The struggle is real…

I know we’ve all heard that saying, and most have us have probably quoted it a time or three. But the underlying meaning is true: I’ve been really struggling for some time and am finally able to give voice to it.

It started last year when I had a bit of mini-breakdown. Several personal things were happening to me all at once and in the span of one week I was responsible for so many things that I simply couldn’t function, so I stopped; functioning. I didn’t talk, I didn’t sleep, I didn’t write. ( I did eat, tho, so once again losing weight wasn’t something I was struggling with – because I wasn’t!! Losing weight, I mean!)

Any hoo.

The situations, slowly, resolved, and I thought I was back on top of my game again.

Yeah, not so much as it turns out.

For the past two months I’ve been struggling with wanting to continue on my writing journey. Despite several efforts and the best intentions on my part, I still haven’t been able to find an agent who would want to take me on as a client. You’d think 15 books published traditionally would count for something. Apparently, not.

One of my publishers dropped me, and the editor I thought I had a really good relationship with won’t return my emails. Any of them. I even emailed her assistant who assured me she’d let the editor know I wanted to “speak” to her. Nothing.

I write in such a glutted market – contemporary romance – and trying to garner any kind of attention means I spend hours daily on social media, talking up my books and trying to make connections with readers. It’s exhausting – mentally, physically, spiritually. And let’s not forget financially. All my marketing, despite being traditionally published, is arranged for and paid by me. And as my mother used to tell me, money doesn’t grow on trees. I know that saying is true because I live in the woods and my diminishing funds aren’t being replaced by leaf currency.

The kicker came when the RITA finalists were announced last week. I submitted three books from last year that I wrote, one of which I really thought I had a shot at finaling with because it’s gotten nothing but 5 star reviews – most from people who don’t know me personally, either. Alas, March 21 came and went and I received no phone call.  Now I know what everyone says when you don’t get the call: it doesn’t mean you’re a bad writer or the book wasn’t good. It simply means 5 judges thought other books were better.

Yeah, you know what? That doesn’t make me feel any better.

At all.

I’ve always surmised the RITAS were a bit of a popularity contest, and this year I KNOW they are. Combined with the utter lack of diversity in the finalists – an egregious act – and I’m seriously considering whether the award really means anything at all anymore. I read two absolutely wonderful books that featured h/h as people of color (POC). I graded them sososososo high, too. Know what? Neither of them finaled. I rated one truly horrible book ( so many misplaced modifiers, spelling and tense mistakes) low and know what? It finaled. After finding out about how un-diverse the awards are, I stopped feeling sorry for myself about not finaling. Some amazeballs POC writers have never been given the honor of finaling or winner either, so who am I to have a pity party??!!

But as far as entering in the future, I give up. Truly.

I’m trying to chalk up this feeling of inadequacy and apathy to a passing funk, seasonal affect disorder, and not having a  vacation away in years. I’m trying really hard, as it happens.

Maybe I’ll come out of this stronger and more determined than ever.

That’s the hope anyway.

I didn’t write this as a subtle means of begging for positive reinforcement, or a way of garnering sympathy in the hopes people will buy my books. I may craft for a hobby, but believe me, I’m not crafty that way.

I simply wanted to put my thoughts and feelings down on paper and try and make some sense of why I’m feeling down in the dumps, writing-wise when so many other wonderful things ARE happening for me in my new career. I’ve finaled and even won other contests this year; I’m about to sign with a new publishing company ( more on that later!) and I recently was offered contracts for two books I’ve submitted to my first publisher.

So, life really is good, career-wise for me. I have to chalk this feeling of worthlessness and crabbiness up to winter.

I blame everything else that happens to me on the weather, so why not this, too? heehee

Any hoo…thanks for listening.

