The Insanity of Being a Writer

Posted by Katie L. Carroll on June 5, 2011 in Anecdote, Writing |

I come across a lot of quotes in my day job as puzzle master (i.e. puzzle magazine editor). After a while, it seems I’ve seen them all. One in particular, though, always makes me think of my pursuit to be a published author.

“Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results.”

I’ve seen this quote attributed to Albert Einstein, Rita Mae Brown, and an Alcoholics Anonymous publication. Where ever it came from, I think it’s interesting that this definition of insanity could actually apply to many writers.

As writers, we are constantly sending out work and getting rejections. Then we turn right back around and send that work out again and hope for a different response. Does that make us optimistic? Persistent? Confident in our work? Well, according to the above quote, it could actually make us insane.

True, because we don’t keep sending our work to the same person over and over again that might not make us insane. Yet I still can’t help but feel like the whole submission process, even when there is hope of an agent or editor who has never seen your work connecting with it, is insane (and masochistic!).

It’s like saying, “Here is my manuscript, a snapshot of my heart and soul in words. I’ve been working on it for months, years, maybe even decades. Please take a look at it. I know you’ll probably say it isn’t ‘right’ for you. Maybe you’ll even hate it. Maybe you won’t even read it before rejecting it. No matter, when you reject me, I’ll take it personally, even though I know I shouldn’t, and I’ll feel like my work isn’t good enough…that I’m not good enough.”

And we do this over and over again. INSANE!!!

Then again, anyone who has a big dream probably has to be a little insane. When it comes to big dreams, success is almost always a long shot. And where would the world be without big dreamers? So maybe a little insanity in the right places is a good thing. I’ll just keep telling myself that anyway!

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  • Kelly Hashway says:

    Are we all insane? Probably, but I don't think we are insane for sending our work out over and over hoping someone will love it. Why? Because this industry is completely subjective. People have different opinions and different tastes. So while the process may be the same, it doesn't mean the result will be. So keep submitting.

  • Cate Gardner says:

    I embrace insanity 😀

  • Katie L. Carroll (KT) says:

    You're absolutely right, Kelly. That's why I haven't stopped submitting. It's just a nice outlet to get a little snarky about it on my blog!

    Cate, we'll embrace the madness together!

  • Tawny Frogmouth says:

    Well, I have a book I bought after college called Guerilla Tactics In the Job Market. And I remember something that was brought up repeatedly in it. Success = No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. Yes.

    Hmm, that's really corny when I look at it. Barf. I'll try to come up with something better next time.

    The word verification this time is despang! Sounds like a description of a noise. Or a car part.

  • Katie L. Carroll (KT) says:

    Add about 200 more No's, and that's probably about average for how many it takes before you get that yes on a book deal (or at least it feels that way). 😉

    Despang could be like some sort of insult. Oh, you just got despanged! HA!

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