Thursday, August 19, 2010

Introspection or The Land of Limbo

It might seem odd to have a blog post entitled "Introspection" as for the most part I tend to find the purpose of blogs in general is just that. To whatever degree, a blog is meant to be an online journal in some capacity - even if the opinions expressed extend no further than a book review, people in their blogs are trying to share a part of who they are with the world at large. Hence the often asked question by a blogger starting out, "Who would want to read about my personal thoughts anyway?"

Actually, I imagine in this day and age that question isn't as oft asked as it ought to be. We live in a time when the question is more like, "Who wouldn't want to read about my personal thoughts!" Which, of course, isn't really a question in the first place.

But I digress.

Needless to say calling an individual post "Introspection" in a medium that is sort of all about that just that seems a little redundant. But I'm calling it that. So there.

And maybe now I'll move onto the post itself, and stop this analysis of the name of said post. I mean, I know I write long posts, but this could get ridiculous: Now I think I'll analyse why I used my first sentence . . . oy vey I say, oy vey.

You may have noticed, or at least I flatter myself to think you may have noticed, that I have been absent since May. I haven't really. I've been here, at my desk, every day for the last two and a half months. And I have contemplated posting a blog entry at least once a week. But I haven't. Obviously. Until now.

Why now? Not so sure exactly. Maybe sheer procrastination, but I have procrastinated many a time before this. I'm not sure I can answer that question really.

But what I did want to answer was the question: why not before now?

Because, as ever, I think it serves as an interesting educational tool. As those of you who read my blog regularly know, I don't tend to post about things that I don't find have a value outside of a "hey this is what's new with me" kind of thing. I like to teach, hopefully touch upon something that one or two of you will find sincerely interesting. Okay, to be fair, sometimes I just advertise myself and my work as well here, but I think I'm allowed that every once in a while. It is my blog after all.

Why not before now, then. Why not before now.

I've been having a very interesting time, of late, with my writing career. I have been, for several months now, stuck in a kind of limbo land. And it is upon having spent a fair amount of time here (and I'm still in limbo land btw, I've gotten to know the community, the store has this brand of yogurt I really like, basically I've set down some roots you see) that I thought there might be something worth saying about it.

Because you often hear about the trials of getting published. Or the success/horror stories after the fact. But I do think it's rare indeed that we speak of the limbo land. The land of nothing in particular bad happening, but then again nothing particular good happening. The land of nothing in particular happening at all.

And I know I'm not the only one who has visited (though I can't speak to whether others have spent quite so long as I have here, like I said, really like the yogurt), and I tend to feel in general that the things I go through and the feelings I feel are likely felt and shared with others. I hardly flatter myself in thinking I am the only person to be going through something. So I thought I'd share a bit about my personal experience here.

Limbo land is a strange place. And I can only speak of it in relation to what I've been going through. Which is what I plan on doing. Now.

To begin: I have two books published (this in and of itself is a crazy amazing thing). Two books which I think are rather good if I do say so myself, which I am honoured to say have been very well received, which have even been nominated for (and in some cases won) various awards. This is all good. I have a wonderful new agent, I have a lovely relationship with my publishers. I think in general my reputation within the industry is quite sound, but it helps that there is a great deal of mutual respect involved.

I do readings, I am invited to conventions, I speak to people on all topics, even if I haven't been asked to, and I go to parties and meet the coolest people in the industry.

This is all well and good. And it should be enough right? It's all pretty darn swell right?

It is. And I thoroughly enjoy all of it.

But here's the thing. I'm an author. I am not a convention goer. I am not an autograph giver. I write books. More importantly, while I love my books that have been published, I am not the writer of two books and that's it. I am not Harper Lee (in more ways than one, especially with regards to the whole literary genius thing - though my kitty is called Atticus). I am an author. With other ideas in my brain. Other stories to share. And two complete novels. No, not ALEX and TIMOTHY. I'm talking two other complete novels. One Adult, one YA. I am actually the author of four books would you believe. I personally find it rather hard for me to believe it myself as I never thought I'd be able to write one let alone four.

And I want to sell these books. My agent and I have been working steadily on doing so. But it's been tough. It's been tough for a lot of people. The economy is not in a good place, publishers are being even more picky in what they choose to publish (as well they should), and so I have been faced with some rejection. And this happens. To everyone. So my agent and I keep along, subbing my books, in the ever hopeful hope . . . yes . . . hopeful hope . . . that someone will want to publish them.

