Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Career vs Survival

Maybe I should call this post Down & Dirty, because I’m about to construct a few blog posts that are just that. Thought I’d start with myself, though, and say a few words about accountability.

I got my ass ripped last week by two well-meaning and very correct friends and CPs. Gerrie, God love her, asked me when I was gonna get serious about my career and stop screwing around with merely surviving. She hammered me, refused to let me off of the hook when I tried maneuvering the conversation to something else. I knew she was right – I just didn’t know why. Then I did some thinking.

Seven years ago, I didn’t know that I’d even be alive, much less published, within the next few months. I wrote to survive. Writing pulled me out of depression and made me flex my muscles in numerous ways. I could sit for maybe 15 minutes before needing to move about. I had much to learn about the writing business in general. And I didn’t feel that I was that good anyway. Helluva start, right?

Well, as my friends pointed out, that was 7 years ago. Time to realize that as long as I was alive, I needed more than stepping stone goals, means to an end.

Ger’s and Mer’s main question was “Why haven’t you submitted anything to New York?” My responses got shot down.

“I didn’t expect to be here…alive.” Well, guess what, dope, you are.

“I’m not good enough.” Bullshit. You’re just lazy. If you’re not good enough, then polish up and get there.

“I—I--…” Yes? Do you want to have a career versus just a paycheck now and then?

“Yes.” Then [to paraphrase my son, who chimed in by then, repeating what I’d told him when he was a child] don’t just do something, do what matters. Anyone can just do something. Not everyone will do what it takes.

I have issues, major ones – lol. My first inclination is to make excuses to all of them. I’ve already made them to myself.

#1 – I don’t want to work with agents. Been there, done that, have the ugly tee-shirt to prove it. My first one died, my second one split NY after 9-11…just disappeared for over a year, leaving all of us hanging, and one of us had received a 100k advance on her last book. My third one was dishonest – long story.

#2 – I actually like working for who I work for NOW, and none of them, with the exception of the magazine publishers, are in New York.

Okay, so do it without an agent, and continue working for the publishers you already work for. Simple, right? Not really. Like everyone else, I only have so many hours in the day, and to do more of one thing means giving up time in another. There's the rub.

My friends know me better than I know myself. They hear me complain even when I don't realize I'm doing it. I submit a manuscript to EC, for example, and I’m lucky if it gets read within 4 months, luckier if it gets edited within 8, and even luckier if it’s published before a year has passed. Others…friends…get theirs out much quicker, so I’m not sure what I’m doing wrong there. Maybe nothing. Maybe it’s just the Universe’s way of telling me the same thing Ger and Mer do – get off your ass and stop putting all your eggs in the same basket. I LOVE working for EC, though. Love my editor, slow as he is. Love my publisher, the staff, everyone I’ve dealt with there. I’m just not on the fast track with them for some reason, and then I start questioning myself—maybe you’re not ready. Maybe you just aren’t that good. Maybe…maybe somehow it IS you that's holding you back with them.

Maybe while you have 3 unread books there and a 4th that’s been waiting on an ISBN for 3 months, you can work on something else and stop making excuses for yourself AND them. [Now in all fairness, those 3 books were only recently turned in, so…not EC’s fault that they’re unread.]

I love working with TEB – and I don’t care how much money I make or don't make with them – I’d damn near work for Claire, Michele, and TEB for free – lol. They are THAT great to work with. I love my fellow writers in that group, adore my publisher, and couldn’t ask for a better editor. I never have to wait if I have a question or a problem. It’s European exposure. I’ve turned in 3 manuscripts since January 1st, and all 3 have release dates for prior to June – on TOP of the manuscript that was published in early January! What’s not to like about that?

I haven’t submitted a manuscript to Loose Id in nearly 3 years and still hear from my editor on a regular basis. She’s checking to see how I am and whether or not I have anything to submit to her. A dream relationship. My reasons for not submitting anything to them lately have nothing to do with that.

Samhain…great editor. I’ve primarily submitted mainstream to them, and they don’t have the book buyers to get the books on the shelves – but I couldn’t ask for a better editor. Not her fault, ya know. At RT, Houston? She was right there, asking if I needed anything, taking photos of me for the Samhain site and for me to submit to Playgirl Magazine, since Playgirl had hyped me in one of their issues, on a novel that Samhain didn’t even publish! Yet there was my editor, helping ME with that book that one of their competitors had published!

You know, it is what it is. If we’re in it for the money, we’re screwed anyway, but it’s money, not love, that pays the bills. I tell myself that I’m primarily in it for the growth, and I think what Mer and Ger are telling me is that maybe it’s time to reconsider, to reevaluate, to reestablish and take inventory, see if I’m comfortable staying put as opposed to merely reluctant to the idea of expanding my territory.

These are the publishers who helped me get started, and I don’t want to leave them anyway, not because of the comfort zone issue or even the loyalty issue, but because I truly enjoy working with them. Well, most of the time – lol. Every ‘job’ has problems.

I also look at history – expansion means leaving one place and moving to another. Viewing oneself as a pioneer of sorts, and Davy Crockett I’m NOT. All I need is another freakin' deadline – lol. But…I want to produce and publish more mainstream. The hell of THAT? In order to do so, I need to seek help elsewhere. Damn it. I really, really, really don’t want to give up that editor.

Told ya I have issues. I know, for one thing, that I've always been better at making money than at hanging onto it or managing it. So where do I go from here? Time will tell. I just thought it worth blogging, that it’s good to take inventory. It’s good to have friends who give a shit. It’s good to have choices and to get honest, regardless of the outcome.

