Maybe I'm the only one that's ever felt like they've been left behind in this publishing journey. It's hard to start this writing journey with friends and see them catch the next bus on their publishing route while they leave you stranded at the bus stop.
I think it's hard to be left behind for a number of reasons:
Flow with Changing Relationships
You've built these relationships with your writing friends founded on mutual goals and status in life. You were all newbies, just starting out, sharing your rejections and encouraging each other to press on, but somehow they've start to move forward...faster. Now they're talking book contracts and editors, hobnobbing with big author friends, and well, sometimes you just feel a bit left out.
Sure, you're still pals, but not in the same way. Something has changed. They've moved on in their publishing journey, and you're still crawling behind the bus choking on fumes.
I remember having dinner with an old critique partner who started writing after me, but had since multi-published and was now a seasoned author and speaker. There were several of us, and I was the only unpublished author at the table. Everyone was friendly and wonderful, but the conversation moved to their next published book and future speaking engagements. That's when I faded into the distance. It wasn't intentional, it just happened. I had nothing to contribute to the conversation, and though I wasn't purposely left out, I felt out of place.
This feeling had nothing to do with how these authors treated me, it's just they were at a different place than I was and it was hard not being where they were. Later that night I went back to my hotel room and talked with God about how insignificant I felt and asked for a "sign" to know He still cared about me and that I was still on the right track. The next morning He gave it to me a fun, profound, and personal way.
Though you may feel like you're left behind and have nothing to contribute... take a closer look and see things from a different perspective. Then get over your "insignificant" self and keep working towards your publishing goals.
Celebrate Others Successes
I'm reminded of that song, "Smile Though Your Heart is Breaking." Yes, I've matured since the "Why not me, whining days." I'm happy to see my writing friends move on with their careers, sign book contracts, win Christy and Carol awards, but it's still hard! I can't help but be sad that I'm still stuck in this place even though I've been told over and over again by my agent that I'm a good writer and editors like my writing, I'm still not where I want to be in my career. Even though I have a novella and full length mystery with an epublisher, I'm still straining my neck waiting for the next publishing bus to come by (and offer me a 3 book contract) and wondering if they'll have room for me.
It's hard especially when others seem to pass you by with their successes, yet what else can you do but smile and celebrate with your friends... though your heart might be breaking.
Encourage Others While Waiting For Your Turn
Waiting your turn is hard, especially when you don't know when you'll get a turn and the rules keep changing, but what else can you do besides quit? Instead of focusing on what you don't have or unmet goals, look around and see who else is sitting at the publishing bus stop waiting, then be an encouragement to them. It's amazing how writer friends and I always seem to be in the exact opposite place emotionally and career wise. When I get a rejection, she's encouraging me and when she's ready to quit, I'm there lifting her up. Coincidence? I don't think so.
Keep Busy and Don't Be Idle
There are many other things you can do while waiting for the publishing bus to arrive. Learn the craft, build your writing resume, teach writing, and connect with others on social media and at writing conferences. Waiting is hard, but you don't have to be idle while waiting. Do something, anything to help get you closer to your publishing destination and then the time you've spent waiting, might not seem as long.
Feeling like you're left behind in this publishing journey stinks! Trust me, I know, and it's okay to feel those feeling every once and a while. But wallowing in self pity won't move you closer to where you want to be.
No one ever promised publishing would be easy! If you feel like you've been left behind in this publishing journey, you're not alone. Just look around. At one time or another, someone else has been waiting
Gina Conroy is founder of Writer...Interrupted and is still learning how to balance a career with raising a family. Represented by Chip MacGregor, she finds time to write fun, quirky mysteries in between carpooling and ballroom dancing . Her first mystery Cherry Blossom Capers, released from Barbour Publishing in January 2012, and Digging Up Death is available now.