Uncomfortable Epiphanies

I had a rather uncomfortable realization last week. One of those epiphanies when you realize that you just wasted (well, not wasted, exactly, but only if you tilt your head a bit and squint) a huge chunk of time working toward something you really don’t want, and never did, if you’re completely honest with yourself (and everyone else, which is another kind of discomfort altogether).

A few years back, I’m sure I mentioned that a friend asked if I’d be interested in writing a children’s series for his new small press. I really thought long and hard about it, and in the end I said yes, because while I really had no interest in writing a children’s book, I thought it would be a new challenge, a way to grow as a writer, and to be perfectly honest, I thought it might be a way to finally make money writing without having to do all the publishing and advertising work myself.

I wrote the book, and it was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done in my life, for many reasons. I went through and edited it a little, and sent it off to the publisher, and since I’d planned a series for my young characters, I tried to start the next book. And it was still so very hard…often I couldn’t force myself to write at all. I worked on other things, but only half-heartedly, and then a whole bunch of stuff went wrong in my personal life and I stopped writing altogether.

Finally, a year after I sent the book off, I pulled it from the publisher (it still wasn’t published). I told myself it was because the process was taking too long, and because not having control was driving me nuts, but I think the truth is I was relieved it wasn’t published yet, and wanted to take back control, though I wasn’t sure exactly why at that point.

I told myself I’d polish it up, expand it a bit, and release it for Christmas, meanwhile getting that second book done. But the second book still isn’t done, and last week when I thought about going back and writing the expansions the first book needs and getting it ready to publish….that’s when it hit me.

I don’t want to publish a children’s book. I don’t want it to bomb, I don’t want it to do well, I just…don’t want to be a children’s author.

I know someone out there is probably thinking, “Hey – what’s wrong with writing children’s books?!” And there’s nothing wrong with that, of course. Nothing at all, and I think good children’s writers are vitally important and needed in society. It’s just not what I, personally, want to do or be.

And I knew that deep down when my friend asked the first time, and I should have just said, “Thanks for the opportunity, but not my thing.” I’d just turned down several other offers for different writing projects with the same basic phrase, and I think that’s part of why I said “yes” this time…I was just tired of saying no. And I was chasing money/fame too, which is never a good reason to write anything, in my opinion/experience.

So. Here I am a few years later with one finished draft I have no intention of publishing, another draft started in that series that will also go nowhere, and nothing new published under any of my various pen names in all that time. Not a great spot to be in for a writer. Kind of depressing, honestly, especially when I think of what I could have been working on, and could have had done and published by now. C’est la vie, I suppose. Thank goodness I don’t actually rely on writing for living income, or I’d have been screwed a long time ago.

In any case, now that I’ve finally admitted this to myself (and all of you), I’m taking a little break from writing (or trying to write) and working on proofreading/publishing a couple of books that I didn’t write (which is always more fun). Once I have those all set, I’ll get back to work writing what I love – romantic suspense and horror, with the occasional erotic short tossed in for variety. I still like the series concept I had for the kid’s books, so I’d like to revisit/rewrite that with a more adult cast and romantic suspense theme…a project I’m actually pretty excited about. Who knows? Maybe I’ll start working on that after I’ve finished the suspense/horror (not sure what it will end up as, honestly – I’m not far enough into it just yet) draft I’m working on now.

No where to go from here except up…or forward, at least. But I know what I want, and I’m back on the right track. That’s what matters.

2 comments on “Uncomfortable Epiphanies

  1. Minnie Lahongrais

    Your experience mirrored mine. I cringed at the idea of writing a children’s book. Instead i decided I would write a story my teenage grandson would read. So, even though life was kicking my butt, I convinced myself writing in this genre was a good way to cope.

    Not! It took me almost a year to get the first 10K words down and though I still struggle with that very same manuscript, I plan to finish it, self-pub it and promote it — for him partly because I said I would, partly because he knows I’m writing it for him and definitely because I don’t give up.

    I too will never agree to write something that makes me cringe.

    You will be back … in your time.

    Minnie

    1. Jamie DeBree

      I’m sorry your experience was so similar…I had no idea. Alas, I suppose we both learned something from the experience, eh? And I’m quite sure all that work wasn’t for naught, though the writing advancement was hard won.

      Best of luck to you with finishing your grandson’s book! I’m sure he’ll treasure it forever. 🙂