I recently had the pleasure of writing a guest post for Robyn over at Project Nemesis, in which I detailed the long trek up to this release – the way time blurs from the moment you start riding the dizzying, sometimes surreal, high into the world of publishing – and offered advice to those attempting to juggle a day job with their publishing high or dreams of reaching one. Since I know at least one person reading this blog meets those requirements, I thought I'd extrapolate on that advice a bit more here.
- It’s Going to Be Stressful
This one should be obvious to even the finest of multitaskers. There are only so many hours in the day, and since we can’t all be Time Lords, things like sleep and yoga slip through the cracks. Often.
Breathe through it and practice moderation on all fronts, because you don’t want to burn out and end up hating either of your full-time gigs. If you already hate your day job, you've got an advantage over most, as that hate serves as an excellent motivator for writing a novel successful enough to get you out of there.
- Don’t Get Ahead of Yourself
Be smart. A manuscript, no matter how confident you are in it, likely won’t pay the bills all by itself. As lovely as it would be if our final word-counts matched our annual salaries, it doesn’t work that way. You can dream about quitting your day job, but make sure you get out of bed for it in the morning.
- You’re Going to Have to Make Difficult Choices
I’m not just talking about deciding whether or not you get a full 8 hours every night. I was lucky when I was writing the first draft of Zhukov’s Dogs because I didn’t have the day job going at the time, school was easy (yup, I was studying English), and my then-boyfriend/now-fiancé was incredibly supportive, both financially and emotionally.
I started juggling two professions after my agent sold the manuscript in early 2014, and I quickly realized neither was getting the attention it deserved. It’s a hard truth that still makes me sad when I think about it, and on more than one occasion I’ve had to ask myself which is more important. All I can say is it's a good thing my boss went through the publishing process himself not too long ago and is super understanding because of it.
- You’ll Be NAKED
Yup. Naked. I’m not sure how else to describe this sensation of knowing my friends, family, and coworkers will soon be reading my work. At least for me, feedback from strangers is perfectly fine, but what about all of these people I see on a daily basis? The next time I give a presentation or throw a party, it’s possible half the room will have glimpsed into the world I built, and I find that simultaneously terrifying and thrilling.
This unease is especially bothersome because I'm a confident, extroverted individual in the day-to-day world. I like to think it will go away as time goes on, but as of today, I don't think I could handle a face-to-face review of my work. Imagine we're sitting at coffee and you want to talk about Zhukov's Dogs. Give you a synopsis? Sure. Explain what went into the publishing process? Bring it on. A general "loved your book" doesn't even bother me, but you mention specifics like "that one scene in that one place between those two, I mean I just..." and suddenly there's a fascinating spot on the tiles beneath the table I MUST investigate up close.
Although I opted against it, I encourage everyone who’s ambling down the publishing path (with or without a 9 to 5) to seriously consider the levels of exposure that come with plastering your name on a book. There are benefits to pen names.
- It. Will. Be. Awesome.
If you press through to the high – through the drafts, revisions, queries and rejections – all the sacrifices and stress will suddenly make sense. Writing is a labor of love, and if it’s something you’re passionate about, regardless of where you are in your life, pursue it to its end. Sleep can wait when there’s a story to be told.