I’ve seen several discussions regarding writers losing the initial excitement they had when they started writing. Some of that loss, I believe, is due to reality replacing the anticipated results of being published; i.e., our book hitting best seller charts, awards, TV and radio interviews, instant recognition.

On December 8, 2016,I will be interviewed on LA Talk Radio “The Writer’s Block.” (http://latalkradio.com/content/writers-block )

Over the years I’ve been on TV and radio; yet, rarely do people (other than family and friends) know I’m a writer. Of course,  those interviews have not been on Oprah, or any of the network TV shows. Even this talk show, although it originates in Los Angeles, will not rocket me to fame. For one thing, it’s an Internet radio station. (Actually 2 stations now.) It can be listened to on your computer, smart phone, or iPad. You can listen to it live, or as an archived show. (My live interview will be on at 7:00 p.m., Pacific Time. That means—because I live in the Eastern Time Zone—I have to be up at 10:00 p.m. to be interviewed and listeners in my area must also be up at 10:00 p.m. to hear the live interview. The interview will then be archived.)

My point is, as much as I’m looking forward to this interview and the opportunity to talk about my books, on the day after the interview, I won’t suddenly be a nationally famous writer.

My guess is I’ll never be a famous writer, and yes, that is a disappointment. I have some wonderful fans (people I actually don’t even know, people who, besides my family, have bought and enjoyed my books), but I’ll never be the key note speaker at a conference, I’ll never have to wear sunglasses to hide my identity, or have to have a secretary to handle all of the requests for interviews.

When we start, we have dreams. (Which is good.) We love the story or stories running around in our heads, and we can’t wait to get them written and published so others can enjoy our stories. We tell ourselves that’s all we want…but then, once that first (or first few) stories have been published, we realize we want more. We want the peer recognition, the 5 star reviews…the money. That initial thrill is replaced with a desire for more, and if we don’t achieve all we dream of, we are disappointed.

Some writers stop writing at this point. Others go through the ups and downs of publishing and ultimately do achieve some degree of stardom. (We’ve all heard of the overnight success stories about writers who had 20 or more books published before the “break-through” novel that has put them at the top of the NYT best seller list and onto the silver screen.)

Of course, there are always those writers who do rocket to fame with the first or second book. Do they reach a point where they are disappointed? I don’t know, but I do know there are some writers who write a book that’s acclaimed by all, then never write another for fear the next won’t be as good.

Most of us are going to face disappointment at some time or another. A lot depends on the dreams we had to start with and how willing we are to modify those dreams with the reality of life. You may never have that same excitement that came the first time you sat down to write, but every now and then a story will pop into your head that brings back that feeling.

Between those times, writers write.

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16 Responses to Disappointment

  1. We’re definitely on the same wave length. Although I’ve had much publication and won awards for writing, I would hardly call myself a well-known writer. And at a certain age, that does become disappointing. But if I had it to do over, I would still write. It’s best to dwell on the positive. Keep the glass half-full I think.

    • Maris Soule says:

      Jacqueline, sometimes I think it would be great to be one of those best selling authors (money, recognition), but I remember reading how Grisham had to build a security wall around his place to protect his children and give his family privacy. There are always two sides to everything.

  2. This is an interesting topic, and I’m glad you’re exploring it. When I began I wanted only to write, and then to do something with what I wrote. That has remained, and I’m grateful for the enthusiastic readers I’ve found–strangers I would never meet otherwise. I’m not famous, I’m not known, and I’m not unhappy about that. But like any other writer, I think I’d like some kind of acknowledgment that writers offer something valuable to the community and the world. That rarely happens but we still write.

    • Maris Soule says:

      Susan, it seems to be something in our makeup that forces us to write, whether we receive recognition or not. I’ve told others if you can stop, then do so. Writers can’t stop.

  3. Melissa Keir says:

    Powerful post. It happens to everyone, writers or not. But people who see disappointment as a building block will move past it. A closed mindset will shut down. I try to find something good about each failure or setback and then move forward.

    • Maris Soule says:

      Good point, Melissa. We can and should learn from each failure or setback. Sometimes, what I’ve learned, is I don’t have a strong enough desire to do the work or write the type of book that might give me fame. I don’t like marketing, and I like writing what I want, not necessarily what the book selling market wants.

