Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Encouraging or Discouraging?

Recently, I was contacted by one of my Wattpad readers to ask if she could interview me. The reader liked my work and wanted to use the interview as a means of promoting my work on the site. This isn’t the first time a reader has asked me for an interview, but I’m always flattered and humbled every time it happens, and I always say yes.

During these interviews, I’m often asked the same questions. How long have I been writing? What inspires me to write? Do I ever suffer from writer’s block and what do I do about it? Sometimes, I get asked some interesting questions, which I don’t mind as it makes the interview more fun. Once, I was even asked to play word association, but the words didn’t have anything to do with writing.  At least I don’t think being asked to name the first word I thought of when the reader said the word dinosaur had anything to do with writing!

In my most recent interview, I was asked a new question, one that had to do with writing but one I hadn’t been asked before. The reader asked if I thought any of my novels would ever be published. Given that I self-publish, I took the question to mean did I think a mainstream publisher would ever publish my work. I wrestled with how to answer this question. My first inclination was to say no, I will never be published. I’ve been in this business for eight years and have yet to reach that goal. With each year that passes, it becomes harder to believe in the dream. I hesitated to answer the reader this way because many of my Wattpad readers are also aspiring writers and I’m not interested in being a party to trampling someone else’s dream. In the end, I decided to answer honestly. I said no and I didn’t give it much thought beyond that.

Flash forward two weeks to today where I read an article about twenty-one-year-old author Samantha Shannon. I’d never heard of this woman until I read this article, but she’s being touted as the next J.K. Rowling for her freshman novel The Bone Season. For some reason, this article brought to mind my recent interview in which I said I’d never be published.

Rather than being encouraged by Shannon’s success, I felt the opposite. I suppose that has to do with my age. It’s difficult to be hovering near the edge of forty and have been toiling at this for eight years with minimal success and see an author half my age being given such a prestigious moniker. It calls to mind the big question; am I being passed by publishers because my work isn’t any good? I want to jump on the no bandwagon and ride the coat tails of excuses like it’s a hard business to break into or I have to be somewhat good to have so many readers.

Whatever the reason for my inability to cross over from self-published to mainstream author, one question remains. When I see other authors take the same steps down the road to publishing that I’ve already taken, and they succeed where I’ve thus far failed, am I encouraged or discouraged? Maybe it’s both and the way I feel depends on the day. Maybe it’s neither. Maybe I should be happy for them while staying focused on forging the path to my own success. 

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