The Five Stresses To Being a (semi)Unpublished Writer

Suge By Suge, 27th Jan 2014 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Writing>Tips

No matter what job or hobby you have, there are always a certain amount of stresses that make you wonder why you continue to do what you do. A writer isn't exempt, and as such, I've encountered many irritations that make me question why I continue doing what I do. It doesn't pay the bills but in the end, it's what I am.

The Five Stresses To Being a (semi)Unpublished Writer

I’ve been writing since I was a depressive, angsty little teen who hated the world. I started writing to have an outlet, even though it was just a spiral notebook. Once I started, I couldn’t stop. I started with poetry and gradually worked up to different types of poetry (sonnets, haikus, sestina’s, weird shit that sounds like foreign sex positions).

From there, I advanced into story writing. As a child I used to write stories all the time. Mostly they ended in death (which says all kinds of weird shit about me as a child), but they were merely for my entertainment. No one ever saw them.

Fast forward twenty some odd years and I’m thirty and I still enjoy writing. I write poetry all the time and have many journals dedicated to my useless prose. I’ve done poetry readings and I self-published two sad little books of poems that maybe eleven people (friends) bought.

Nowadays, while I still write poetry, I find myself more interested in writing stories. I adore it and I do it often. But there are five stresses that make being a (semi) unpublished writer unbearable.

#5 HAVE ALL THE STORY IDEAS!

Being a writer is amazing. If you’re anything like me, and you’re gifted with more imagination than an ADHD kids on Surge (does anyone remember that?), then you have story ideas dropping out your anus.

They suddenly take over your life, because you don’t want to lose them, you don’t want to forget them so you dedicate your life to writing down every story idea EVER!

Now, I know most people don’t see how this can be time consuming or even life ruining but they’ve obviously never fiddled with a journal and a pen while driving on the freeway. In addition, I’ve woken up at three in the morning to write the premise of what I think will be the next great American novel, only to read it several hours later after adequate sleep and wonder if I accidentally drank the Nyquil again.

They can’t all be winners. Most of them aren’t.

It sounds like a great idea to have all these ideas floating around in your head but there needs to be a process. How do you weed out the great ideas from the really horrible ones? You need to sit down and find out what’s been done, what has potential, and what you should be shot for dreaming up. I could spend all day writing premises for potential novels or and come to the conclusion that all of it is complete bullshit. I throw those away. The rest lie within my laptop, half completed diatribes that make no sense because I ran out of steam halfway through. This brings us to number four.

#4 HAVING A BEGINNING AND AN ENDING, BUT NO MIDDLE.

This probably doesn’t sound like a horrible idea. You are obviously not a writer. You have obviously not spent seven hours at the laptop (which is unhealthy I might add) toiling over this amazing story you just HAD to start writing, only to find out that you don’ t know how to connect point A to point B. It isn’t uncommon for a writer to have a beginning and an ending but no middle.

It’s fucking annoying, but it’s not uncommon.

The best way to deal with this is to abandon the story altogether and go out and get a real job. Okay maybe not. I tend to do a bit of brainstorming to get the pieces to coincide with one another.

It’s hard when the beginning is “Character A is an orphan” and your ending is “Character A was a princess all along.” Sounds easy to connect the dots with that one, but is it believable? Does it flow? Are you consistent? Is it entertaining? There are so many questions that need answering. Another would be “will my readers know if I’m completely full of shit and have no idea what I’m doing?”

There is, of course, the reverse method where you have a beginning and middle but no ending or middle and ending but no beginning. Some of my stories wind up with no ending. And several more have no middle. Why am I writing again?

I do a lot of spider webbing and story boarding. I’ll start with one idea and attach other ideas to that one idea until I’ve come up with a solution to the lack of meat in my story.
Sometimes it’s not as easy. Sometimes that doesn’t work. Then I have to leave my hovel of an apartment and saunter amongst the daywalkers until an inspiration strikes me and then I run home to write. Inspiration is everywhere, but sometimes it doesn’t come easy. Speaking of easy…

#3 PEOPLE PITCH THEIR HORRIBLE STORY IDEAS TO YOU

As a writer, you have to deal with the fact that most people around you aren’t writers. But they want to be. They will go through terrible lengths to tell you that.

It is akin to being a photographer and people expecting you to do their shitty family portraits for free. It doesn’t work like that. Not for everyone. Sometimes the idea is great and you want to write that story but mostly, you want to write what’s in your own head.

I adore my friends, I really do, but I hate it when someone approaches me and says, “I’ve always wanted a story written about INSERT LAME IDEA HERE. Will you write my story?”

It’s not that I don’t want it. It’s just that I don’t want to.

It’s your story and though it’s probably a good one, and could be a potential bestseller, it is not my story and more times often than not, I’m not sure how to put it all together. Please stop asking me.

I had a friend suggest a story to me and this one time, it did fill me with inspiration. I mulled it over and suffered with it until I’d finished it. I was so proud of it. It was like my own illegitimate child and I wanted everyone to know how great it was. I sent it out to many people. Most people found it really weird, scary and twisted. I write off the wall shit so that was a normal reaction.

But the friend who had suggested it to me was less than enthusiastic when she read it.

“I didn’t see it like this in my head. It was different when I envisioned it,” she said as my face flushed red in both anger and defeat. She’s lucky I had nothing sharp nearby. Suffice it to say, she wanted to edit it and have me rewrite it. I told her I was going to shit on her car and was on my merry way. Suge don’t change for no one!

The point is, if she wanted it written her way, she should have kept the idea to herself and written it her way.

