Publishing is a crazy business full of crazy people. The business model is crazy; for mass market, about half of the books shipped are stripped instead of sold and the average author is paid $5,000 for writing said book. By the time you deduct 15% for agent fees, taxes, and business expenses from that 5K, you’d be better off working as a greeter at Walmart. At least they make minimum wage. Although they do have to brush hair, dress, leave the house, smile and make eye contact.
Clearly we’re not in it for the money. And that’s because we’re crazy people. (Readers and editors, take note about the part where writers are proven to be genetically predisposed to take criticism poorly. It’s in our GENES.) Basically the difference between your average writer and your average schizophrenic seems to be intelligence. If you’re smart enough, you can put your crazy in a book instead of just raving. And get paid $5,000 for it, less 15%, taxes, and expenses. Okay, maybe we’re not that smart.
So when you have a crazy business full of crazy people, where do you find sanity?
First of all, understand the crazy exists and whenever possible, check it at the door. What door? Whatever door it tries to come in, because if you let it, the crazy will overrun your life. If it helps, put a basket by your office door and drop a paper that says "crazy business" into it whenever you go in to work or come out to rejoin your family and live the rest of your life. Your family will thank you for not letting the crazy business into their space and your writing will thank you for not letting it into the work.
And with family and work, we have two more keys to managing crazy. Your family will keep you grounded in the real world. And your work will keep you grounded in your self. Your best self, your true self, the self that imagines wonderful worlds and amazing adventures and says some deep things in the process that you didn’t even know you knew or believed.
I wash dishes and take out trash and play ball or build legos with kids, and that’s sanity. I write down scenes and solve plot problems and that’s sanity. In the daily busines of living life, you can keep your balance and not lose your mind on the crazy train that is publishing. Yes, the business is nuts. Yes, the people are too. But so what? I’d be a lousy Walmart greeter.
And now I have another scene to write and laundry to fold. Go visit PBW for the full Left Behind and Loving It virtual workshop list!