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Thursday, June 27, 2013

When You Feel Like You've Been Left Behind in the Writing Journey

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 There were several of us, and I was the only unpublished author at the table.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.


  1. Gina, I agree with your perspective as I have several friends/acquaintances that have published. But it threw me when at the end you refer to your book. I'd be thrilled to be published in a novella. You are way ahead of most. I'm thrilled that my friends are published. It gives me hope. It may take me longer but I don't want to be published for the sake of it but because what I've written is worthy. There is so much to learn about the craft and I'm thankful for those published authors who freely share their skills through writing conferences. Thanks for the article!

    1. Thanks for your comment, Daphne. In my case, I guess when you have big dreams and aspirations that have not yet been met and see others where you want to be, you still feel left behind. I am soooo thankful for my novella and my mystery published by a small epublisher, but there's always the next book to write and no guarantee of publication. No matter where I am in my writing journey, I still need to take my own advice! :)

  2. Hi Gina, yes I agree it is hard. I've just signed a contract with a small publisher after ten years of writing. The world's a funny place though. You mentioned a lot of your writer friends are doing speaking engagements. I don't even want any. You mentioned you have a career. I haven't worked in thirteen years through illness. So there is hard, and there is HARD. We're all at a different place. To me the main thing God has taught me is to continue to grow in Christ. All the rest is secondary, even when it hurts. God's peace. Geoff Wright. Australia.

  3. Gina,
    I have felt this way on many occasions and it is hard. In fact, I've felt this way recently, but you are right, you must push through and keep going and one day you will get there.

    1. Yes, Christine, because the alternative is quitting and never getting there!

  4. And we still have those "old" friends, who can be quite helpful. Even better, we find new ones. I had a couple of "dark years" when I'd given up on writing. I blamed business, my sore back, the end times, anything I could come up with. I admit I felt pangs of jealousy during those days. I find, though, it's much easier to to rejoice with my friends if I'm writing alongside them. And once I jumped back into the game, all my old friends were there to encourage me. And my new writing partner rocks! Though she wastes too much time dancing. There's best-sellers to be written!

    1. Your new writing partner sounds awesome! And dancing is never wasted! Though messing around on Facebook is! Still, I can't help wonder if you returned her chapters to her if she might be more focused! :)

  5. I'm sitting there with you, Gina, and know exactly how you feel. But I also believe God has a time and place for us. As long as we do our part and make our manuscripts publishing-ready, then we leave the rest to him and our agents. ;o)

  6. Perfect advice, Gina, advice I'm usually pretty good at following, but not always. It's comforting to know I'm not waiting at that bus stop all by myself. Thank you for this reassuring post!

    1. Absolutely, Brenda! I tend to think the bus stop is more crowded than not!

  7. A very good post, Gina. I've been there, and even sometimes in the place where I am, I feel passed over. And I shouldn't. God is so good and active in my life, writing and other things. And I am happy where I am. But even though I've won a couple of major awards, there's one award where I can't even final. And so life goes.

    1. Lena, you have the right perspective. I think if we focus on what we are doing and where God has us (and are thankful for them,) then it's hard to see all the things we don't have.

  8. What a comfort to find that someone else has experienced the same thing. One of those, "I thought I was the only one" kind of things. Like you mentioned, I quickly found numerous writer friends on Facebook who also used the same publisher I had and had published their first book the same year I had. So we all were in the same place at the same time. But then, by the end of the next year, two of them had a second book, and a few months later, one had a third. I felt "pressed" to get another written, as if people "expected" it of a published writer. Friends and family kept asking 'when the next book was coming out'. I began to cringe every time it was asked. I made excuse after excuse, but mostly, the "urge" just wasn't there like it was with the first one. I finally decided to just rest from my worries of cranking out another book just to "keep up" with the others, and go at my own pace. However, I continued to write and file it away in the computer, knowing the right time would come. Besides, I've grown so much spiritually in the past 4 years that now I want to go back and rewrite the first book. :) There is growth in waiting, unless you neglect to feed your spirit while you wait.


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