One Percent

Another slow news day in Jackie land. Or should I say another day of stressing out about the NES (Never Ending Story). I should be consoling myself with another WIP but that well seems to have dried up. I’ve hit the wall in other words. And as such, the question needs to be asked – how long do I keep going?

I haven’t been submitting long (or at least, not long in this business) – over two years. I’m on my 6th submission, including 2 contest entries. I have lots of ideas still and lots of mss that need finishing. But I’m not sure how much emotional energy I have left. And that’s the killer really. A nice analogy that I’ve heard from Dr Jax is what they say about anaesthetists – the job is 99% boredom, 1% sheer terror. That sums up for me quite nicely what happens with unpublished writers too. A large percentage of the time is waiting and then there’s that horrible moment when you can see the email in your inbox – that’s the 1% of sheer terror right there.

I’ve tried to explain that 1% to Dr Jax and he hasn’t really understood. Until last night. He’s a Dutch supporter for the World Cup and was stressing about the semi-final big time. And so I told him that that’s how I feel EVERY morning I download my email. He said, “God, how you do stand it?” And you know what? I don’t know how I stand it. Cause it’s getting pretty boring feeling like that I can tell you.

I don’t know what I’ll do if this ms is rejected. I have another ready to go but at this stage, I’m not sure I have enough emotional reserves left to bear the sub process all over again. And this isn’t just me I’m thinking about here either, this includes the family and friends and CPs who have to deal with me during this process. I’m not easy to say the least. Think the Incredible Hulk – you wouldn’t like me when I’m waiting on a submission. 🙂

Well, I always knew this was hard and maybe if I hadn’t had all that early success, I may have been better equipped for the long haul. There’s definitely something to be said for a slow building success. I started out with a blaze of glory, only to fizzle out. Which is when you start to question yourself and everything you do.

So what do you do when you hit the wall? What will be your limit? When will you say enough’s enough? I always thought my answer will be never. But never is looking like an awfully long time right now.

37 thoughts on “One Percent”

  1. oh Jackie don’t give up! you can do it. Push past it girl. Give it the good old kiwi attitude and keep on keeping on!

  2. I love your stories so you can’t give up, I’ll drag you back to that desk kicking and screaming. Aus and NZ, not that far apart…

    By the sounds of it you need to refill your creative well. You’ve burnt out. I recommend reading, people watching and writing just for fun (no targetting a publisher).

    I wasn’t going to confess to this but I will because you’re hurting. I seriously considered giving up last week. To the point where I was trying to work out what else I would do.

    I swore I’d never give up, I swore I had the persistence to keep going but when you don’t actually need an editor to tell you that your plot is insane and you can’t work out how to fix it (which was the sticking point) you take a good look at yourself.

    So I spent a couple of days trying to get a new grip, find something else, but apparently the dream of being published was the only thing driving me forward, so everything went in the pooper. So I recommend taking a look at your life without writing and seeing how it makes you feel. Super depressed isn’t a good thing ;).

    If you need something to make you smile and laugh out loud zip over to Julie Cohen’s blog and read Suckage Point 😉 Life will never be the same.

  3. Kerrin – yeah, trying to find my Kiwi attitude. Got a bit of number 8 wire I can borrow? 😉

    Lacey – I dare you to! Lol! Nothing wrong with confessing about giving up. Everyone thinks it at some point. The question is whether you actually do it or not. I don’t have anything else to do either. And sometimes even when an editor tells you what’s wrong, you still can’t fix it. Or something else that you hadn’t seen before is wrong. Or perhaps nothing’s wrong but the editor just didn’t like it. It’s all just so much of a lottery sometimes.
    But hey, how’s this – I’ll give up when you do. :-)Must check out Julie Cohen. Thanks for the boost, Lacey.

  4. Deal!

    Hey I was just lurking on your website and the link to your blog isn’t working. You seem to be missing the “:” after http and that’s made the technology gods mad 😉

  5. Well, Jackie, I happen to love the MS you have subbed, and I love the one you have ready to go. So I think, no matter what, you have to send 3 days. Even if you have to forget you sent it. Or I’ll fly to NZ and send it for you.

    As for giving up (which I don’t recommend) I’ll just ask you this: Will you regret it five years down the road?

    I remember reading a Presents writer’s (can’t remember who…bad me) call story and she said she tried for a while, and then she got a rejection that was the last straw. She stuck it in a drawer and didn’t write again for ten years.

    Then one day she pulled the R out of the drawer and read it. And she decided to write again. And that MS was accepted. Maybe she needed the ten years, but maybe she’d been on the brink and she gave up right when she was one away from being there.

  6. Maisey – thanks sweetie! Maybe I should NOT send 3 Days and then you’ll have to come out here and visit! 😉
    You’re right though, I probably would regret it. I have heard that call story – can’t remember who either – but it’s kind of inspiring. Guess I’m going to have to suck it up and keep going huh? Some days I wish I didn’t care so much though! Sigh.