Maybe I won’t blog this after all. Maybe I don’t want to risk throwing what little career I have in the crapper, you know? Risk pissing off EC (I did call them slow, didn’t I? – even if that was my only complaint) – maybe I don’t want to tell Samhain that I can’t afford to submit any more mainstream to them. Maybe I don’t want to admit to Claire that she doesn’t even have to pay me, because in the long run we both know that’s a lie in the making – LOL. Then again...make up your mind, Charlie Brown. Who gives a damn whether or not you drop your pants in public and share what you feel to be insight that may help someone else? Maybe I’ll just post this and worry about the aftershocks later. Maybe this WILL help someone else who is in the same boat...stay put or expand. Examine the reasons and feel comfortable with what comes next, simply because it's your life, your career...or your hobby.
Whatever the decision, I need to know it's the right one, that I'm not staying put because I'm afraid to take chances, or that I move someplace else simply because I'm not working hard enough where I AM.
Thanks, Mer and Ger. Thanks, publishers and editors (as you can all see, I've been blessed there).

Today, it’s good to be me. Hope you can say the same.



At 1:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can so relate to this post. Well, the parts that aren't about online publishing since I haven't done that. heh heh

But most of us just want to be writing and selling takes up time--as does finding an agent. I've spent more time in the last couple of months researching agents, querying them, chatting with them. All that time takes up writing time. It's not that I'm complaining--okay maybe a little about how long it takes--but I spend a lot of time researching each and every one and then it can take months to hear back. Some are faster than others--but a part of me does remember what happened with your second one. Getting your hopes up like that... I just knew that book was going to hit the big time. Still think it will.

Thing is, I keep thinking that once I do find a good match, I won't have to use my time for trying to sell anymore. Just writing and promoting. Those are two things I like doing.

I miss you. Have some friend to friend stuff to discuss and I can't find the current email. It's not on the current laptop. ;)

At 2:35 PM, Blogger Lyn Cash said...

then expect an email from me - miss you, too...

At 3:34 PM, Anonymous Kelly Ethan said...


I have the same thoughts about my career to. I procrastinate way too much and I am essentially lazy. i could be doing way more than I am now. And I'm getting the "Its time for a real paying job now" talk from my partner. So its time for me to seriously evalutate my life and work.

So amen sister lol.
Kelly Ehan

At 4:11 PM, Blogger Merry said...

Good post for any writer contemplating career options. are your three chapters coming along? Sunday's four days away. LOL

At 4:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just read my post. It's all over the place. LOL!!

At 4:48 PM, Blogger Lyn Cash said...

Thanks, Kel!

Mer :P 3 chapters are a-cookin'. I'm just glad I'm not writing erotica at this point. I'm no LL, that's for sure.

At 4:49 PM, Blogger Lyn Cash said...

Rinda, it's perfect. Makes me feel normal and not 'alone' - lol.

At 9:26 AM, Blogger Angela James said...

lol, thanks for the compliments but know we're not doing mainstream anymore? So you don't have to be afraid to tell me anything and, you know, we do other genres besides mainstream. And the sales are good. And the books go on the shelves. So your post actually, now that I think about it, confused me.

Maybe you need to think about instead of "giving up" is refocusing because it sounds like you might be a little scattered. And that's not like "refocus" and write for Samhain, that's refocus and decide what you love, where you want to go and how you're going to get there, whether it's money, fame or just writing. Just talking about it never got anyone anywhere. You need to focus and then take the steps.

At 10:21 AM, Blogger Lyn Cash said...

Just talking about it never got anyone anywhere. You need to focus and then take the steps.

Great advice. My problem is that I don't want to give up ANGIE AS EDITOR - WAAAAAH - and I want to write more mainstream.

K. Tantrum over. For now. *wink*

And yes - clarity please - Samhain DOES put the romances on the shelves. I'm just at a loss for what to do with those 2 mainstreams - and I know you feel the same way.

I'm actually working on a new mainstream - no clue where I'm sending it, but I *am* (thanks to Mer and Ger's nagging) working on it.

Thanks, Angie.

At 11:39 AM, Blogger Mechele Armstrong said...

No great advice but I'm going through a similiary thing. Where am I at? Where do I want to be? What should I be doing?

So you aren't alone in the musings over your career. Must be the season of reflection.

And I don't blame you on not wanting to lose Angie LOL. I'd love her for an editor.

I think she's got a point in refocus, figure out where you want to be, and take those steps. Hmm...I'm taking that for myself as well.

At 6:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm sitting here wishing I could remember, word for word, the "pep" talks you used to give me. You wanted me to write and although I tried and had ideas, I just didn't have the knack to put the words in a sequence that would convey my meaning without 150 page chapters! Knowing you, you'll re-focus and decide what's right for you....after all, it IS about you and what you want. You go girl!
Love you and I'm hoping for your happiness and contentment. Sylvia

At 8:16 PM, Blogger Lyn Cash said...

Mechele - all ya gotta do is submit. And tell Angie that I highly recommend both of you - lol.

Sylvia! *sniff, sniff* I almost called you at like 1 am when I started squirming over all of this - ha ha.

Better now. Thanks, ladies.

Rinda, thinking of you.

At 8:39 PM, Blogger Kate R said...

It's a tough way to make a sorta- living isn't it? But when I read this I'm reminded that there are some great peeps out there ..Thanks.


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