October 31, 2023

Publishing Depression


For years I fought to get a single thing published. I sent out query letters and received only rejections. Nothing with any substance, either, to let me know what I did wrong. During that time, I kept on writing, though, and completed four books in a series. Still nothing. Not even a shred of hope.

I always read tips from agents telling unpublished writers to build their credentials, as if we aren’t trying to, and get stories published in magazines, as if it’s easy. To this day, I still haven’t had a story published in a print magazine. Although, I must admit I haven’t tried in a very long time, but when I did, nothing. However, there’s other markets out there, such as online magazines. So, I submitted flash fiction pieces to many of them, and still got rejections. Over time, though, I managed to publish a couple of poems and a few flash fiction pieces, one of which was published in a PDF anthology and is listed on Goodreads. Those accomplishments thrilled me and gave me something to put in my bio in query letters, but rejections continued to pour in.

Close to giving up, I had an epiphany. Perhaps I needed a different story to break into the publishing industry. That was when I thought of Hurricane Crimes, and I started to write it on Christmas Day 2012. That wasn’t the end to my struggles, though. Oh no. In many ways, it was just the beginning. The beginning of the road to a lot of good, and the beginning to some of my worst days.

Below is an entry from my journal, bad writing and all. Why am I sharing it with you? Because I hope it’ll demonstrate that you’re not alone, that some of the thoughts you may be having or troubles you may be experiencing, I had, too. Also, to show you that I got past them, and so can you.

August 8th 2013,

I have been feeling really depressed all during July.

This is from a message I sent my best friend:

“…but I’m not optimistic. Nothing ever works out for me. I know, I know, gotta be positive, but I got in a very depressed state today. I feel like a freaking thirteen-year-old! I’m just so aggravated. It’s been five years since I’ve moved to [city name] and nothing (and I mean nothing!) has changed for me. I’m tired of it! I don’t want to be in this situation much longer. So, God needs to hurry things along! [… ] I’m done with people thinking I’m a bump-on-the-log because I don’t have a job or go to school. I’m over my family not understanding my situation. I’m just over it! I don’t know how much more I can feel like a failure at this point and at this stage of my life.”

I’m cutting into my journal entry to say this: I bet you’re thinking I was being rather whiny, huh? Reading that back now, I’m definitely thinking it, but that time of my life had been tough. Every day my circumstances wore me down more and more—the fact that I couldn’t work due to a back disability but couldn’t actually get approved for disability, and how my loved ones treated me. My insecurities were at full swing then, too. Actually, that was the most insecure period of my life. Something my father said to me during his visit stuck with me, which was the same visit where I met my stepmother for the first time. During lunch, he asked me, “Are you still being a bump-on-the-log?” He said it with a light tone, but the words replayed in my head for weeks after that. My father knew my manuscript for Hurricane Crimes was being considered by the senior editor of The Wild Rose Press and how I was fighting to get disability, so his question and that phrase hurt me. Those words contributed to my emotional state at that time.

Now back to my journal entry:

I was so depressed that day that I didn’t even bother checking my email at night before I turned off my computer. Earlier I had checked the old email from the editor from The Wild Rose Press to see how much longer I had to wait [for a decision] and was very depressed to realize I’d have to wait until September for an answer. Well, the next morning, I found I had an email from the editor, which was sent the night before. I started to panic, thinking it was a denial. It wasn’t! She offered me a contract! And this is a bigger deal than the other stories I’ve published because this is with a [real publisher]. I will get to work with editors and cover artists. And it’ll be sold as an eBook.

I signed the contract July 28th!

Oh, the excitement of a first-time published author. If you haven’t experienced that joy yet, I hope you do.

I thought this journal entry would benefit you in showing that even in your hardest, darkest moments there will be a light at the end, and that when you’re so desperate you demand for something to happen, there’s a strong chance that it will, sooner than you realize.

But when hopes and dreams come true, new stresses can emerge and tough times can be on the way. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go for your dreams or hope for things because hardships will continue to come. Hardships are a part of life, but we can get through them. Each and every time.

August 15th 2013,

I am very stressed! I’ve learned so much about promotion that it’s tumbling from my ears! Not only do I have to promote my eBook when it’s published world-wide on The Wild Rose Press’s website [and on other vendors], I also have to promote my eBook when it comes out on Kindle three months before and when it’s free for five days. But I am glad I am learning all of this now. It’ll prepare me for when I get an agent and publish [print books] traditionally.

I got so stressed out in November of that same year (as well as October and December 2013) that I wasn’t eating and drinking properly. I lost six pounds and came close to dehydration. Let my mistakes be a word of warning for you. Please, please, please take care of yourself. I started to feel sick because of it. When it’s time for you to publish your first book, don’t be afraid (or too stubborn) to ask for help, take a breath, relax, pause to eat a healthy meal and drink water. Your health is much more important than your book’s release. It’s true.

The great thing is, following that stress and the release of my first eBook, a lot of good things started happening, especially with my blog. A simple nomination for a blog award from another blogger lifted my spirits and made my day. Positive comments and feedback and being mentioned in another author’s blog for my efforts to help other writers boosted my confidence and happiness as well. Those things may seem small, but when you are in the midst of a pain that no one can see and no one knows about, it means everything.

During that time, mixed in with these lovely milestones and acknowledgements that made my heart burst, I was going through one of the worst depressions of my life due to disability and poverty.

1 comment:

  1. Is it good to look back on all that now? Or does it put you back into that mindset?