I would be lying if I said I were in a happy mental place at the moment. But I think that has less to do with the world of publishing than the fear of losing control. After years of working on this thing, the window of opportunity for changes and improvements is finally closing. Soon it'll be fixed, unchangeable, all its flaws immortalized in amber, and my role will move from all-powerful author to diligent cheerleader. The baby is going off to college, and who knows what'll happen when it gets there?
Anyway, I wrote an article a couple months back called Five Secret Advantages of the Unpublished Author. I wanted to do something similar here. Are you ready?
The Joys of Being a Pre-Published Author
That's it. To be clear, there's a million and one happinesses I could rattle off: receiving the ecstatic "we got one!!!" email; going out to dinner with agent and editor; dropping The Big News to friends and family one at a delicious, savory time; getting awesomesweet cover art; that first check in the mail. But those are all fruits falling from one singular tree, called External Validation, otherwise known as My Writing is Officially Worth Something Now.
That's the gold nugget I keep in my pocket, the solid reliable center of this whole huge hurricane of insecurities and what-ifs and things completely outside my control. Even if God visits Job-like misery upon me - even if my publisher goes broke, my agent drops me, my reviews suck, my book tanks, and my name becomes so toxic that I have to spend the rest of my life writing under a pseudonym - the fact remains that something I wrote was good enough that somebody wanted to represent it, and somebody else wanted to pay me money for it. That is the one beautiful, permanent, no-takebacks talisman that will forever shield me from the insidious brain-spiders of doubt.
(And for the record, this is why you will never, ever hear me slag off self-published writers. To put yourself straight out into the world without needing someone else's prior approval, to sustain yourself on faith in your own ability - on the self-esteem equivalent of photosynthesis! - is a feat more amazing than I ever had the guts to attempt.)
Anyway - keep at it, fictioneers, regardless of your chosen form or flavor. It's a hell of a quest, no matter where your road takes you.
Gilthoniel, A Elbereth!