Friday, March 6, 2009

A Big Decision

I am considering putting all publishing attempts on hold.

I still have queries out, so I have not made the decision yet. But I am questioning whether, at this time of my life, it would even be a good thing to get a publishing contract. Whether I even want one at all. Sound strange? Read on for an explanation.

I am 43 years old. When I was 35, I had my first child. She has Autism. I don't talk about it much here because I consider it an invasion of her privacy. She has a high-functioning form of Autism, which means it will be possible, with a lot of hard work, for her to lead an independent life.

Assume I get a publishing contract. If she fails to become independent, do I really want it on my conscience that I didn't work with her enough because I was trying to meet publishing deadlines?

I write in my spare time, mostly when my daughter is in bed, and odd hours on the weekend. After all, I don't have to spend every minute at her side, and my Neo makes it possible for me to write and still be accessable to her. I don't think I'll ever stop writing. What I'm considering changing is my attempts to publish anything I write. Like Emily Dickenson, I'll just let my writings accumulate. Unlike Emily Dickenson, I hope I don't die before any of it is published.

It's actually a pretty exciting thing to contemplate. I could finish Metamorphosis, which is the temporary (and probably defunct) title of my Forging a Legend trilogy. I've been sitting on Book Two and Three in my brain all this time, hoping for a publishing contract--or at least an agent--before I write the rest. Were I to unleash the muse, the words would just flow from me. I could also write several books in the Starcaster series (which is the name of that series, as well as the name of the first novel). In seven years, I will be fifty and my daughter will be fifteen. How many novels can a stifled muse write in seven years? I'm thinking five or so. Add that to the books I already have, and that makes three Metamorphosis titles and four Starcaster titles. So I wouldn't have all my eggs in one basket.

And my beta readers--the ones who have been wanting to read the next books--would be able to read them as I write them.

Far from being disappointed in this line of thinking, I'm finding it oddly liberating.

15 comments:

  1. I think it's natural to look toward the future and have some kind of plan, even for those of us who are bad at planning. Your situation sounds more difficult than most and it got me thinking of what will happen when my wife and I start having children (in 2-4 years, we're still new at this). I respect you for being so candid about it, but I'm probably too far removed to give you more than a pat on the back and some comment about "finding a balance of responsibility and creativity."

    Your priorities being what they are, I'd say write what you can and when you can; go for the contract, but make sure your agent/editor are aware of your situation when the fine print is discussed. Some, I'm sure, are heartless bastards, but they have lives, children, and problems too. If you have to back out of a deal, or take longer, or keep trying... all of that is understandable. Just don't give up, I guess.

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  2. I'm pretty much with T.D. up there. What you're saying makes a lot of sense for your situation, but it's definitely something to think about carefully--as I'm sure you are.

    It's very interesting seeing your excitement at the end of this post. You're talking about writing for its own sake, for the love of it, and nothing else matters when you do that. The publishing industry, agents, contracts...all that is null, and what matters is doing what you love. I try to do that, but it's impossible to shut the door all the way, all the time.

    Just the very thought, though--damn does that sound good. I can practically smell the freedom. Good luck with this decision.

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  3. I think you've made a wise descision here. Children can't wait, and autism doesn't make it any easier.

    Editors don't want to wait either.

    I'd rather not have to balance the two eitehr. {half-smile}

    Anne Elizabeth Baldwin

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  4. T.D. - I don't think I could give it up entirely, at least not for long. The only time I really stopped writing was when I was pregnant, and that was because I was on bed rest. It's not like I've lost interest.

    Kristin - It is interesting how it becomes a matter of freedom when you don't have to worry about the pesky publication problem.

    Anne - I was especially interested in getting your perspective. Balancing can be difficult to achieve, and do I really even want to balance my child to begin with?

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  5. This is really such a personal decision. I think a lot of prayer and a lot of pondering are what I would recommened. I do think there are agents and editors who would understand your situation and know that your family would always come first, but on the other hand, there's no guarantee that you'll end up with someone like that. Whatever you decide, I certainly wish you all the best with your writing and with life in general.

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  6. Random person checking in.

    All i can offer is this:
    If you feel like you could unleash a torrent of words (or your muse could) than its best advisable to do it. What happens if when you finally sit down to write those words they are stale and lack the passion they do now? What happens if they are not there? Probably you'll still have the passion, but at least with certain scenes you'll think: I loved what i had planned what was it? You'll end up writing a sorta recollection of it, but as grand as what u could now.

    I have had this happen to me with certain scenes. When you have a great idea and you say, no i won't write it now and spoil it, i'll wait until i get to that point in the book, and then you get there and you realize, this will never be as good as it was x months ago when it was first created.

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  7. Balancing with your daughter is a very good question. My Dad chose to delay starting a family until he finished graduate school so that school wouldn't interfere with being a father. He didn't expect to have a mildly handicapped daughter, either, let alone one whose handicaps turned more severe in my early twenties. I think he was particularly glad of his choice under the circumstances. {Smile}

    Anne Elizabeth Baldwin

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  8. Anon - that's great advice and one that I try to follow. I have three chapters and several other additional scenes already written, just waiting for their place in the book. Since I'm reworking some scenes in book one, it has regenerated the passion for book two.

    On the other hand, I wrote three chapters of another book entirely--a Hollywood Romance--then I lost the passion altogether. And how can you write a romance without passion as a writer?

    Anne, your father was very wise. I waited until my husband and I were both ready. You never know what life is going to dish out.

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  9. I really admire your priorities. I would only add that publishing doesn't neccessitate a publishing deadline, except for edits. I know Andrew Vacchs writes a book, then sells it. He never works on a contract because if things come up in his law practice, he wants the flexibility to attend to those priorities. You could be published and just never take a two book contract.

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  10. Something I didn't know was an option! Thank you!

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  11. I was shaking my head up until I read the bit about the beta readers being able to get their eager hands on the next in the series . . . .
    In anycase, I can't help but think that the disappointment with dealing with delays and rejections might be pushing you towards the holding off trying to find a publisher.

    Says me, one who was so dismayed by the entire process that I haven't written since May of last year!

    Continue to write because you love to write, write stores for your happy bouncing beta readers :-)
    Do what makes you feel happy and brings joy in your life.

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  12. I can't deny that I find querying stressful, but that's never stopped me in the past. I see some of the publishing schedules that some authors are on, and I just wonder if I really want to add that kind of stress to my life.

    I love what you said in your final paragraph. Yes, that's what I'll do!

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  13. I was very impressed with my father's decision. Especially since I think it turned out pretty well for him. {SMILE}

    Anne Elizabeth Baldwin

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  14. I understand the liberating feeling. It's exactly how I felt when I decided to bring out The Demo Tapes at last.

    There are lots of options, and nothing you're deciding now is set in stone.

    Keep feeling liberated!

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  15. Thanks, Susan! I've been taking advantage of that feeling, and I've been writing a lot!

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