~ Peg

 

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11 Comments

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11 responses to “The struggle is real…

  1. You may have not been begging for “poor yous” but I’ll give you a whole bunch of genuine sympathy anyway, and a hug. This is a tough industry and it can be exhausting at times, not just physically but emotionally. Soul-destroying exhausting. We go from incredible highs of signed contracts and new releases and everything coming up roses, to lows so low they don’t even register and can’t be understood by civilians. We put months and years of hard work, sleepless nights, and actual tears into a book that we love, characters who are as real as family members (and sometimes more lovable), and it releases to crickets. At times like that I hear my dad’s voice in my head, “Keep the faith.” Not necessarily a particular deity, but faith in yourself, in your talent, and that this writing journey is the one you are meant to be on. And the rest of the f&$#ers can just go to H E double-hockey-sticks.
    P.S. If you’ve not been on the PAN loop, this year’s results has opened up a whole can of really nasty worms.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Peggy Jaeger

      Luanna – #Blessyou so much!!!! I know this industry can be soul sucking at times, and in the past I’ve been able to just “let it go.” For some reason right now I’m in a funk. This too, shall pass, as my grandmother used to say!
      And Yes, I read all the comments on the PAN forum this weekend and I have to tell you – it was disturbing for sure. And I think that’s all I’m gonna say about it!!!
      Thanks for being so supportive. I lovelovelove all y writing friends because you know just what I mean abt the business and everything writing related!

      Like

  2. lydiaschoch

    I’m rooting for you, Peggy. Writing is a tough business sometimes.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. mrsnnnlight

    Peggy, the struggle is very real. I, too, was very disappointed by the lack of POC stories nominated for RITAs this year. As I looked over the finaled books, over 50% I didn’t care for. I’m not sure what the judges are looking for but your books have everything a reader can want and more.

    As for the editor not returning your emails, I say it’s their loss. Move on and use what you’re feeling for future sub-plots.

    Remember my cookie debacle from last week? Well, my second time around, I made (according to hubby at least) the best cookies I’ve ever made. Failure is just a stepping stone to success.

    I’m excited to hear what’s in the works for you this year. Know that I’m cheering for you from the sidelines. *\o/*

    As for the soul-sucking adverse effects, maybe it’s time to get away for a few days or even a week. Take some time for yourself and do something that has nothing to do with your writing career.

    Sending hugs across the border. . . ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • Peggy Jaeger

      Darling Lady (MrsNN!) Your words have lifted me up considerably and I Consider myself well and duly hugged! heehee. YOur cookie story made me feel oodles better ( esp. since you hubby claimed they were so good!) Yes, failure is just a stepping stone to success! A thousand times YES! I am writing that out in long hand and putting it above my laptop so I can see it constantly thruout the day.
      #Blessyou kind and knowing lady.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I wasted a good 90 minutes today reading the PAN forum. Such passion over this year’s RITAs, and a fair bit of vitriol too. I’m weighing in with those who say the contest is broken and needs a hiatus until it can be repaired. And yeah, the contemporary romance field is crowded–but that’s because so many readers love it. I wish you a well-earned break to recharge your mental fountain pen.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Peg, I’ve had several people–from editors, authors, and readers ask me what I achieve by winning an award? Do I get more sales? Readers? Is it the satisfaction of achieving an accolade among my peers? Recognition? The answer: It’s a mix. For me personally, I don’t enter many contests anymore. It comes down to where I can put my money to good use for advertising (and yet another expense).

    Last year, I went through some soul-searching to find out why I’m in this business. Sure I’d like to make tons of money, garner that movie contract, win awards, but in the end I had to really ask the burning question: “Why do I remain in the business?” It’s vastly different than when I stepped into the arena five years ago as a published author. And I too, write in a saturated market.

    I’ve returned to the basics of writing for me and my loyal readers. I meet my loyal readers each year at book signings. One reader even flew across country to meet me at an event. When a reader writes, visit, or sends me a gift, those are my accolades.

    When my daughter was diagnosed with breast cancer over the holidays, my reality flipped over. I saw everything more clearly. Trust me, I still want more from this business, but I refuse to let it chip away at my soul.

    You’re an amazing author and woman, Peg. You’re out there every day, promoting, helping other authors, striving forward, etc. You’re successful in my book. 🙂

    Sorry, I didn’t mean to digress about myself. I just wanted to share my journey.

    Hugs!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Peggy Jaeger

      Mary – GOd Bless you and your daughter!!! You just made it all make sense to me – all the worry, all the stressing…it’s really nothing when you think about what truly matters in life. I wish I could give you a real hug as thanks. You are so right about returning to the basics. I started writing because I loved to write. I need to get that joy back – and now that I know that’s what’s been causing this funk o’mine, I will. Bless you for this. You have truly made a difference in my thinking. I’m saying prayers for you, your lovely daughter, and your family.

      Like

  6. Pingback: A new week, a new attitude, a new chapter in my life…. | Peggy Jaeger

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