okay, i'm going to tell you a secret.
or i'm going to make a confession.
or maybe it's both.
writing is harder after you sell a book.
not for everyone, i'm sure. and not forever, i hope.
but for me, it's been a difficult year for writing.
when i wrote BUTTER, i had no idea obesity and suicide were risky topics. no one had told me yet that "boy books don't sell." i didn't know my grammar wasn't perfect (truly, i thought it was. silly, silly me.) and i was still clueless about the "rules" in general.
i just wanted to tell a story. and it all worked out.
when i wrote BILLY D & THE BULLY, i knew a few more rules, but i had just sold BUTTER, and i wasn't yet fully initiated. i didn't know anyone would call what i was writing "disabilities YA," because i had never even heard of such a thing. i certainly didn't know that i had a year of revisions ahead of me, because i didn't know what i was doing wrong in that first draft. again, it all worked out anyway.
but by the time those revisions were done, i was in a different place as a writer. somewhere along the path to publishing, i had stopped thinking of writing as a hobby and started thinking of it as a job. suddenly, i couldn't just explore any old idea that delighted me. first i had to make sure the idea hadn't been done. then i had to rewrite every paragraph 40 times to make sure it was as polished as my other books are in their final drafts. then i had to outline the story to assure myself i had a direction and wasn't wasting my time, y'know... just having fun. because who has time for fun when you're writing for work?
the joy is still there. i still love love love writing. but the joy got a little buried under something else... pressure.
i was chatting with some of my fellow 2012 debut authors tonight, and i asked them if they found it harder to write now. i was comforted by a chorus of "yes!" followed by that word... pressure. i think a lot of new authors must feel that - a sense that everything you write has to have the potential to be published.
for me, it was paralyzing. i took weeks off writing. then, after a few false starts on new projects, the weeks turned into months, until finally i'd forgotten how i ever made time for this at all.
i'm getting my feet wet again - revisiting some of the ideas and pages i abandoned this past year out of fear - and i'm rediscovering the joy.
but i wanted to share the struggle here in case anyone else can relate. and i also wanted to share this much that i've figured out:
the only one putting that pressure on me was ME. and the only person i need to please when i'm writing is ME... because i'm writing for the joy of it.