The futility and frustration of waiting

(Disclaimer: I’m going to be talking about specific frustrating situations in this post. I won’t be naming names, but the people involved or in the know will know what I’m talking about. This is not any attempt to passive-aggressively call anyone out; there are extenuating circumstances often involved and I’m aware of this, and I love the people involved and I try to be understanding. I’m just trying to lay everything out chronologically to get a picture of what has led me to the place where I now find myself, to encompass the entire pattern of events. This is for me, not to find fault with anyone, so please bear that in mind before feeling like I’m picking on you.)

I don’t think it will come as any great surprise to people who know me to find out that I’m not a terribly patient person. Actually, that’s not true. I don’t mind waiting for something if I know when I can expect it to happen, and when I trust the people or situation I am waiting for. That last is a bit difficult because I’m a bit of a control freak and find trust difficult to maintain. Once it’s gone, that is when I get impatient.

For anyone who has been reading my emails and tweets the past six months regularly, it’s probably apparent that I have been slipping gradually into depression, and that it has gotten to the point where I can’t write. I’m working with my doctor to try to find meds to stabilize the slide, but so far it’s not going all that well.

The thing is, a lot of the depression is, I think, about writing. Specifically, it’s about a “why do I bother?” mindset that has crept in about my writing, and a large part of that goes back to issues to waiting and patience.

I think it mostly started about a year ago, around September. That was when I decided I was going to release a print edition of Inertia, which was going to require creating a full wrap layout of the cover. The original cover layout had been done by the husband of a friend, and so I asked for them to do the back cover as well. The project got about half done, and then proceeded no further. I realized the people involved were busy and I didn’t want to impose when they were doing me a kindness, so I decided to swallow the expense and hire someone to do the new cover layout. My friend was very hurt and offended when she found out about it and that pretty much began a six-month spiral that effectively ended the friendship.

(also, in the process of trying to hire someone to do the cover layout, I spoke with three different cover artists who never got back to me, or who began a dialogue with me about the project and then just disappeared. A large part of why I hired Michael at Booknibbles is because he was the first person I’d attempted to contact in a month of searching who was actually responsive. Already, we can see a pattern emerging here.)

Then in October I submitted Strain. Strain was for an open call, the deadline for which was November 1. Acceptances on novels were supposed to be received by the beginning of February, and the open call had stated that the submissions would be published around July of this year. So I submitted Strain, and nine weeks later, discovered that the necessary editor for the press had never seen or heard of it. I sent it again to the person who was supposed to have received it, and that person was nicely responsive and got a Revise and Resubmit letter to me in short order. While I was doing the revisions, I was told we were looking at August or September for publication now if I got it submitted ASAP. This was pretty important because my goal for the year had been to release a title every ~3 months to keep my name fresh in people’s minds while I was trying to build up my audience and brand, and Strain was meant to be my summer release.

I did the revisions, resubmitted in January, and I was informed that I would have an answer the first week in March. My trust was a little shaken already because of the bobble with my submission not reaching the correct person as it was supposed to, but I knew there were circumstances and, having an approximate deadline on when I could expect a response, I settled in to wait.

In the meantime, I began doing research for Risk Aware, my second Saugatuck story. I contacted one research source, who said he would be happy to respond to my questions, so I sent him the questions…and never heard back. Then it happened again with another research source, then another, then another. Out of about seven different people who offered to answer questions for me relating to my research, only one ended up actually coming through, and it took about three months to find that person. When I had completed the first 20K on Risk Aware, I sent it to that research source, and to others who had volunteered to beta read, to find out if I was getting things right. Only one of those three responded, and then that one person never answered when I attempted to get some clarifying information, which rather threw my confidence for a loop because I was paranoid that the reason they didn’t answer was because I had gotten things SO VERY WRONG they didn’t even feel it was worth their time.

In March, I was told I would need to turn around edits on The Laird’s Forbidden Lover quickly because we were under a tight deadline for it. So I cleared my schedule for the week that was due to happen, arranged for my husband and MIL to do a lot of the care for my son, and then waited. And waited.

Finally at the end of March, I ended up composing a “come to Jesus” letter about the situation, not only about the fact that I had cleared my schedule and inconvenienced my family to make sure I was available for Laird edits when I was told I’d be receiving them, but also about the fact that I still hadn’t received an answer on Strain (which I was told I would have the first week of March.) Finally in mid-April I received my contract and developmental edits on Strain, and what I thought was an iron-clad promise that we would begin line edits by August 1. I was also given a January release date for Strain, which I had submitted with the understanding that it would be published around July, and then resubmitted when I was told it would be around September for publication.

In mid-to-late March, Heidi Belleau and I submitted TPR#2, which was only 14K. We were originally told that we would be publishing a TPR story every 2-3 months, which would have had it published in June or July. By the end of July, we still hadn’t received an acceptance, contract, or begun edits, and publication was pushed back until September.