And this is where you enter Limbo land.

As anyone trying to get an agent, trying to get a publisher, trying to get into university, trying to get a job . . . as any of you know, when you are in the submission process the wait can just become a huge burden in and of itself. The wait has weight. It seems like an almost physical entity. And it's really tough to focus on other things, like, for example, writing a blog.

But life goes on. And it isn't altogether bad. You continue as an author with your published books, giving talks, going to events. You spend time with your friends, your family. You turn 30. You see wonderful movies. And you learn that you have been accepted into two anthologies (one for short stories, and another, an essay anthology about The Hunger Games - LOVE me my Hunger Games, SO excited about MONCKINGJAY!! . . . but I digress . . .). And this is all good.

Still. You are an author of novels. You want to be published again.

And still nothing (neither good nor bad) happens.

Then, like the professional you are, you decide to write another book. Because that's the one thing you have control over. You also decide in your blog post to go from second person back to first person as it's starting to get annoying. Ehem. I decide to write another book. And on working on that, I come up with an idea for another book, and so write the proposal for that.

And still . . . nothing happens.

And still nice other things happen, good food, fun birthday parties.

Life isn't bad. But life is also frustrating you. Life just is. And you want something to just happen.

For me, I have been in this kind of space for a while now. Relishing the moments I get with ALEX and TIMOTHY, but knowing deep down that I want to have other work published. That I want readers to get to know other facets of my writing. That I have other stories to tell that I think are equally fantabulous. And that, let's be honest, I really want to see the covers for. Because covers are awesome. I don't want to have only had one chance at publication with the ALEX series. But I am beyond grateful I had that chance in the first place.

So you can see what a strange place this is to be in. On the one hand living the dream of so many would be authors, and on the other hand everything seeming static, seeming immovable.

You can see why it is difficult to blog under such circumstances as you don't want to appear ungrateful for what you have. But you know that it isn't wrong to have ambition either. And you know that other writers, in whatever stage they might be in with their careers, understand the drive to share one's work with others. A lack of news (either good or bad) makes posting updates impossible, and when one goes through limbo land, well the thoughtful posts become tricky too.

Because the thoughts one has in limbo land are of every nature. I have thought every thought in the book. I have been giddy with excitement upon starting work on a new idea. I have been zen in thinking, "This too shall pass." I have also felt upset, understandably. I have felt quiet confidence. I have felt loud confidence. I have felt hungry.

I feel hungry a lot.

And to blog about these feelings in the moment of these feelings is to be the worst kind of self indulgent. So I didn't blog.

And yet I blog today.

What's the moral of the story? It's hard to say as the story isn't over. I am still in limbo land, I am still fighting personal demons and I am still working on the next project. I suppose the moral of the story is, if you are feeling somewhat similar, if you have been going through, not exactly a rough patch, but a patch of nothingness, that you aren't alone. And that just because limbo land is a bit more complicated a place than totally awesome land and totally terrible land, it doesn't mean that we as writers don't have to contend with being here as well on occasion.

I also think it is important to stress the whole moving onto another project thing. Because I know the days I am happiest in limbo land are when I'm excited about a new work. Days like those I am even grateful to be in limbo land because I have the time to work on this new bit of writing, and am not burdened by edits, or negotiations, or promotion. And I don't mean that facetiously. Edits etc are great in their own way, but sometimes you get so involved with the other parts of publishing that you find yourself getting pulled further and further away from the act of just telling stories. Which is why we became authors in the first place.

In any event. I'm not asking for any sympathy whatsoever in my posting about limbo land. Like I said already, it isn't altogether bad. And I would hardly ask anyone for sympathy when in general my life is quite delightful especially compared to many. All I wanted to do was post about something that isn't often talked about. The uncomfortable place of not being totally content, nor totally miserable. The place where some ambitions have been achieved, but many more still sit off in the distance. A place we all visit, but we hope not to stay too long.

Limbo land. Like Disneyland except there are no rides, no cotton candy, no mascots. No awesome. But . . . the yogurt is outstanding.

(I was also thinking, if any of you have had a similar limbo land experiences and want to share your thoughts in the comments section, I think people would appreciate knowing they were not alone)

As for the blog, well my hope is that I'm back for a while now. I have been collecting links, so I will share some with you tomorrow as per my old habit of posting links on Fridays. I have been also collecting brain stuff, by which I mean thoughts, and have a couple blog entries planned on a variety of subjects.

