While at the Retreat from Harsh Reality (http://www.retreatfromharshreality.com/)
last weekend I had breakfast with a new author who mentioned that she is really stressed due to mishaps and delays regarding her book, which is due out this summer. I tried to give encouragement, but I’m not really sure it made any difference, and I remember how I was with my first books. Back then, even if everything was going smoothly, I found ways to stress myself, which might have been one reason my blood pressure rose at that time (after years and years of being low).
As I’ve mentioned before, writers are in a very stressful profession. It’s a hurry-up-and-wait business. It’s a career where you only have so much control over what happens after you’ve written the book. With the larger publishing houses, unless you’ve become a NYT best seller, you have almost no control over the book’s title, cover, back blurb, and where the marketing department places it in their line-up. (That’s one of the nice things about the smaller publishing houses. They usually do give the writer more control over the title and cover and often the writer produces the blurb. The negative with the smaller publishers, at least up until recently, has been their lack of distribution and/or budget to promote the book.)
Our books are like our children. For months, sometimes years, the book has been a part of us, growing, changing, and taking on its own personality. We want it to have a perfect birth, to go out in the world and do well. It’s natural for us to get upset when anything goes wrong in the process, but as I told the writer who’s stressed out over the birthing of her book, she’s done all she can at this stage. It’s not worth getting stressed over. It is a book, not a person who might die if all doesn’t go well.
Back when I started writing, I think my mother realized I was getting stressed because she did a needlepoint for me of the first part of St. Francis of Assissi’s Serenity Prayer. Although my mother has passed on, I still have that needlepoint and always try to keep that prayer in mind whenever I start to get stressed.
God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.