Martha Wells (marthawells) wrote,
Martha Wells

A Couple of Links, and End of Year Resolution

* How a book really can change your life: Brain function improves for DAYS after reading a novel

* 10 Charities That Encourage Reading.

* There's also First Book which I donated to this year.

And there's this post by Jessica Spotswood 2013: A Learning Year: Managing Expectations that I just read this morning and really hit me where I live.

Our experiences have been different, but this part: When you don’t get reviewed, or get the marketing that you took for granted on the first book, or sent anywhere, or end up on end-of-year lists – you feel like a disappointment. A failure. Your family and non-writing friends only know about publishing from your experience, and they ask you all the time when you’re going on tour for your next book and where you are doing events and how are your sales and why the new book isn’t in Walmart. You try to explain that most authors don’t do that and most books don’t get that and you were really lucky that first time. You try to adjust their expectations. They mean very well. But you feel like a disappointment again. And you can’t complain about being sad or hurt, because it’s true – most books don’t get that in the first place.

That is where I’ve been for most of 2013. Feeling like a failure. Like a disappointment. Like people bet big on me and I let them down.

This is where I live, pretty much. I've never had a book come out that met anybody's expectations, and I've always felt like a disappointment, I've always failed the people who bet on me. This is a job I've been doing for twenty years, and in one big way, I've never been any good at it.

(There are still readers who enjoy the books and tell me so, and that's a huge important thing to me. As a writer, you have to remember that your books' relationships with their readers are a completely separate entity from their relationships with you or their publishers, and really have nothing to do with you or their publishers. It's a factor in this business that can't be measured. But in the factors that can be measured, I continually feel like a disappointment.)

When it comes down to it, this is a job, and it's also a huge important thing to me. In the years when I couldn't sell a book or even a short story, it was a job I didn't have anymore. (A friend described a publishing crash as being like having a job where you keep coming into work every day but you've been fired, and the people don't actually want you there, but they don't tell you about it. It's only gradually, as the paychecks fail to come in and everyone's ignoring you, that you realize you don't work there anymore.) I fought to get back to it and I had help from great people, and I came back, with hopeful expectations -- that again I haven't been able to meet.

But this year I've come to a gradual decision that I don't care. I don't care how big a disappointment and a failure I am, I'm going to keep doing it. I'm going to keep doing it no matter who doesn't like it (and believe me, a lot of people don't like it) and that's just the way it's going to be.

I'm not going to allow comments on this post, and I'm not going to answer comments on it anywhere else. This was something I had to say, but it's not a conversation I want to have with anybody.

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