Existential Crisis o’ the Month

Hey, writer friends. Have any existential crises lately?

I’ve come up against a bit of a wall—a wall made of my own completely unrealistic ideas and expectations for myself—and I’ve been doing some soul-searching. A lot has changed in just the past week. I’m going to start freelancing as a copy editor again—so my “retirement” (ha!) was very short-lived. I may return to the world of publishing one day soon, but not just yet. I’ve decided not to continue work on my middle-grade novel, as I’m not sure if writing middle-grade is for me. I’m working on ways to increase my productivity as a writer… while at the same time facing the fact of who I am as a writer. Meaning: I am not a fast writer. I am not a commercial writer. I am the writer I am, and I need to embrace that and stop wanting to emulate other authors I see online. I can’t compare myself any longer. I simply need to write what I love writing. Why else am I here?

I’m also considering a modified version of NaNoWriMo this November, if my schedule is free, which will involve writing proposal pages for two new novels. They are both YA, because I scrapped the middle-grade and decided not to write the second one as adult. I’m not going to try to write a whole novel in a month. That just doesn’t work for me. But I am going to set my own goals and make progress.

So that’s where I’ve been, soul-searching through the first weeks of October. Some of it happened here, while looking out this window:

But I have a wonderful distraction coming up next week that I’ll announce on Friday. Here’s a little peek:

(Illustration by Robert Roxby)

I’m really looking forward to it and can’t wait to tell you more!

9 thoughts on “Existential Crisis o’ the Month

  1. Emily Hainsworth October 12, 2011 / 11:59 pm

    I just wanted to give you *hugs* because existential crises are no fun, and unfortunately, they can only be pushed through alone. Do what’s right for you and no one else, Nova. ~*~

  2. LittleMissVix October 13, 2011 / 4:05 am

    Sometimes a little soul searching can work wonders. I think it’s great you’re following your writing heart. Good luck!

  3. sarahwedgbrow October 13, 2011 / 8:04 am

    You’re not alone, and it does help others to hear about your mature and insightful decisions. My crises often involve defriending everyone on social media so I can hideout somewhere and escape the pressure (most of which I put on myself).
    At least you explored some of those boundaries…it’s all part of the “apprenticeship.” Sarah xx

  4. Kristan October 13, 2011 / 8:16 am

    “I am not a fast writer. I am not a commercial writer. I am the writer I am, and I need to embrace that and stop wanting to emulate other authors I see online.”

    “I’m not going to try to write a whole novel in a month. That just doesn’t work for me. But I am going to set my own goals and make progress.”

    Ditto and ditto. It’s the double-edged sword of the writing blogosphere. It’s the battle we’ll probably fight for years, until one day we’re comfortable in our own skin and we don’t even know when/how that happened. But as long as you can hang on to your passion, to the reason you do this, you’ll be fine.

  5. Aaron Starmer (@AaronStarmer) October 13, 2011 / 8:33 am

    You are definitely not alone with this. Patience is often the hardest part of the “business.” Embrace your slow writing. It got you this far and has probably been essential to the quality of your books. While most of us want a huge commercial success, I think all of us want to write books that make us proud. Sometimes that means months of questioning and doubting and falling back into freelance work. But then something happens… Speaking of freelance work, I must get back to mine!

  6. Camille October 13, 2011 / 8:43 am

    I always marvel at the ‘how you see yourself v. how others see you’ disconnect (and we all have it). To me, you are a pretty fast writer (though like we said, it isn’t a race!) and you work harder than anyone else I know. I look up to you, Nova.

    I was also thinking yesterday about the whole ‘I wrote my novel in two months’ thing (after reading yet another blog post on ‘flash drafting’). I imagine several months’ worth of ‘head work’ goes into it beforehand, you know? So a more honest answer might be ‘I wrote the draft in two months, but I was fleshing things out in my head, plotting and taking notes for about four months before that.’ Or maybe they really did conceive of the idea and write the whole darned thing in two months and I’m just saying this to make myself feel better.

    Except it’s not a race.

    (See? I’m with you.) :}

  7. Melinda Belle October 13, 2011 / 10:42 am

    You are an incredible writer. I know EXACTLY what you are feeling. Let me urge you to remember that you wrote one of the best books of this year. Imaginary Girls. Was it as commercial as a lot of other YA books? No. It was however, beautiful, a piece of art, and I could write a thesis on it. I have not been able to get it out of my mind. There are other books I read this year, well, I can’t even remember the characters’ names.

    Stay true. It’s difficult. The pressure is enormous from the business side.

  8. Laura Pauling October 13, 2011 / 12:16 pm

    I’ve read both your books and enjoyed them both. But I especially loved Imaginary Girls. I loved what it was and totally got it as a story. I read some of the commercial best sellers; and please continue writing what you’ve been writing. Don’t try to be more commercial than what comes naturally. Because I’m a fan that will buy your next YA.

    But as an unpublished writer, I understand your angst. I go through it too. What should I write next? What is really me? What do I really love to write? What about the whole branding thing.

    Best of luck figuring it all out!

  9. Suzanne Lucero (@S_Lucero) October 13, 2011 / 12:26 pm

    Your book is beautiful. Your next book will be beautiful, too, when it is finished. Don’t panic, don’t have an identity crisis. We believe in you, Nova. Carry on.

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