Having It Both Ways

A storm rolled in yesterday afternoon, producing rain, sleet (or hail – we weren’t sure) and then snow. I love all the looming shadows and the layers of cloud here.

I was IMing with one of my Critique Partners yesterday, about how I’m hitting this new place in my writing career. KAK (who just redesigned her blog AND actually posted to it here) is pre-published and is hitting the querying and submitting now. She was catching up with me on how Sapphire is doing, and I said it seems to be doing really well, though I make a point of not looking at sales rankings, etc. (With the glaring exception of that run on the Carina Press website, which I caught by surprise and then all the people who love me kept checking and telling me that I was still #1. That was pretty damn fun.) One way I knew was that my Carina editor, the insightful Deb Nemeth, emailed to ask if I was sending them more BDSM romance. Check that, she said “you are submitting more right?” and then said things about building readerships and frequency of publishing and so on and so forth and other things that I just don’t like to keep in my head for very long. KAK holds marketing stuff in her head much better than I do – one of the reasons I love her – and she said that Deb is right and that you need 3-4 books a year to build a readership. And I asked her if she wanted the email address for my boss at the day job.

Okay, I might have been whining a little bit.

Because she said, hey, you should be happy that editors are ASKING for your work. (I may have mentioned that my Ellora’s Cave editor, the lovely Grace Bradley, has been making similar noises.) I was chastened. I should be grateful. I *am* grateful.

The thing is, they ask what I’m working on and the novel I’m finishing is not one they’re asking for. So far, nobody is really asking for The Body Gift, either. So, I’m in this funny place where I have limited writing time and I’m spending it writing the books nobody is asking for instead of the ones they really want.

I’m insane, right?

I’ve seen career writers talk about this particular struggle – the work you want to write vs. the work they want to pay for. From that I know that this will never change. Charlaine Harris wrote the Sookie books way longer than she wanted to because of this. And you keep reminding yourself how tremendously lucky you are that they want to pay you to write more.

But then there’s that other reason we write. The love of it. “To touch the hem of the gown that is art itself” as Ann Patchett says. (Yes, I’m still reading that book. I went back, slowed way down and now I’m highlighting great lines to share here.)

I suspect the next step will be finding a way to do both.

8 Replies to “Having It Both Ways”

  1. Ack. I can’ t imagine being in that position. In fact, it’s about the only good thing about being unpublished. Right now, I can write whatever I want. I hope to change that fact someday. I’ll be sad for losing the freeness of it all, but I’m ready. (I think.) ;o)

    Congratulations on having editors clamoring for more of your work. You’ll find your balance. And hey, I’ll keep my fingers crossed that someday writing what they want and writing what you want are the same thing.

    1. You know, B.E., pubbed writers gave me this exact advice before, too. Enjoy the time when you’re not contracted or expected to write particular things. I don’t think I enjoyed it enough. Maybe you will!

      And thanks for those good wishes – that’s the ideal world.

  2. Has anybody suggested cloning, yet? You have your clones feed the fan base, while you create art.

    And by “clones”, of course, I mean “interns”.

    Is that wrong?

    1. It’s a funny thing, Kev – there are certainly writers accused of having minions to do the drafting. No one admits to it. I always think of “Multiplicity” though!

  3. My first book is coming out in January, for which I feel SO fortunate and excited. I have another in this connected series on submission (fingers crossed) AND I’m doing edits on the third, with the fourth started…and so far no one is asking me for more. Or for any of these! LOL. So, as you say, I’m writing from the heart but hoping the world building is going to click with SOMEbody in 2012! My CP keeps asking me if maybe I should write something else just in case the Ancient Egypt series doesn’t light the world on fire but I’m all about that time zone right now. So, writing for love of it but hopeful! Enjoyed your post as always!

    1. I think there are no better reasons to write than out of love and hope, Veronica. There will be time enough in the years ahead to weigh your choices. January is coming soon!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *