Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Closet Writer

I feel like I'm at an AA meeting right now.

"Hi, my name's Amy Sonnichsen and I'm an aspiring writer."

I've been a closet writer for a long time. One of the reasons I started this blog was because I thought I was ready to come out of the closet. Unfortunately, I've let fear get the better of me, and I've stayed mostly in the closet. I'll lurk at the door and peek out, but mainly I stick with the safe things: writing about my kids, about funny China things, avoiding the fact that I spend a good chunk of time writing novels for 12- to 15-year-old young adults.

So, here I am - ta da!

Why have I felt foolish coming out in the open about the fact that I write novels?

Probably the main reason is fear: fear of rejection, fear of failure. What if I'm never published? What if I go on being an aspiring writer the rest of my life? Is all this time I'm spending on my novels a waste of time?

I think what's finally given me the courage to come out is that I've realized what I'm doing isn't a waste of time. No matter what happens.

Why?

Because this journey I'm on is faith-stretching and makes me grow.

The world of publishing is a jungle. I didn't realize this fact when I started this expedition. I started off on a pleasure walk, and have ended up somewhere close to the Amazon fighting wild boars and wading through piranha-infested waters.

A blog I follow, QueryTracker.net, gave the following statistics:

"Writing can be a discouraging business. Less than 1 out of 100 writers who completes and queries a novel receives an offer of representation from a literary agent. Those lucky and/or talented enough to be in that 1% are still not guaranteed the joy of seeing their book in print. Only something like 60% of agented books sell to publishers (That includes books from established authors)."

Bottom line: aspiring writers like me have a tough go of it. And there's no guarantee of light at the end of the tunnel. Rejection is real, almost constant. Even if I'm the next Eudora Welty, there's still no guarantee anyone's going to feel passionate enough about my books to represent me. They need books that will sell. They're in it for the money. No one's pretending otherwise.

Where's the encouragement in all this? Why should I come out of the closet when there's so much set against me?
  1. Humility: realizing it's okay to fail at something in front of other people
  2. Transparency: letting people know my struggles
  3. A chance to grow: I'm learning stuff all the time
In the spirit of that last point, if I'm learning things, maybe I can share them. Maybe they'll help other people who are going through different, but similar, struggles. It's not just aspiring authors who can relate to the fear of failure, the fear of watching a dream die -- we all can relate to that in some way or other.

We're in this journey together. Cheesy? Definitely. True? Absolutely.

So, greet me, get to know me, give me a virtual hug. I'm Amy Sonnichsen, and one of the many hats I wear is the dunce's cap of an aspiring writer.

5 comments:

  1. i have lots of writing friends...lots of connections...let's put that to use! and when you become big and get asked to come and speak, you can become one of my clients too!

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  2. Very nice post about the business. Laughed when I read the first part about coming out of the closet. I'll have to dig out a piece I wrote about that a long time ago for the Blood Red Pencil blog. Look for it in the next few weeks.

    BTW, from the quality of writing in your blog posts, I don't think you are going to have any trouble getting published. :-)

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  3. I came here from your first page at the Anonymatie. Kudos for coming out! You're right, the journey may be tough, but it stretches and expands. One bonus I've found: fellow aspiring writers. Welcome!

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  4. Thanks Natalie, Maryann, and Yat-Yee! I feel hugely encouraged. Thanks for the kind words.

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  5. Love the coming out of the closet! You can do this! And yes, doing a Work-In-Progress Wednesday can help you stay accountable to yourself and to other writers. Plus you're not alone -- you're doing it with a bunch of other aspiring authors! Good luck and hang in there!

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