The Company of Writers

- by Elaine Isaak

The funny thing about being a multi-published author is that those who aspire to the title imagine that those of us already here have kind of got it all together.  We know how to write books, how to sell them, how to hire and fire agents, how to work with editors, how to promote our books, and talk to fans. . .all the ingredients that make up a successful career.  There is that old Tolstoy line about how happy families resemble one another, the idea being that you have to be getting everything right in order to have a happy family–or a writing career.

In fact, one of the great things about being a member of Novelists, Inc. is seeing that we are all still on the learning curve.  Some may be further ahead in one area or another.  Some are consistent bestsellers, some starting their careers over–often more than once.  Some have taken a break from writing for one reason or another, and are now getting back to the keyboard, trying to remember what once came so naturally–or, like those aspirants watching from a distance, do we only imagine that it came naturally?

We hope to enter into that lovely flow state where every word materializes just as needed, and sometimes that’s what happens.  Other times, it’s more like mining for gemstones.  You get all grubby and sweaty in the dark, working hard over a pile of stones, and even if you find a gem, it still needs polish!  Perhaps the business of writing is rather like childbirth. You’re so excited when the hard part is over that you tend to minimize what it was like, focusing on the wonderful result.  It’s only when it comes time to produce again that the details return, sometimes resulting in a depression that can blot out even the joy.

I wonder if other writers achieve a zen-like balance, an indifference to outcomes that allows them to simply generate the words, make the contacts, draft the press releases without stress or concern.  Then I wonder if they are wondering the same thing.  Thanks to this organization, I can see that we often share worries and flashpoints, and that realization can make the cycles of publishing seem more balance, even without the zen.  I can see that, while I am in the trough, others have been here, too, only to rise again upon a new wave.  It is a comfort to be afloat together.

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