In late May, I finally got my acceptance for Saugatuck Summer, which I had submitted in early February, but because Risk Aware could kinda-sorta be interpreted as a prequel (in that it tells the story of a pair of side characters whose relationship is already established in Saugatuck Summer, and the love interest from Saugatuck Summer is a side character in Risk Aware) I needed to get Risk Aware completed so that it could be published first. But then I ended up getting a R&R on Risk Aware, and because I really didn’t feel capable of carrying the story to completion by myself at that point (because my depression was really starting to escalate by then, and because I was looking at the proposed changes and drawing a complete blank; they weren’t triggering even the tiniest bit of interest or inspiration for me, which was entirely unlike what had happened when I got my R&R for Strain) I asked someone else for either a beta read or possibly some co-authoring help with the story. I was originally told I could expect some feedback and response on that the following month. Now it looks like it might not happen until September or October.

In May I started writing Third Wave, a sort of whodunnit mystery, but because I’ve never written a mystery before, I needed some help with plotting and brainstorming. One friend has been responsive on that end, but I needed some other opinions from writers or editors. The first person who offered to help me brainstorm? Never responded. Second person? Ditto. Third person? Again, nothing. Finally the lovely Pam Singer did a beta read of what I had until that point and she did give me some good pointers, but I’m still stuck on the plotting and with the feeling like the characters don’t resonate at all and can’t seem to get past that, and no one I had asked for feedback or brainstorming on those specific issues has responded.

Now the edits on Strain that I was promised by August 1 have been pushed back to September, and the publication pushed back to February.

Again, I’m not calling anyone out here, just trying to reveal the pattern of broken promises and deadlines that have led to me being where I am today, which is depressed, stuck in everything I try to write, convinced that no one can be trusted, and that no one gives a fuck about anything I’m doing, even the people who are supposed to be supporting me.

So I can’t seem to bring myself to get motivated, and I think a significant portion of that is the notion that if no one else cares, why should I bother? I swear, I think if tomorrow everyone who has been making me promises and breaking them suddenly showed up with the help they offered or even just the tiniest indication that they gave a damn and were willing to work with me, I could start writing again, I would feel inspired and motivated again. But maybe I’m kidding myself.

One person this entire last year has kept their word to me and been responsive every time whenever they offer to help, and I love that person dearly, absolutely adore her, but she’s not a writer or editor and sometimes she can’t give me the help I need however hard she tries.

I know, I know, this is all a bunch of whining and I should just get over myself and realize that it’s no one’s job to support me. Except in some cases, it actually is, and in others even if there isn’t an obligation, they made an offer of their own free will and then didn’t carry through. And I’m not unreasonable. I know people have lives and other obligations and things get in the way and I’m not the center of the universe, and I’m honestly okay with that, I go above and beyond with the understanding. Except when I get to this point where I’m looking at an entire fucking year of repeated incidences of dozens of people being unresponsive, not keeping their commitments, not responding when they said they would respond, not answering direct questions, dropping off the face of the earth in the middle of a dialogue, and so forth.

I don’t know? Am I being unreasonable? Too selfish and demanding? Expecting too much? Because I never do this to people. I never promise people something and then fail to see it through in a timely manner with either no excuse, or a belated excuse.

Maybe the broken promises and missed deadlines and unfulfilled commitments are just an easy thing to focus on when I’m feeling depressed and everything seems grim. Or maybe they’re the reason for the depression. I just don’t know.

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14 Comments

Filed under Musings

14 responses to “The futility and frustration of waiting

  1. I’d had a couple people bail on me at crucial moments, but nothing like this. I’d say you’ve gone through an extraordinary string of bad luck and you’re due for a complete turnaround.

    Any time you deal with people, you must expect to be let down, put off, ignored, and even mistreated. If it doesn’t happen, figure you escaped a bullet.

    I’ve very sorry to hear this last year has been so terrible for you. You have every reason to be depressed. You began by self-publishing; what made you quit? If you self-pub, you have pretty much total control over your creative work, one way or another, and that appears to be something you need: control.

    • I definitely still intend to self-publish. My goal has been a mix of the two, because I needed access to the established audience the presses have to spread my name more effectively, the ability to submit books to the major long-lead reviewers, the marketing support, and also the occasional break in funding everything myself. Because of the expense of editing, particularly, I’ve only been able to do one round of edits on each self-pubbed book, rather than separate developmental and line edits, and for the books coming up in particular, I wanted more than that.

      Strain and Saugatuck Summer are both major titles, they really need more exposure than I could give them as a self-published author, particularly Saugatuck Summer, which my beta told me could really be the book that “makes” me. So going through a press was a strategic decision, and I intend to continue doing both. If I could finish another friggin’ manuscript (one that isn’t required by contract to be offered to the press first because it’s part of the same series/universe) I would definitely put it into the self-pub pipeline. But right now I’m stuck anywhere between 15K and 40K on four different novel manuscripts.

