So, I came across this piece in Buzzfeed about the dark side of being a debut author and, man, did it depress me. Not just me, either. Sharon tells me she found it to be a total downer, too. Courtney Maum’s message of isolation and despair is positively Hobbesian. It makes me feel guilty about all the debut authors I’ve had a hand in throwing into this bottomless pit of misery.
Which is not to say that Ms. Maum doesn’t make some valid points. The comedown after years of intense yearning for the pot of gold at the end of the publishing rainbow can be vertiginous. As with most of the things we covet, success, as represented by a first-time book deal, is not the cure-all for all our problems nor the magic carpet ride to a suddenly fabulous life.
And, yet, I think that celebrating the validation of oftentimes years of chipping away at one’s craft should be the greater impulse than bemoaning the problems that come with a new state of authorial life. No, having your novel published isn’t the ticket to nirvana you may have hoped and dreamed it would be as you sat in your roach infested apartment eating ramen noodles at every meal while your parents relentlessly hinted at you to get a real job…with insurance. But, it’s a pretty great accomplishment and, hopefully, the beginning of a long publishing career. And, even though (to quote the immortal lyrics of Taylor Swift) haters gonna hate, writers, both published and un- are a lovely community to be a part of.
What’s your take on being a debut author—both from the wishing-that-was-me to the been-there-done-that-and-survived perspective?