The basic gist is . . . I'm back. Though I was never really gone.

And I really did miss you guys.

Also here is a picture of my new kitty Atticus (have had him for two and a half weeks), who right now thinks my typing on the computer is a game where he gets to chase my fingers. Oh what fun.


kellion said...

I hope you get that elusive third (and fourth) book out in the world soon. The wait is no fun at any point.

Hanna C. Howard said...

I have a cat that could be Atticus' brother. His name is Severus--a man significantly less *outwardly* noble, but definitely one of my favorites.

Limbo Land really is an interesting place. I think it can drive you a little bit insane. I'm in the "inching toward publication" limbo land--which has wonderful ups and terrible downs, but on the whole is just uneventful. It leaves way too much time for contemplation, which can be good and bad. It feels like bobbing on placid open water, not going forward or backward or anywhere at all.

But at least when you're just floating, there is plenty of time for re-reading the Hunger Games. :)

Thank you for sharing. Like you say, it's good to know there are other people in similar boats.

Meika said...

Okay, so Atticus? Adorable. He also just so happens to look JUST like the baby version of my kitty, Brian! It's uncanny!

peajayar said...

I never called it Limbo Land AND I recognise it. Thank you for writing about this place. It's at least in part why I don't blog very often. Nothing to say, I think. Nothing happening. Am glad to have read this post.

Sajidah said...

Thank you for this post - it's so real. You've articulated that in-between space so well.

May your hopes for your other two books come to be. And may it be come speedily. :)

Adrienne said...

Kellion - thank you very much! I've been asking my readers to keep their fingers crossed for me, but as it has been a while I worry they might now get stuck like that

READERS - every once in a while you are allowed to uncross your fingers to get the blood flowing again, but please do go back to crossing them on occasion

Hanna - good name choice :) And yes, it does feel a lot like bobbing in place doesn't it? That's a good way of putting it.

Meika - isn't he just?? And I'd love to see a pic of Brian, to see what my future has in store for me (you can email it to my gmail account linked on the blog), if that would be okay?

peajayar - you're welcome. I'm glad my post resonated with you. Like I said, it's good to know we aren't alone in this.

Sahjidah - you're welcome. And also thank you for your well wishes, they sincerely mean a lot to me.

Bev Katz Rosenbaum said...

Great post, Adrienne. I am your neighbour in Limbo Land--come borrow a cup of sugar anytime!

Stephen Duncan said...

Caught your post on AW and thought I'd drop by.

So in Limbo right now. Last year at this time I thought I had the lit world on a string. An agent at William Morris Endeavor, and what I thought was a very marketable YA/para in the vein of Crichton. And then in March my agent, luckily before submission, decided the fiction market was impossible and culled his catalogue to only celebrity fiction.

Dumped for Jennifer Love Hewitt.

He rec'd a few agent friends, none of which panned out. ICM decided to take a look and asked for an exclusive, but that also missed.

Now I'm stuck. The idea of querying again has stolen my passion. One WIP sits on my computer, untouched and these whinging doubts have crept into my mind. I swear, I think I'm at my rejection limit.

I know, I know. Press on. But seriously. When is enough?

lucyp said...

So that's what they call this place. No wonder I haven't been blogging much. But you're right, the yoghurt is pretty good.

elissacruz said...

Ah. Limbo land. I've been here for a year now, eating the yogurt with you. (It is remarkably delicious yogurt, though.)

I, too, have an agent who is working hard to sell my book (in my case, it's my first). I've written another book, and am now working on a third. I can't say I'm in a bad place, but it's not a good place to be, either. It's just a place where nothing happens.

But I am grateful for the opportunities I have had. Not many people land an agent with their first book like I have, and I've also been one of the people behind a writing-related blog that has made it to the 'big time' now, which has been fun. But my personal writing career feels stalled at this point. It's a hard place to be, where almost everything is out of your hands and nothing is moving very fast.

Anyway, you certainly aren't alone.

Here, have another yogurt.

Michael Booth said...

Forgive me if this suggestion is too obvious, but why don't you try publishing one of your manuscripts as an ebook with Amazon or Smashwords or (better yet) both?

Ron Smith said...

Thanks for sharing this, Adrienne.

It's very personal and real. Kudos.

And after having read Alex, I have no doubt your other works will be on shelves soon.