  4. I’m the co-host of the online radio show, The Writer’s Block, and really looking forward to chatting with you tomorrow night. This is a compelling topic and one our listeners will enjoy, as will host and author Jim Christina and I. We’re not well known either, and I can relate to a lot of your comments. No one stops me on the street, or says “Hey, I recognize your voice! Aren’t you on that radio talk show…?” But we created this platform out of love – for those that create, to honor and celebrate the written word, to support writers growing their audience, and because we enjoy speaking with and exploring the creative spirit. It’s our way of validating the power of the written word and the importance of honoring its creators. What’s amazing to us is the number of downloads we’ve had on iTunes and Google Music! Someone is out there listening! This is a great topic to explore and I can’t wait to meet you!! (Now, back to “A Killer Past” – still have several chapters to go!! Love it!)

    • Maris Soule says:

      Thanks, Bobbi Jean, for taking the time to comment. I’m looking forward to talking with you and Jim tonight. I’ve listened to a couple of your shows and love the way you entwine humor and good information into the hour. (I’m glad you’re enjoying A Killer Past.)

  5. Catherine Dilts says:

    Maris, excellent post! I believe this applies to other arts as well. Community theater, for instance. There are folks performing locally who will never make it big on Broadway or in Hollywood, but continue to be involved because of their love of theater. And we the audience appreciate them as much as, or maybe even more than, those mega stars.

    • Maris Soule says:

      Catherine, you are so right about the topic applying to other arts. I’m a painter as well as a writer. I paint for my enjoyment and as a relaxation. I have no desire to show my work or enter competitions, but I know other artists who paint, sculpt, and work in other mediums that do fantastic work, but they’ll never be famous, won’t make big bucks selling their work, yet they enjoy the creating and people like me enjoy what those unknown artists create. And yes, a good actor may never be a household name, but he or she can certainly bring a play to life.

  6. Chanta Rand says:

    Thank you for posting this. I think it all boils down to figuring out your goal. I don’t need awards or accolades. All I want to be able to do is make a living from solely writing. I guess what’s considered “a living” can mean different things to different people. So, enough to support my self and not have to go back to Corporate America. Whether that be $50,000 a year or whatever, it’s an amount I feel comfortable earning to pay my bills and take a great vacation each year. I don’t ask for much. LOL!

    • Maris Soule says:

      Ah, but Chanta, there are many writers who would like to be in your position; however, for some reason or other they will never make enough to support themselves solely from their writing. And that will be a disappointment to them. It’s when a goal doesn’t match reality that a writer either has to either modify that goal or give up and do something else…assuming the writer can stop writing.

  7. I tried to think of something that disappoints me about writing and couldn’t think of a thing. I chose to postpone the effort until I was retired from the business world; I choose to write when I want and not write when I don’t want; and I’d love a lot of money but never expected it so can’t whine about not getting it.

    Maybe it’s high expectations that disappoint us in the end. With low expectations, I can sail on happily doing my thing whenever.

    • Maris Soule says:

      Patricia, I believe you’re right, and not just about writing and being a writer. It’s those who read the success stories (instant fame, lots of money, invitations to talk shows, movies made of your books)and believe it will happen to them–No, more than believe, they expect it will happen to them–they are the ones who most often are disappointed. Writers/People in general, who have realistic expectations generally are happy with almost everything they do.

  8. JoAnn McGrath says:

    For several years post retirement, I craved writing for the sake of learning the craft. My living had been made. The learning curve was huge, the challenge unending. Maris, you have me considering several factors as to why I stopped writing for over a year now. I had been developing life chapters, memoirs from my childhood and some of it not pretty. Word gets out. People object. You vacillate between second guessing yourself and forging ahead. When what you are writing about is also still unfolding, you fear the ending. So I stopped and waited. As I write this, I feel ready again and glad to be connected to other writers! Nice to meet you at the Venice Writers’ Group!

    • Maris Soule says:

      JoAnn, I’m looking forward to getting to know you better. At the meeting, when you talked about your writing, it sounded very interesting and necessary, not only for you but also for others in similar situations. I’m glad you’re feeling ready to go on with your projects.