I was surprised today, while going through Jeff Herman’s Guide to Publishers and Agents, to find an essay that articulates something I found hard to express in the wake of the publication of Angel last September. It was (and is) my first novel, and I was pleased with my work on it. It was even getting overall highly positive reviews although it wasn’t (and isn’t) selling well. As people smiled and expressed excitement about my achievement I felt– for most of last year– a deep existential sense of sadness, loneliness and futility.
I knew that I could not be alone in this, but it seemed ungracious, not to mention poor marketing strategy in a culture that prizes cheerfulness, to bring it up in my blog. I just couldn’t find quite the right words.
Jeff Herman wrote: “No one directly discusses or recognizes this genuine condition because newly published authors are expected to be overjoyed and grateful… After all, each published author is amongst the fortunate ‘one-out-of-a-thousand’ struggling writers who make it to the Big Show. In reality, people who reach the pinnacle of success in any filed of endeavor will often feel an emotional letdown in the wake of their accomplishment. The feelings can be comparable to a state of mourning, as the thrill of chasing the goal instantly evaporates and is replaced by nothing. Writers are especially prone to wallowing alone, as theirs is a solitary process by design… Seeking or initiating communities of ‘published writers in pain’ should be what the doctor ordered… Pain isn’t punishment but a consequence that expands the writer’s integrity, authenticity and relevance.”
Any other writers out there who felt isolated in their post publication mourning period? Would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.