The Dog Days of Writing

Writing can be an exhilarating experience on some days, and a depressing malaise on others. I had one of those saddening moments the other day. I had to face the hard truth that about half of my meager sales could be attributed to either family or friends.

I appreciate their support, but when I realize that I’m not really reaching an audience, it’s time to stop writing, turn on the TV, and reach for the potato chips.  While I was noshing on the chips and channel surfing I remembered an important bit of wisdom that I received back in mid-December at a writer’s guild award dinner.

I had a pretty good night that evening. My short story “Stasis” had received an award, and I also got another award in the First Chapter category for my novel “The First Light”.

Everything is done in secret, the writers and the judges don’t know each other. One of the judges wrote a note to me in the margins of my draft. It’s the type of thing that a fledgling writer doesn’t hear from a complete stranger. Here’s the note.

“You are extremely talented and show a sophistication that I rarely see in contests of this nature. You must finish this work and get it sent to agents. I have a feeling you will do quite well as a published author.”

I later showed it to another member of the guild who spoke the aforementioned words of wisdom to me. She said, “Whenever you’re having a bad day, take that out and read it.” Her wisdom didn’t sink in at that moment; I was flying too high. I do not have a clue as to the identity of the judge, but I’ve decided to lean on him or her this day.

Who or what do you lean on when you’re having a “Dog Day”?

22 thoughts on “The Dog Days of Writing

  1. You know I can completely relate to your message. I feel it happened to me when I met Nonnie on twitter and joined Rave Reviews. No one has paid as much attention to my book as this great group of wonderful people or given it the kind of review I got this week. So I can relate to you. I’m glad I met you. Your blogs are so insightful and thoughtful.


  2. Typically I play games, watch a tv show or study a language during those times. So far most of the people who have read my short stories are friends and family. That doesn’t really bother me since I only have short stories. I would be a little worried if my novella/novels only drew attention from friends and family. I see short stories as practice. Although it would annoy me if they reviewed my book and said it was the best they ever read. Obviously then they haven’t read much.


  3. I think why I’d rather short stories read by friends and family is because I’ll have time to improve before releasing a novel. I’ve always felt it was best to hear from those close before others because people who don’t know you may not be so nice with their criticism. It’s just something I thought of after posting.


  4. I know people advise against family and friends but so far their critique has been about quality. I must not have the typical friends nor family because they don’t suger coat their critique of my book. It’s probably why my novel is taking so long to finish. There were so many problems especially with shallow over powered characters in one novel and no plot. I had to rewrite half of one of my short stories because it was boring. It was boring when I re-read it. My main character in that was a housewife. She shouldn’t be calm when her friend will die that day and she will die in twenty four hours. But even after friends and family critique I still get a professional editor. They are part of my target audience and one reviews books so I do value their input but not to the point of not having an editor look at it too.


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