Why Are You Not More Successful?

Someone actually asked me that question.  Why am I not hogging up coop space at Barnes & Noble and burning up the Kindle lists and not quitting my day job?

Well, you have to give your agent something to sell.  And I haven’t done that in three years.  Not through laziness.  I simply have been taking my time and working on Holland Bay.  And some of what I’ve started wasn’t worth finishing.  Writing a book takes time.

On the other hand, I do have an edge over other writers looking for a contract.  I’m actually writing.

There have been a number of writers lately venting their annoyance at people coming up to them and saying, “I wanna write, but…”  Usually, the person says they’re too busy or they can’t find the time.  My favorite was John Scalzi’s comeback about science fiction writer Jay Lake. Jay’s undergoing cancer treatment write now.  He still works his day job.  He just underwent surgery to take out part of his liver.  He gets in 1000 words a day.

Hmm…

Let’s see.  Jay is…  um…  published?  And not by an idiot in his garage with a Lightning Source account.  He publishes with a real publisher who pays him an advance.

Regularly.

Does make me feel guilty when I don’t get a day in on writing.  But Jay does it.  It’s a priority with him.  So if he can work a day job and do chemo and even jettision a chunk of liver and still write, I can certainly fit it in between job hunting and contract work and academic needs and family.

And I do.

If you want to write, you will, too.

Or you’re not a writer.

One thought on “Why Are You Not More Successful?

  1. I post about this from time to time. I work with lawyers all day and while a few are decent people who actually wish you (the writer) the best, most despise you (the writer) for having a book published … and the more books you’ve had published, the greater the disdain (a combination of Schadenfreude and self-loathing is my guess as to what that is all about).

    All you can do is write the books as best you can and not sweat out whether or not they’re not bestsellers. The vast majority of writers (good and/or bad) are working stiffs first, writers second (based on the “all important” income scale). I used to make a ton of money doing other things but those days are long over and I don’t feel ashamed for continuing to write/getting published (no matter how many times some self-loathing lawyer/paralegal/secretary needs to feel better about themselves by saying: “So, what are you doing here?”

    Usually I remind them that they too are working for a living in a mid-size law firm, as opposed to one of the bigger boys where they’re salaries and prestige would be better served and then I do my “Jerkoff” cough (cough while saying “jerkoff”).

    As for the writing itself, you do it or you don’t. And you’re right; if you don’t, you’re not a writer. The only addition to that I’d make is whether you’re published or not is pretty much irrelevant as well. Some pretty good authors spent much of their lives waiting for an agent and/or publisher to see the light. Eddie Coyle was rejected by 39 (or some such number of) genius agents before one had the sense to represent it.

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