  7. Jackie, when I first started on this road yours was the first blog I found and its been an inspiration for me, so don’t you dare give up! I never even know blogs existed at that point. Then I read your contest entry and loved it – I could see why they picked it. So have faith Jackie.

  8. Susan – what a lovely thing to say! Well, I have to say it’s all you guys that give me the inspiration to go on, though I won’t lie and say it’s gets any easier. Just gets harder in many ways. But glad you liked my contest entry – it was wrong in so many ways, I can hardly bear to think about it now. 🙂

  9. Jackie. No, no, no, do not give up though I totally know where you are at and it sucketh big time.
    But yes take a break if you need it! Refill that well etc.
    I’ve already told you my view of what to do to restore the mojo (try something else). Even just for liberation purposes. If you want to talk email me. I’m always here to chat. Seriously (addy on website via blog).
    And I’ve had too many ‘nearlies’ it’s laughable but I’m still in it. Because I’ve been unable to stop. I also think I have just figured that a certain place is just not for me! And that’s taken eight years. Am I giving up yet (naaaaaah! laugh laugh laugh) jx

  10. Judy – yep, it sucketh majorly. I know re something else – I just don’t have anything else in my head! Argh! 🙂 I should probably sit down and think about it. But eight years, that’s a long time. That’s inspiration right there. I should stop complaining really… 🙂

  11. Hmm. Want some tough love, girl?

    Six submissions (including contest entries) is nothing. Really, not a thing. Most people will have submitted a LOT more than that before they get published. And maybe that sounds discouraging, but actually, it’s meant to tell you that you’re on the right track. That this is normal. It’s a rite of passage.

    I tell and retell this story—when my second M&B submission got a form R, I wailed to my husband, “What do they want from me? I can’t DO any better than this!!” And that was 100% true at the time. If I’d quit, I never would have got any better than that. But I kept on going, and through writing (and getting rejected) I learned my craft, and eventually, years later when I had a publishing contract, I looked at that book and said, “WTF? This is rubbish!” and rewrote it and sold it and it became the M&B I have had the most reader letters about ever.

    Because I thought I couldn’t get any better…but I did.

    The wall isn’t a dead, you see. You can always improve, always go a little higher, a little more. But you can’t see that, when you’re battering against the wall. (And repeated revisions from an editor are, frustratingly, part of nearly every pro writers’ process. As is the waiting. I’m waiting to hear from my ed. right now and it’s killing me.) Once you climb over that wall, you’ve got another one. And another. But we climb them because that’s what it takes.

    If you can quit writing, go ahead and do it. You’ll spare yourself the Big Donkey Dicks (as the saying goes, LOL). But I bet you’ll miss it too much.

    Take a break, be good to yourself, do something to fill up the well. Then start battering against that wall some more.

    You can do it.

  12. Hi,

    So feeling the pain from here!

    Try to adopt a philosophical attitude: “it will or it won’t, but it’s not the end”.

    You know you can write, you know others’ agree with you, and what you’re doing is letting “anxiety” RULE!

    Publishing is a tough business – ruthless to some extent much like the heroes in many “presents” novels.

    It’s not a personal thing – pulisher rejection, even if an ms is superb in every way – it’s just bad luck.

    Subbing is always subject to long waits even if handed directly to editor who asked for it = something comes up to do with a book about to go to press and all hell breaks loose, or an agent is screaming down the phone (not literally)pressuring for a decision.

    Publisher editorial departments are a never ending source of interruption, disruption, and angst every bit as bad as that of an author waiting on a reply!

    How do I know this – neice works in editorial department of London based publisher.

    So think lottery and don’t bank on
    win but when it comes celebrate!
    best
    F

  13. (continued from previous LONG comment…)

    The wall isn’t a dead end, you see. You can always improve, always go a little higher, a little more. But you can’t see that, when you’re battering against the wall. (And repeated revisions from an editor are, frustratingly, part of nearly every pro writers’ process. As is the waiting. I’m waiting to hear from my ed. right now and it’s killing me.) Once you climb over that wall, you’ve got another one. And another. But we climb them because that’s what it takes.

    If you can quit writing, go ahead and do it. You’ll spare yourself the Big Donkey Dicks (as the saying goes, LOL). But I bet you’ll miss it too much.

    Take a break, be good to yourself, do something to fill up the well. Then start battering against that wall some more.

    You can do it.

