Why Worry

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.

Serenity Prayer

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.


Tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Why Worry

  1. Diane Burton says:

    I love that prayer. Wish I could follow it when things get crazy. Bless you for trying to help the newbie. That is one of the most amazing thing about our group (Mid-Michigan chapter of Romance Writers of America). The members are so supportive of each other.

    Great post.

  2. Paula says:

    Good for me to read about stress right now, Maris. I have a lot going on right now. Thanks for this offering. However, the Serenity Prayer was written by Reinhold Neibuhr (and there’s more to it). There is a St. Francis prayer and it’s a goodie too. Hope to see you at group this month.

    • Maris says:

      Hi Paula, Yes, I know there’s more to the prayer, but I didn’t know it had been attributed to someone else. I specifically looked up the St. Francis of Assisi Serenity Prayer and several sites had that prayer. After reading your comment, I did a little more research and it seems there is an on-going controversy regarding when the prayer came into being and who the author might be. I guess it’s what it says that’s important, not who said it.

  3. Annette says:

    You are always so supportive, Maris. And I’m sure you did help. What a good idea for us to have an “anchor” like the Serenity Prayer to help us center when so much seems out of our control.

    Peaceful in the blue Queen Anne house, Annette

  4. Great advice, Maris. Any waiting for that book to come out is stressful, but more so for a newbie. That first book will always be special. So glad you were able to help a fellow writer. Writers helping writers – it’s a beautiful thing.

  5. Writing is most certainly a lonely and frustrating profession, and I cannot imagine not having the support of other writers like you and our chapter mates. But at some point, you do learn to let go of the worry and try to focus on the fun of telling a story. It’s the fun in the telling that made me start writing. I hope it never stops being fun.