Feelings of insecurity today and yesterday, just being unsure, just questioning, just… just not where I should be.

I’m not sure why. Waiting for the official editorial letter maybe, though I know much of what it will say…

I had a really productive and helpful lunch with a friend in publishing who gave me direction on marketing myself and future steps. Looking at children’s/YA agents to try, when the time is right, but as far as I can tell, the people she suggested do children’s and YA only—not adult, not literary fiction.

I was telling E I had let that go, writing litfic. I’d been burned and I wasn’t going back. I had a whole argument about it.  My analogy was that it would be like going back to your abusive ex-boyfriend when you have a good relationship with someone new, which shows you how irrationally emotional I’m feeling about it.

My friend asked me if I’d embraced writing YA now, and I said yes. This is what I’m doing. Only this, I told myself. I felt very sure about this earlier in the week.

And yet. And yet can I let it go forever? Is that really how I’ll feel in a few years? The new novel I’m working on now is YA—and I have so many ideas for other YA novels I want to write. But what if I decide to write something else in the future? Can I?

I also have been putting off sending a new batch of short stories to literary magazines—it feels so pointless somehow. I can already see the rejection slips.

This is not the way to be! I wish someone could come over here, take a look at everything I’ve written and am working on, step into my mind and see my true hopes and dreams, the ones I don’t even know myself, and then take a good clear peek into the future and tell me exactly what I should do. I’d like someone to say: “Write that book next, not this one.” Or “You’re going to be this, you’ll never be that.” I’d like to know.

But you can’t find direction outside yourself. It’s in here… somewhere…

The recession and stresses in the publishing industry (you’ve heard of this, I’m sure, and it looks like other media companies are following suit, and the bad news isn’t over for books) have also made me more nervous than usual. I still have a day job, and I’m happy about that—no layoffs at my company yet. Today, I have a giant stack of covers and picture books on my desk desperately needing me to check them. I’m a bit behind because I spent all day yesterday on something Big and Urgent. So there’s a lot to do, once I get to work. I’ll be very, very busy. I’m actually very grateful for that. Maybe it will keep my mind at bay.

Besides, it seems terribly absurd to be wondering what kind of writer I’ll be in the phantom future when book publishing has come to this:

“Maybe writing books will become just the hobby of rich people, or people who can live very cheaply.” —from the above article in Galleycat

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7 responses to “Insecure”

  1. Why are you so insecure? This is the life we chose. We’re writers. It’s in our nature to flip off convention and do as we please. Write YA for as long as you wish, then write something different.

    We will all continue to write through the recession. We will use our last dollar to buy paper. When we’re out of money, we will write on the backs of our many rejection letters.


  2. Of course you can! Hey look at Stephenie Meyer. Whether you like her or hate her, she’s had remarkable success writing for Teens (Twilight) and Adults (Host)
    can write whatever at any time. It sounds like your focus on getting published is inhibiting your creative freedom and desire to just play with words. Don’t worry. Just write.

    The publishing industry will endure, just with fewer books being published which is not necessarily a bad thing. This means that more resources and attention can be devoted to the books that are being published.

    Also, there are many many many adult writers who do Adult Fiction and YA:

    Jane Lindskold
    Holly Lisle
    Tobias Buckell
    Elizabeth Haydon
    Brandon Sanderson

    Just to name a few well known writers that I know of.


  3. Roald Dahl was best known for writing children’s stories, some of the most beloved of all time, but he also wrote adult fiction. Just because you mostly write and are mostly known for one thing, doesn’t mean you can’t do the other.


  4. It’s not easy, being typecast. Perhaps that’s what you’re worried about. Well, you can always write under a pseudonym. ;o) When you get famous you won’t need it anyway.

    I’ve been thinking about the children’s, teen and YA markets. My children are in school for the first time, after our having home schooled for many years. What I notice is that they read like crazy. They bubble over with joy and love for the books they read, the characters, and I’m transported back to 4th, 5th, 7th, 8th grade, when the pains of growing up were bathed with soothing oils of the books I read, where the characters had bigger troubles and still seemed to survive and even transcend them.

    One daughter has just finished an historical novel that taught her about a flu epidemic. That daughter now actually *has* the flu, by the way. We’ve had so much rich conversation about that book.

    I bring this up because there was a time when I was much younger and only respected literary fiction and academic, serious, or scholarly nonfiction. To write anything “popular” or for the YA or teen market was, well, for those who weren’t real writers. This came across loud and clear in journalism school, where our visiting professors were published in the New Yorker and the small but trendy literary magazines and wore cashmere scarves and were Just So Cool.

    So many years later, I know that I’m going to die, and you’re going to die, and then it will all be over. How many lives will we have touched with our art? How many thoughts changed? Will we have done much of substance apart from having families or being very good friends or spouses or doing well in whatever human relationships we have? Is it some kind of madness to think that only literary fiction or serious scholarly nonfiction is “real” or meaningful, or makes a person successful? Is it to write what might win a Nobel prize or a Pulitzer, rather than to change people’s lives?

    I think of “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” still in print after all these years… or “Where the Sidewalk Ends,” or “Old Yeller” or “A Little Princess.” Come now. The most magical times of our lives, the times before we’re impossibly cynical and afraid of being nobody are when we are just the age you’re writing for. I want to say THANK YOU for writing for my children. Thank you for writing books that are readable. Thank you for interjecting something wholesome into an unwholesome and dark world.

    We really need love and nobility, truth and history and real character in our books for our children, and not just crap like “Twilight” (I’m sorry, but for God’s sake… are we that desperate since J. K. Rowling grew Harry up?). Please, for the love of all the children in the world who read books, please think and write like a flipping literary YA author!

    /impassioned plea off


  5. Ah Nova, I’m just catching up on your recent posts (and I don’t know yet whether you confronted Ms. Bright Light because I haven’t read up that far–hope you did!) and my thoughts are that right now you are writing YA. That’s all. Right now. That’s not forever. You may land a YA -only agent, but when some future time comes when you have a litfic to shop around your agent can no doubt steer you in the right direction. Once you’re repped by an agency, you’ll have access to all the agents. So no worries!


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