definitely want to read your academic stuff too, as a psychology minor of yesteryear. I don’t really intend to give up, I just have days if I wonder if I’m cut out for it or if I really want to try to make it. And I’m acknowledging it may take me time to get there. Thanks so much for your encouragement, Val! It means a lot!
Very interesting and reflective post. I’ve been in a similar place lately where it seems like everything in life is taking my attention and time away from writing. It’s frustrating. But when I sit down and look at my priorities – I wouldn’t have made other choices (mostly). And I haven’t read anything in MONTHS. I miss it, but I keep making choices to do other things instead.
I do think it’s good to mix up your routine. Try new things. Let yourself have other interests or try a different story. I’ve never been good at short stories but I really want to write a few. I want to use them to take some writing chances and practice new things in a format where I can fail quickly 🙂
I always want to try out short stories again! I had to write a couple in college for a fiction writing class and I think they turned out pretty well, but they can be hard! I also think that when I start to think about doing it I end up just feeling like it would be a waste, like I “need” to be working on a novel. But writing is helpful regardless, I know.