This morning I opened up my Facebook to check for comments or messages really quick before I got ready for my day job at the newspaper, and I happened to see my author bestie Chelsea Camaron had posted something in her reader group. I miss her like crazy right now, so I went to read it so I could have a peek into her life at the moment.
That’s when my heart broke.
I’m not stirring a shit pot or pointing fingers at anyone.
Honestly, I’m just sharing her post, and writing what I feel needs to be said.
Please remember that authors are human beings and not machines. We have feelings. This is a very hard industry to work in. Every time we release a book, we put ourselves out there. We know you’ll love it, or you’ll hate it. We also know that you’re going to tell us what you think. Believe it or not, we’ve braced ourselves for all of that. The good and the bad.
What we’re never ready for is a reader to get angry or upset because we’re not writing fast enough, or working on the book that they want us to work on.
Think about it like this. Do we walk into your work place and criticize you for not doing your job the way you think we should do it?
Or, how about this scenario: When you’re at a fast food place. You ordered a deluxe cheeseburger and the person behind you only ordered some french fries. While the cook is making your deluxe cheeseburger should the person serving you not give the person behind you their french fries so they can move on and the next customer can be helped?
Books don’t happen overnight. Characters don’t develop in a day. Some stories, characters and ideas take years for an author to properly cultivate.
For example: John Grisham published A Time To Kill in 1989.
The book was so popular it was eventually made into a movie in 1996.
Later it was developed into a stage play in 2011 and opened on Broadway in 2013.
The next book, Sycamore Row, was finally released in 2013.
The third book in the series, A Time for Mercy, finally released in 2020.
I’m sure John Grisham was pressured into writing more, writing faster. And if he had given into those pressures there’s a very good chance he would have written something that was only half as good as his first book, and a total compromise to both his muse and his characters.
Authors would rather give you the best of us. To do that we need readers to trust us, our muse and creativity, and have a little patience sometimes.
Trust me, we wish storylines, characters and books would magically come to fruition over night and appear on our computer screens! If that could happen we would be releasing a book every week and our bank accounts would be fat. Instead, we work for months and years over a keyboard, slowly piecing together something we hope you’ll love.
The reason I felt compelled to address Chelsea Camaron’s post was because I was exactly where she is at now a couple of years ago.
Have you noticed there have been no books published?
I was ready to walk away.
After 20+ titles, I was ready to hang up my proverbial keyboard and retire.
I loved what I did, and I love all of you, but at times it was too much. All the angry messages about “why hadn’t I written this book or this character”?
It’s taken me two years of working in my day job at the newspaper to finally reach a place where I feel like I can creatively write again.
Two. Freaking. Years.
And up until about two months ago when I went to a signing in Louisville as a reader with Super Assistant Kim and met SC Cinders face to face for the first time, I was still thinking of quitting. Hell, I had even taken my paperbacks there with me and I sat at her table and was just signing and giving them away for free because, inside of my heart, part of me was so sure I was really done with writing. But SC Cinders let me vent and chat, and she said a few things that humbled me, and then she told me not to give up. And she didn’t even know why that was why I was giving my books away for free at her table. It was a much needed chat I didn’t realize I needed at the time.
So, in the end, this is just an author asking nicely that readers stop and think before they send that angry message.
To take a second and remember that authors are human beings with lives, families, medical problems, life problems, etc..
Hell, we’ve all had pandemic problems for the last year plus!
But the point is, you don’t know what they’re going through in their personal lives, and that always affects a person’s work life. It won’t kill you to be kind.
Unless you live in Amelia Hutchins’ fictional worlds. It might kill you there.
But I digress… I’d like to think you would seriously kick yourself in the ass if an author gave up writing just because you felt like you had to send them a message on how they should write faster.
Respect their vision.
Trust their muse.
If they say they’re not ready to write a certain character yet, don’t push them to do it. They’ll give you a half ass job you’ll hate anyways.
Sometimes the wait is worth it.
Thank you to SC Cinders for being a very fun, totally endearing person to chat with.
Chelsea Camaron, I love you to the moon and back and it’s going to be okay. I have hugs, alcohol and a shovel if we really need to use it.
And readers… remember we love you, so sometimes you need to just show us a little love and understanding in return.