  2. I read your post and wanted to comment, then I stopped myself. I thought: I am nobody, why would she care what I have to say? Why would my sympathy or support have any value to someone like her? But then I realized, that is kind of the point, isn’t it? When you are feeling alone, and let down, and wondering why you should continue, that’s when you need to hear from people. Maybe even from nobodies. So I’m back with a comment.

    I have so little experience in this field, and zero friends. But I have learned a few things. One is that the only person who really cares about your projects, the only person invested in your success, is you. No one else cares. Even if it is their job to help you, even if they promised. When push comes to shove, there’s always the possibility they’ll bail. As someone with very little self-confidence, I find this truth particularly difficult to accept. It’s not in my nature to be my own cheerleader, and I constantly doubt myself.

    Reading about your year, I feel like you are dealing with a higher than average number of assholes. You need to get out, asap. Protect yourself with some distance. Don’t slip into a full depression. (I know how that feels, and how difficult it can be to climb out of that hole once you’re in it.) Write something totally different, and self publish it. Or submit the non-contracted things you have to a different publisher. Or focus on writing your blog for a while, I don’t know. But don’t give up. You have come this far because you are a professional. Don’t let anyone take that away from you.

    Most of all, don’t forget how lucky you are. You have a lot of people letting you down, and that sucks. But the first part of that is “you have a lot of people”. People who love your writing, people who agreed (even if they backed out or failed you) to work with you, people who bought your books, people who heard your name and said “yes”.

    I hope you get the support you need, and I hope you have better luck with people soon 🙂

    • Thank you.

      First of all, nobody is a “nobody” and please don’t ever think you wouldn’t be welcome to comment or converse. We might not know each other very well, true, but you are more than welcome and your comments are appreciated.

      I know it’s ridiculous to be so affected by other people letting me down, but I’ve always been one of those “if three people tell you you’re dead, lie down” folks, who believe that if you’re getting the same message over and over again in your life, obviously there’s a lesson you’re meant to be learning from it. But what I’m trying to figure out (this post wasn’t just to whine, but to examine the pattern of events) is whether the lesson I’m meant to learn here is that my expectations of others are too high, or that others simply don’t give a rat’s ass and I need to stop counting on them.

  3. ((hugs)) you really have had bad luck this year. Believe me, you’re not alone on the bandwagon of authors who’ve been let down by betas / editors / research assistants / designers / formatters / helpers of all shapes and sizes. Everyone says they’ll play a part until it comes to actually, uh, playing their part.

    I also get the imperative to keep putting books out on a regular basis to keep your name current, but you’re an incredibly talented writer and believe me, once people have read one of your books, they won’t forget you in a hurry.

    I hope you get the support you need, and I agree with Fen that returning to self-pubbing, if not for all your work then some, in order to maintain your sense of control might be the best way forward.

    • Yeah, I will almost definitely be self-publishing my next stand-alone book, assuming I can ever finish another manuscript. I just… ugh. I need to brainstorm until something shakes loose, but no one has time to do that with me, or they offer to do that and then disappear, so the one thing I think would help get me moving again is also part of the problem.

      But thank you. I appreciate you putting up with my whining here.

  4. Aw man, what a crummy year. I am now terrified that I promised to do something for you and between migraines and mommyhood and writing and full-time work and being a space cadet in general I let you down. I honestly have no recollection of anything (other than the blog post you so kindly offered to host) that I owe you, but if I do owe you something, please let me know. I will make it a priority. You deserve so much better.

    As for the rest of it, I think Amelia above is on to something when she says, “But I have learned a few things. One is that the only person who really cares about your projects, the only person invested in your success, is you. No one else cares. Even if it is their job to help you, even if they promised.”

    I can offer no solutions for you, but I can tell you that I’m sorry you’re in such a dark place. I believe you will come out on top.

    • *hugs* No, you’re fine. You beta-read the manuscript that became The Laird’s Forbidden Lover for me, which was wonderful and it definitely helped.

      I know with your migraines and parenting and day job and family stuff, you’ve got a full plate. If there’s anything else I can offer to help, let me know.

  5. I’ve been fighting off depression off and on for the better part of a year. Hang in there! It may not seem like it now, but the gloom will eventually pass. *hugs*

  6. I’m so sorry you are going through this. I haven’t had the personal let-downs you have, but I’ve certainly had the publisher ones. I can only offer commiseration. I, too, will begin self-publishing shortly… just as soon as I can get out of the contract I signed. The good news is that they’ll be glad to be rid of me. Good luck and feel better.
    ~ Gina / Storm Grant

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