Lake Atitlan, Panajachel, Guatemala

“Reading and writing are acts of empathy and faith. Guard that trust carefully — in this rapidly changing business, it’s the only sure thing.” ~Erin Keane
"Never give up. And most importantly, be true to yourself. Write from your heart, in your own voice, and about what you believe in." ~ Louise Brown

"Write something to suit yourself and many people will like it; write something to suit everybody and scarcely anyone will care for it."
~Jesse Stuart

"A writer's job is to take one thing and make it stand for twenty." ~ Virginia Woolf

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Prayers of the Psychotic Writer (which would be all of us)

Regardless of where you are in your writerly journey, I bet you have offered up, or shouted out, one of these prayers.

Prayers to begin your journey:

How do I know if I have talent? Stephen King says #1 requirement for a writer is talent. Am I deluding myself? DO I HAVE ANY TALENT?

A novel is 50,000 words? Where will I ever find the time to write 50,000 words? Do publishers accept flash fiction?

What should I write anyway? What's selling these days? I'm not interested in reading YA paranormal romance, how am I supposed to write it?

Prayers to accompany you along the way:

With so many writers out there, how will I ever stand a chance of getting published? Never mind-- I'll write a book and worry about that part later.

I finished my first draft! 57,000 words, typewritten, double-spaced, 305 pages. Now who can I bribe to read it and tell me if it's any good?

How do I find an agent?

Maybe I need a writing class. Should I be taking a writing class?

Are you even listening here? Or are you too busy answering all of Stephanie Meyers' prayers?

Next step:

Holy Crap! How do you write a query letter?

I've been rejected by 95 agents. What now? What now? What now?

Is it my query? Is it my manuscript? Is it my personality or lack thereof?

How does anyone get published? This is too hard! What next? Do I have any talent or am I just kidding myself?

(Don't go back to Step One Prayers! Must not slide backwards, must move forward!)

Finally getting an agent prayer:

Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

After two years with said agent and still no publisher:

Did I pick the wrong agent? Was I too eager? Should I have queried for another 6 months and gotten more offers?

Does my agent know what he's doing? Does he have my best interests at heart?

How long can I ride this "I've got an agent" train? I better get a publisher pretty soon or I'll lose all my street cred. Why doesn't anyone want me?

Do I have any talent?

After getting a publishing contract:


While in editing:

Omigosh this is hard! Will this never end? It's been a year and my editor is still sending me back revisions! Does she even know what she's doing?

Is she trying to change my entire story? Is this the right publisher for me? Does my agent have my best interests at heart?

Will my book EVER see the light of day????

Do I have any talent?

Once the book is published and in author's hands:


After book has been out a few months:

Will it sell? Will anyone like it? Is this the right font? The cover looks funny. Does the publisher know what they're doing?

Aaargh, did you see that review? I want to kill myself!! How could anyone write that? Don't they even GET IT??? What if everyone hates my book? What if it doesn't sell? Will any publisher ever want to work with me again?


Best-selling author, on New York Times Besteller List, super-star celebrity:

How will I ever top this one? What should I write next? What if it's not as good? How will I hold my head up if it's a flop?

Will my readers still love me if I try out a different genre? There's so much pressure now, aargh I can't stand it!!

Who will they get to write the film script? What if I don't like it? What if the film flops? And why hasn't Oprah called?

Now, dear readers, where do you find yourself along this journey of anguished prayers? (It's just a thought question: no need to answer if it's too personal!!)


  1. hahaha. It's funny, but it's true. I love the thankyouthankyouthankyou

  2. Writing is one of the hardest "professions"!! I recall Orson Scott Card saying that there are easier ways to make money.

    You have seriously (lol) captured what every serious writer experiences if he/she keeps pursuing eventual publication. Writers have to be some of the most optimistic people on the planet.

    I guess talent is significant, whatever talent means. For one who wants to write, I think the main ingredients are having something to write about, and then learning how to write well. And reading - a lot. And passion.

  3. haha, rinse and repeat!

    i believe if you're going to be a published author, you need to do whatever it is in your power to get there.
    just like you illustrated in your prayers: you need to believe and persevere.

  4. Love it!

    And yes, you are definitely talented!

    This post is worthy of a gold star in Google Reader :)

  5. Yay, I get a gold star!! I added a bit of color to brighten it up, it seemed so serious with all that praying going on.

