When my book was published I spent far too many clicks of the refresh button checking out the sales ranking. I felt like the rats in those experiments we read about in High School, the ones who had their pleasure centers stimulated every time they pressed a certain button. The rats would forgo food and water in order to press that button hour after hour, day after day. Sometimes they would die from it. I pressed the button. Sometimes the reward was there, sometimes it was a punch in the gut. That’s hard to take on an empty emotional stomach, I’ll tell you.
Now that Nearly Orthodox has been on the shelves for almost a year I don’t refresh as often but I do still refresh, hoping for the stimulation of the pleasure center, more often getting the punch in the gut. My publisher is happy with the progress of the book. I am happy with the quality of the writing and the effort I took to make it beautiful. Mostly. I suppose if we, as writers, are completely happy with the finished product always and forever then perhaps we’re doing it wrong. So, there’s that.
Being “post publishing” has lead to more angst that it took to get me to the editor’s “in” box. It’s more than it took me to wait those months for a contract to come and more than the angst that comes when the book first releases. As time wears on I wish I could say that good sense has led me to not care how anyone else’s book is doing or how often someone else gets an article published but alas, I’m not quite there yet.
That being said, I have learned some things (in theory, at least if not yet practice)
1)Keep writing, all the time
Whether it’s your blog, your status updates, your stream of consciousness journaling, your novel in progress, keep writing. All the time. Your work improves with practice. Do it. Stop worrying about what other people are doing at that moment. Write.
2)Keep reading, all the time.
While I advocate not worrying about what other people are doing, I do not mean to imply that we ought to seal ourselves off. Reading excellent work leads to writing excellent work. Join a writer’s group, read a classic novel, pick up the latest best seller. Whatever it is, keep reading. All the time. Read.
3)Keep your eyes on your own submission pile.
When a friend has a piece accepted I have to work hard to not be jealous. I admit this. I’m not happy about it but it’s true. When I also get a rejection that same day (and that does happen, bleh) I have to work even harder at reaching in toward gratitude and reaching out with congratulations. It’s a worthy struggle. Don’t quit the worthy struggle. Find an authentic place in your writerly heart and reserve it only for well wishes for fellow authors whether you know them or not. We’re all in this together, truly. Keep that space nice and clear of envy or jealousy and when that fails in a weak moment (because it will sometimes fail) take a deep breath and see numbers 1) and 2) then get back to 3). Lather, Rinse, Repeat. Keep your eyes on your own submission pile because jealousy and envy are creativity and relationship killers. Those killers will lie to you and tell you that you’re better or it’s a travesty but don’t listen. Just wish well to your fellow author and get back to work.
That’s where the good stuff is. That’s where the reward rests. That’s what we’re meant to be doing, right? Keep on keepin’ on, friends. 😉