I have been feeling distinctly social media unfriendly lately. Not that I don’t check in occasionally. I do. I always check Verla Kay’s Blueboards. I read my Twitter stream. I sometimes pop into Facebook (not my favourite site). But I have been an unenthusiastic poster (and blogger!) lately. I’m not sure why that is. It’s not so much social media fatigue, everyone gets that these days. It’s more, I think, to do with my writing. Or, should I say, my lack of writing. And if I’m not writing then I’m feeling a bit … unfocussed. And ticked off with myself. Which makes me feel less like interacting within the community of writers. All because I’m not writing!
Part of the problem lies with the fact that no particular story is calling to me right now. I have three different stories in progress. One is on the brink of being finished (has been that way for years) and two others that are just babies with only a few chapters in. I’ve hopped from one to the other to the other, writing a few thousand words here and there but I’m not feeling the compulsion to finish them. Is it because I’m not loving their stories? I think they’re good ideas. Is it their characters? Maybe. I have to love my characters with a passion that borders on obsession. Maybe it’s all the chatter out there about what makes a book sell in this tough market. I’ve completed two books this last year with which I’ve tried to entice agents and editors and neither was enough. Both have paranormal elements and I know the fatigue in paranormal is huge right now. But I loved (still love) both of them so very much. So, I should just stop wallowing and move onward right? Just write another story. And if there is more interest in contemporary and all three of my WIPs are contemporary, then why not finish those?
Maybe it’s because now, after ten years of slogging through the trenches, finally getting published, I know how difficult it is to sell a book. The knowledge about the business side of publishing is creeping in more and more and affecting the artistic side of the process. I keep wondering whether I should focus on this story or that one? Which will entice an agent more? Which one will be more likely to sell?
Well, I finally figured it out. I’ve been asking the wrong questions. I have to stop thinking about the business and think about the story. The questions I should be asking aren’t about what will sell. The questions are, and always should be,
What story do I need to tell?
What characters do I need to find out more about?
What excites me the most?
But if I’m constantly hearing/reading about agent searches, publishing deals, what’s selling, what’s not, how tough it is out there, how saturated the YA market is right now, it pulls me away from what I used to do, every day for years: writing in my little notebook the story of a few people and their lives that may interest only me. I need to get caught up in my characters lives – not get caught up in the life of the publishing industry (as fascinating as it may be).
That means I have to withdraw a little. Not completely but enough to center myself again and see if I can get caught up in a story that consumes me more than the idea of selling it does. So, I’ll be a sporadic blogger, twitter, facebook checker for the next while. I hope withdrawing from that side of things means I can find a story I’m passionate about writing again. Because that’s the reason I started writing in the first place. Like one of my favourite quotes says:
Follow your passion. You never know where it will lead you.