  14. Julie – LOl!!! Thanks so much for commenting! Yep, tough love is tough – but that’s the way it is huh? I have to say I always swore I wouldn’t be a moaner, that there have been plenty of people who’ve tried longer than I have – years longer! – who are still out there battering against that wall. And look what happened? I turned into a bloody moaner! Sigh.
    Yeah, I know re revisions. I’ve already rewritten this wretched book five times with 8 different synopses. And I will do it again if asked. And each time I do, I learn more. But there are just those days where you think, ‘I can’t go on.’ Today was one of those days. Ah well, I’ve never had a life without writing in it so the only way to make it my job is to keep at it.
    Anyway, my vents on the blog are usually a desperate cry for someone to slap me round the head and tell me to pull myself together and get on with it. So I guess I’d better stop being such a blouse and get on with it. 🙂

    Francine – thanks for the perspective and the insider info! Yep, lottery is what it seems to be. I’ve got my ticket I guess. 🙂

  15. Is it something in the air this week, causing the gloomy, doomy feeling?

    Like Lacey, I also kind of harbored thoughts of giving up, especially after picking my most recent R on Friday.

    I realized, I couldn’t do revisions, I couldn’t accept Rs. Am I even fit to be a writer in the first place !

    But then, my good old story winked at me and I picked it up, trying to use every thing I learnt into writing it the umpteenth time.

    It might or might not see a release day. It might not even see an editor’s e-desk, but one thing I’m sure. As long as I write, I sleep well. As long as I write, I feel the creative tunes in my head, whispering I’m interesting, not the boring ol’ me. I’ll trudge on, hoping one day, I’ll look back on these times with a fond memory and maybe smile 🙂

    Ultimately, we ought to continue doing what we enjoy Jax!

    Hint, hint: You enjoy writing. Dont give up. We’re sure we’ll soon see your name on the shelves.

  16. And can I just say how much I LOVE Julie Cohen. Have for years! (In a purely writerly platonic fashion!) Happy sigh of conviction. JC rocks.

  17. Julie Cohen does indeed rock 🙂 And she’s right – you just keep on going over the wall (or over the top in my case!!!)

    But I do think have to learn to manage our emotions and our expectations – because getting up a ziillion times thru the night to check to see if that email is there is just not a healthy way to live (and yes, I am so guilty of this). The waiting and need for validation can so totally kill your sanity. But the most important thing I think is to enjoy your life – and hon, I’ve been there when my ‘writer waiting angst’ has meant I wasn’t enjoying some chunks of my life – sleep deprivation worse than when the twins were born! Not worth that!!!
    My only advice, is to put the sub out there and then forget about it. Give it to the universe to look after – its not yours to worry about anymore because you can’t do anything about it anyway. Have some positive mantras, focus only on what you can control – and that is the frame of your mind (and your current story). Think positive, believe you’re a great writer (and you are) and enjoy your family/friends and day to day fun stuff. Because THAT is your life’s blood.
    You write because its fun and you love it – remember that when you’re dealing with the machine that is the publishing business!

    Learn to manage your doubts/angst/waiting now and you’ll find it much easier to cope with the addidtional and different stresses when you are published.

    Hmmmm – was my comment longer than Julies? 😉

    Not as helpful tho!!!!

    **waves to Judy 🙂

  18. Hmm, seems like I posted the end of that long comment twice. Sorry! Blogger didn’t like me this morning.

    Anyway, I hope it was a helpful slap round the head. gg

    And I love you too, Judy! 🙂

    And I love Nat too, and she is right: the waiting and redoing and getting setbacks thing never stops, so you have to learn how to deal with it, the earlier, the better. (Not that I can actually deal with it now, quite honestly.)

    Now back to my big donkey dicks. Sigh.

  19. Oh Jackie, I know exactly how you feel – I’ve given up more times than I care to remember. But something always draws me back.

    I know you won’t be able to give up either – however much you think you want to right now. Psychic Sue has spoken.

    XX

  20. Julie, I think *I* might love you too. 😀 Brilliant advice. Makes me feel inspired. And grateful.

    Ju, none of this CAN’T business. It’s a learning process, and you’ll get there.

    Natalie, wait…you’re not supposed to sleep with your BlackBerry by your bed in case your editor emails you in the middle of the night? Not healthy, you say? *guzzles ninth cup of coffee* nah, I think I’m fine.

  21. Oh, and Jackie, Dr. Jax won’t care once I arrive. I’m just such a bright spot of sunshine that he won’t mind missing the WC finals AT ALL!! Or watching it on a very tiny TV.

  22. Wow! What great comments you’ve had! Julie Cohen rocks doesn’t she? She’s fired me up no end – thanks Julie! FWIW all I can say is “Don’t give up Jackie! Please. You will do it.” I’ve been a bit down recently writing wise (is there something in the air? Is mercury in retrograde?). Dunno…but…to change the scene I’ve been writing a lot of short stories. None pubbed so far – but they have focused my mind somewhat. With so few words to play with the beginning, middle and end have to be spot on and dialogue HAS to drive the story! I’m now going back to the (dusty) WIP and I’m determined to polish it off and send it out by the end of July (even if it kills me!). So hang in there babes – pleeease. Caroline x

  23. Jackie,
    I completely get where you’re coming from. I’ve been close to giving up too but always seem to find my way back to it eventually. The only thing I can say is don’t let it occupy your life. Write because you enjoy it, put it out there, then enjoy the rest of your life.

