You know the one - dark and musty, scattered with over-edited pages of your brilliant manuscript, ripe with the scent of anxiety and heartache! We've all been there, some of us longer than others!
I believe my wallowing in the pit lasted about five years. Oh, the first couple of years weren't so bad - I wrote some stuff (never finished), rewrote that brilliant manuscript, queried and queried, and completed some short stories. Then, the weight of 'unpublished' took its toll. I became embittered about the whole process. I questioned my reasons for writing. I let the rejections suck the life out of me*.
And one day, I stopped writing.
I still talked writing, but as they say, I wasn't walking the walk. The Pit of Despair was winning and I considered myself a fraud. I seriously considered giving up writing. Forever!
But a beacon of light called NaNoWriMo stirred my lifeless body. The Miracle Pill* that would bring back my true love, my passion for storytelling. Don't get me wrong, it didn't happen overnight and I certainly had my doubts. So I went into the project with a couple of self-imposed rules - a healthy dose of realism was necessary if I were to ever be free of the Pit of Despair.
1. I would write a crazy, over-the-top story. Crazy over-the-top stories have a way of writing themselves and my expectations for publication would be taken off the table (as opposed to setting out to write a medieval romance, my genre of choice).
2. I would find a willing reader to send every day's section to keep me accountable and focusing on the beacon of light versus the hole I had suddenly found warm and comfortable.
3. I would tell a story - not write a book, not search for the perfect sentence and certainly not sniff any of that fairy dust that brings visions of multi-book deals and agent auctions.
4. I would have fun storming the castle*!
There were moments when I started seeing stars and I had to tamp down that 'publishing' expectation. I had to stick with the plan to write for the sake of writing. To renew my love of storytelling! I ended up writing the 50,000 words, ended up finishing the story (a huge defeat over the Pit of Despair) and I found my happy place!
This is the Unpublished Survival Guide and, I think, my best tool in my survival toolkit (lesson learned recently) is to do what I love. You all know the saying "Do what you love, the money will follow." But it's not about the money, it's about the happiness and joy. If you're in the Pit of Despair, worrying about publishing, trends, rejections, accolades, you're not pursuing your true love. First and foremost, write for you - for your joy and happiness. That's the Happily Ever After I had been missing!
Please tell us your Pit of Despair stories or share with your best tool in your 'unpublished survival toolkit'. Those who are published, maybe you can share with us your best tool in your 'published survival toolkit'. And any reference to The Princess Bride is gladly welcomed!
Janet S. Corcoran - an unpublished storyteller who has rekindled her love of writing. She blogs on a daily basis at www.jscorcoran.blogspot.com and is happy to be back in her writing chair!
*Reference: The Princess Bride - one of my favorite movies!!