  6. It's a vicious circle for sure. I try really hard not to look farther ahead than the next tiny step :)

  7. I love this. Thankyouthankyouthankyou!!!

  8. It's good to know I'm not the only one on the end of a yo-yo string. :) Fun, but true post, Karen.

  9. FANTASTIC POST!!! Definately gold star worthy!

    And yes, you do have talent. You're published after all.

  10. thankyouthankyouthankyou!!!! And I just went in to add the last bit. Can't believe I forgot about the prayers of the best-selling author!!!! Maybe because I'm not as close to that one lol!!!

  11. Congrats! on the milestone. Its a great feeling. Do something crazy. Just don't get caught.

    Stephen Tremp

  12. That is such a great title, Karen! I thoroughly enjoyed this post.

    I'm at the "Would someone who understands computers please call me back?" phase. Have you ever been there?

  13. Great post Karen:)
    ...stresses me out, then cheers me up, then stresses me out, then...

  14. I ricochet between the first three sections. Someday I hope to make it to the last one :)

    You're so right, though, no matter how good things are, we'll find something to stress about!

  15. Melinda GardinerMay 21, 2010 at 1:33 AM did you know? Are you psychic? You read all the questions I have on my mind. Now, would you kindly read the mind of the person with my answers? That would be so helpful. Thanks. ;)

  16. Thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you! Thank you!

    I'm still in the prayer bit at the beginning!


    Take care

  17. yep. It's one big viscious circle. :( Damn it!

  18. Karen, this is hysterical, and sad, because it's so true. I relate to almost all of them (except the bestseller one, of course, because that hasn't happened and probably won't, in this lifetime anyway).

  19. I'm still on the first step. It is very good to see what the rest of the journey will look like.

    I love your line about Stephenie Meyer (LOL)!

  20. Oh boy, yup, been along this road before. Talent? More like luck. The question is, with all this to look forward to on a repeating cycle, why does anyone write? Don't answer that.


  21. I'm in the middle ... and still writing. Maybe I need help.

  22. Isn't it funny how there's always something to be thankful for, and at the same time, something to keep you from being totally happy? c'est la vie.

  23. Perfect illustration of the roller coaster ride we call "getting published." (Funny, I always feel like praying when I'm on a real roller coaster, too.)

  24. What an awesome post! I especially love the line, "Are you even listening here? Or are you too busy answering all of Stephanie Meyers' prayers?" Hahaha!

    Thanks for sharing! Hope you have a terrific weekend!

  25. I'm with Shelley Sly on those lines. Too funny!

    Basically what you're saying is we're a needy bunch. It doesn't matter where we are in the writing process, 'cause it's never enough. Yikes!

  26. Theresa, Let's just call it sensitivity instead of needy-- it sounds better :) Or as they say in the times of Jane Austen, "of fine sensibilities."

  27. When I read the first heading I thought, Oh, is KarenG saying prayers for my safe journey....Then I got over myself! LOL Will be more present when I get my computer up and running at home! At the moment I am saying prayers the volcanic ash does not blow in my path. Slán go fóill (Irish for bye for now)

  28. That made me smile. The self doubt has nibbled at my heels again today. I kicked out, but am sure it has not disappeared.

  29. This is SO true, Karen! And hilarious! At every stage there's always a little voice niggling away, isn't there? Thanks so much for reminding me I'm not alone!

  30. So funny and so true! Will we ever be satisfied?

  31. Will the film flop and Why hasn't Oprah called? I wish!!!!!

  32. This would be hilarious if it wasn't so true!

    Happy weekend, Karen!

  33. Came over from Alex Cavanaugh (Is that how you spell his name?) This is great stuff, but do you really want Oprah to call you? She is soooo 1995.

  34. Cheeseboy, Welcome and thanks for visiting and commenting! Oprah may be so 1995 but she can still turn a book nobody's heard of into a bestseller everybody's reading. So for authors, she's the ONE. The be-all and end-all.

  35. I couldn't read all the way through this...I started to hyperventilate :) I write daily but haven't focused on the book YET...well, I try but I'm scared. I do not know if I'm good enough/talented enough and I'm afraid of rejection. I need to build up my shell!

    so..what site do I like better???? too early to tell but I know I like them both!

  36. I'm a little bit of a late commentor, but this post rocks! I think you are perfectly right. And the moral I'm taking from it is: if those of us who are unpublished can find contentment now, we'll be doing ourselves a big favor.

    Thanks for the dose of reality, Karen!