    Good luck!

  24. You’ll never throw that towel in Jackie – you love for it shines through in your posts.
    Some fab comments on here today, hope you’re feeling buoyed up a little by the support.
    I’m gonna slink over and join that long line of cheerleaders and wave my pompoms for you.
    Go Jackie! Go Jackie!

    :o)

  25. Ju – yep, those days are the hardest. But if you can pick yourself up and keep going then it’s going to make that final achievement all the sweeter. These other ladies have some great advice for us huh? We need to keep going. I can’t and won’t ever stop writing so I may as well endure the wait times that go along with submitting. And you can too okay? 🙂

    Judy – I think I love Julie too! 🙂

    Nat – it was VERY helpful. I just had a conversation with one of the CPs about perspective just after I posted that terrible, moany post. Certainly waiting on a submission is NOT the most terrible thing that can happen to a person – I’ve had some far worse than that happen to me so I should know. And I should know better than to whine.
    But thanks so much for your comments. I love the thought of giving it to the universe. Love it!! Going to use some special techniques that Dr Jax taught me re focussing on other things too. Already had a lovely day baking biscuits with my smallest so I’m getting there!

    Julie – the slap round the head was most welcome and most needed! Thanks!! Hope your donkey dicks are getting better (you need to patent that btw). 😉

    Psychic Sue – You’re right. Gave up for a day. Didn’t work! 🙂

    Maisy – LOl!!! Step away from the Blackberry. And I’ll step away from the iPhone. 🙂 Oh and no, he won’t mind a bit. Hehe.

    Caroline – I’m hanging in there, m’dear so you have to too!! Don’t these wise ladies have good advice? I’m feeling tonnes better already. We can do this!

    Marcy – so true. I am going to get some perspective today and with any luck will keep hold of it!

    Joanne – thanks for that! I do love writing. I hate submitting though, that’s the killer. Ah well, nowt to do about that part since if I want to make money out of it, that’s what I have to do. I’ll wave my pompoms right back at ya!

  26. I’m not sure I can add to the wonderful advice you’ve already had but this is my own little pearl of wisdom!!

    If you didn’t want it so badly, then it wouldn’t hurt so much.

    So, the hurt is actually good because it shows how much you have invested in your career.

    Hope that makes as much sense as it did in my head before I started writing …

  27. Joanne – yes it made a lot of sense. Sometimes I wish I didn’t want it so much. But then I wouldn’t work so hard and in which case, giving up would be waaaay easier! Bring on the pain! 🙂

  28. Jackie, I think now’s the perfect time to have a bit of a moan. Really! Just go ahead. This time tomorrow you could well have a full request and then you’d have missed your last chance. 🙂

  29. WOWSWERS – I go away and you get 32 comments!! I FEEL your pain! i know how you feel but really two years isn’t that long, especially considering how far you’ve got in that time!!! We’ll get there!!

  30. Jackie – Kudos for putting into words what is killing all of us! All it takes is for one editor to love it and everything will be worth it. I read people’s call stories (Maisey’s especially) and this is what comes through.
    My suggestion is a radical one. Take a rejected ms. Read it, polish it and learn to love it again. Then send it somewhere else. I got a pleasant rejection (bit of an oxymoron, but you know what I mean) from M&B for Catch Me A Catch after weeks and weeks and weeks. Then a quick (2 weeks) acceptance from Wild Rose, and its coming out on the 28th of this month. If I’d only got the M&B rejection I’d be crying still. Instead, I rediscovered my mojo and am trying a new one for M&B. We all need some positive feedback (and by that I mean a contract), so if you’re current target ain’t giving you one, widen your range, and shoot for the stars. You’re blog is inspirational, you’ve picked me up from the ‘I can’t do it’ more times that I can say, and as I’m not lucky enough to be your crit partner I’m dying to read a ‘Jackie’. So don’t you dare give up!

  31. Rach – I think the moral of the story is that you’re not allowed to go away when I’m feeling lousy and have no one to moan too, because THIS is the result. 😉 Oh and yeah, two years is PATHETIC huh?

    Sally – Oh, thanks so much hon! And I have to say, you’re pretty inspirational too with the way you took your R and turned it into a yes! I have been thinking about those rejections and debating sending them out somewhere else. Perhaps I will. They do need major fixing first though. Will keep it in mind.
    As for reading a ‘Jackie’ – argh, now the pressure’s on. If I ever get somethign accepted, you may hate it! 🙂

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