Why Do Writers Put Themselves Through Hell?

I’m sitting here thinking about all the rejections I’ve received for my M/T/S novel and wondering when it’s ever going to be ready. Maybe it won’t be. Perhaps that particular book just isn’t a good idea. But it got me thinking about the hell we writers go through when we spend our time writing something, then revising it, then sending it off to beta readers, then revising again, then finally the hell of query and submission. Sometimes this can be the span of only a few months, sometimes years.

Oy vey, why do we do these things to ourselves? Particularly when we know how difficult it can be to have a book published. The answer is simple, because we do what we love and we love what we do. That does not, however, diminish the amount of hell we put ourselves through to try and get our work out there to the general public.

There are some authors that are lucky and have their books published, and when we read them, we sit there scratching our heads and saying, “I could have done a much better job than that.” Then there are authors that are genuinely talented at what they do and get published in a shorter time than even they expected. Of course there are also those that go through the self-publishing route, which with the technology we have these days is a lot easier to do than it ever was in the past. I sometimes feel for these people because even one bad review of their book could send it from high sales down to almost nothing. But I suppose that is true for any book that’s published, regardless of how it came about.

I had the (not so) fabulous idea of continuing to revise my M/T/S novel and continue with submissions at the same time. Turned out not to be the best choice I ever made. Live and learn. So, now that one is just in revisions at the moment and I’m doing the best I can to take the massive amounts of advice I’ve been given by the many critiques.

I’ve spoken to writers that told me stories to give me nightmares about their query and submission efforts. Sometimes it’s enough to make me consider giving it all up. Who wouldn’t have that feeling once in a while though? Considering all we do for the small chance that someone else will one day read and enjoy our work, it doesn’t always seem worth it in the long run.

Ah, but here’s the clincher. We take pride in what we do, even when we know we’ve written junk. Because it’s something we love. We dislike the pain and trouble at times, but at the same time we love it. There’s no better feeling than realizing you’ve accomplished your goal, or at least part of it, by finishing your novel or short story or whatever it is you’re writing. Hell, some days I’m delighted I’ve managed to write a coherent and semi-decent blog post and give myself a pat on the back for it.

If you’re committed enough to put in the effort from beginning to end, and to learn from other people where your work needs improvement, then the hell you put yourself through to get to the end is definitely worth it.


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