#2 NO TIME TO WRITE

I’ve been writing for most of my life and while there haven’t been many to read what I’ve written, I still continue. Writing is a joy of mine. Writing is my passion. Like all writers, I hope to someday be published and read by millions.

But since that hasn’t happened yet, well, I’ve had to a get a day job. At the current moment, to keep myself in the pitiful lap of semi-luxury, I work as a language teacher. I teach a tribal language to tribal kids. I work from eight to five. When I’m not doing that, I help take care of my nieces. My grandfather is in the hospital so I’m checking up on him too. The house is dirty and I need to clean it. Oh my friend is having a crisis? I’ll be right there. The cat needs to go to the vet. I have no food and I need to go to the store. It’s whose birthday? I’ll run out and get something. By the way, I need to go to the doctor. I have things wrong with me. Oh today is that OTHER doctors appointment. I’ll get my coat and run on out to that as well.

As you can see, life fucking happens. For me, the only time I have to write is when I’m either riddled with insomnia and NOT franticly cleaning the house or on my days off, which are few and far between. I have to make an appointment to write it seems.

I make the effort for national novel writing month. I make it a point to write for at least a month constantly. After that, it’s all about finding the time and the peace.

If I’m not feeling particularly inspirational, or motivated, I won’t bother attempting to write. If I have to force myself, it’s going to be shit. I want to want to do it. No exceptions. I find that when I finish my stories (it’s rare but it happens) I feel as though I climbed a mountain. I wipe the sweat from my brow, eager to show everyone my story. Except…

#1 FINISHED PRODUCT, NO AUDIENCE

Fuck. I didn’t see that one coming. When I was young and dumb, I went to college for English and creative writing, and I thought that once I graduated, I would enter the world of the writer, with publishers eager to publish me.

That never happened.

Twelve years later and that still hasn’t happened.

When I decided that I wanted writing to be a large part of my life, I knew that it wouldn’t be completely without struggle. I was stupid in thinking that straight out of college, I’d suddenly be the next hot author. In all honesty, most writers don’t even go to school for writing. Most writers just pick up the pen and go at it one day. Seriously. I’ve been doing it wrong.

I decided I wanted to be the next William Shakespeare of prose poetry. I submitted a manuscript to several different literary agents and publishers. It was rejected by everyone. Of course, my friends and family all told me to keep trying. Someone would eventually publish me.

That really hasn’t happened. I can’t even pawn my stories off to my friends. I’ve done poetry readings and my poetry was well received (or I used too many big words and no one understood what I was saying) so I have a slight audience for poetry. And still, I struggle with making a living out of being a writer.

In the past, I self-published two books of poetry. My friends were eager to read my work in book form. That didn’t go over as well as I’d hoped. For starters, my first book was random bits of poetry that had nothing to do with each other. My second book was a little bit well-formed, as it was about self-mutilation and I managed to stay on topic. But no one bought it.

Shit I couldn’t even sell my work to my parents. It’s hard to stay positive when you want to make a career out of your hobby and it seems impossible. Maybe I’m trying too hard or not hard enough.

Yet, here I am, still writing. I write because I love to write. I have ideas and feelings and I enjoy writing them down and expanding on them. I’ve created an entire universe in my own head. I may not have an audience and some of my stories may not have endings but I do enjoy the only art I’ve ever been good at. I try not to sweat the small shit.

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Art, Author, Creative, English, Fiction, Hobby, Job, Journaling, Love, Nonfiction, Novel, Novels, Poem, Poet, Poetry, Stories, Stresses, Suge, Words, Writer, Writing

Meet the author

author avatar Suge
I'm Suge. I've been writing since I was a teen. I've written everything from poetry to novels to scripts that I threw away to labels to shampoo bottles. Well, maybe not those last two.

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Comments

author avatar Mark Gordon Brown
27th Jan 2014 (#)

When I started as an online writer I thought it would be easier, I thought the money would flood in. I did not realize how much other work there is to do, such as promoting and so forth. I would love to be a published author for a book, I have started it but seem to have hit a wall.

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author avatar Retired
28th Jan 2014 (#)

I sympathize with you. I wish you great success. Whatever you do, keep writing. You don't know where your work will land.

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author avatar Sivaramakrishnan A
28th Jan 2014 (#)

There are many aspiring writers but only few successful ones to make a living out of writing. Some great writers also had their works rejected so we all have hope! siva

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author avatar Suge
28th Jan 2014 (#)

Thanks for your words. I think all writers know the struggle. I think it keeps us on our toes. Some day it'll happen, it's just a matter of when.

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author avatar Phyl Campbell
7th Feb 2014 (#)

I've self-pubbed 5 books in the past 3 years. It's a ton of hard work, and the number of people who expect you to just give your work away continues to appall me.
I laughed in a self-hating way when I read this article of yours. Most writers here have had all these experiences and done all these things.
There is a lady of FB from my state (AR) that I think you should connect with. Search under "Loud in the House of Myself." Her name is Stacy Pershell. I haven't met her personally, but we've talked via FB. She's a fellow writer, former (as far as I know) self-abuser, and I think she's even smarter than me. These things never hurt us, and might even help.

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author avatar Phyl Campbell
7th Feb 2014 (#)

Stacy Pershall, not Pershell. Sorry.

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author avatar MarilynDavisatTIERS
14th Feb 2014 (#)

Good afternoon, Suge; I can certainly relate to number 1,2,3,4, well and number 5. Guess that means all of them. Guess we will just keep writing. Thanks for the share. ~Marilyn

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