Cities and suburbs, real and imaginary.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

GUEST POST: Patrice Sarath

Joe’s just a tiny bit busy lately what with FIVE novels coming out, finishing grad school, and getting married (whoooo!) so he asked me and a few other friends to guest blog over here just to keep the place from growing cobwebs. I said sure. Now, unlike my blog over at In Gordath Wood (http://www.patricesarath.com), Joe has standards, up to which I will try my best to live. And also, it would be rude to start a controversy over here. So instead, I’ll talk about the worst week of my life, aka, when I lost my mojo, and got it back, and how at some point it happens to almost every writer.

But first: about me. I’m the author of two fantasy novels, Gordath Wood
 and 
. I also have a third novel coming out this year, a Regency romance called The Unexpected Miss Bennet. It is based on Pride & Prejudice and there isn’t a single zombie in it (I know, right?) If you like fantasy novels with strong female characters who solve mysteries in cross-world adventures and even fall in love, my fantasy novels are for you. If you ever thought Mary Bennet in Pride & Prejudice never got a fair shake, then you’ll like The Unexpected Miss Bennet. Currently, I’m writing a sequel to Gordath Wood and Red Gold  Bridge, and this brings me to the point of this blog.

See, my first two fantasy novels didn’t sell well. The first one came out to no fanfare, no big reviews, and very little notice from anyone. Then the second one came out in the middle of the worst recession this country had seen since The Great Depression. My former agent was ill-equipped to sell the foreign rights to my books and so potential sales were lost. This was not entirely her fault – I could and still can try to sell those rights myself, but there is a point to having an agent, which is that the agent sells and the writer writes. It’s professional compact.

My career, which started with a whimper, ended with a fizzle. And then, all in about the space of a week, an agent told me that writing anything else in the Gordath Wood universe was a waste of time. Another agent said the same thing. And another...and another...

Aside: if you are wallowing in the depths of despair, do NOT listen to country music. Especially to this guy: Jarrod Dickenson, http://jarroddickenson.com/fr_home.cfm one of the finest young singer-songwriters out there whose music you should check out. You can listen to it while reading this blog.

So what did I do? I cried. A lot. Like, really a lot. And I wallowed some more, mourning a career that never got underway. And then, well, I finished writing The Unexpected Miss Bennet and sold it to a publisher in the UK with a potentially killer deal in the US. And I continued to write the third book in my fantasy series. It’s more of a reboot than a sequel as it takes the story into a different direction. Will it sell? It may not sell to my US publisher. It might have to be self-published, as so many authors are doing. But I have faith in my story. I can’t write if my heart isn’t in it. This gig is too hard and too heart-breaking to treat it like a job. And there sure isn’t enough money to write something you don’t want to write.

There’s nothing strange about  what happened to me. It happens to a lot of writers. In my case it was at the beginning of my career. Some people have been selling for years, and they hit this same wall. It’s a horrible crisis of confidence. I know one writer who when she sold her latest novel after a long dry spell was just delighted to have a new ISBN. Such a simple thing, and yet so freighted with meaning.

As a writer, there are things I can control: words, quality, story, character, whether I give up or not, and things I can’t:  macroeconomics. Last year I had an unpleasant reminder of what I can’t control. Fine, I get it. Lesson learned.

So thank you for listening to my sad cautionary tale. If you have any questions, drop a line in the comments and I’ll try to answer if I can.

And everyone tell Joe congratulations!




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