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We Poor, Pathetic Writers and Our Martyr-like Self-delusions

Writers are a pretty pathetic bunch. Especially, perhaps, those of us who want to have a book published, but haven’t yet. We have these odd tensions that are unresolved, like so many guitar strings tuned to the point of snapping. I don’t know if this ever changes, but one thing we writers do is try to convince ourselves that it’s everyone’s fault but our own when we fail. The excuses erupt.

It’s the state of publishing, the “ecomony,” lazy agents, the stupidity of book-buyers (Twilight, Left Behind, choose your hated success story), etc. –whatever makes us feel like it’s not us. It couldn’t possibly be that I stink.

Sit near struggling writers and you will smell the distinct odor of burned martyr. The unvalidated genius at the stake. “It was too good for them!” he cries against the flames.

Of course, sometimes it’s true. I think I know of some cases, myself. (I mean, people really do buy teen-angst, vampire books like crazy.)

I don’t have much to say about this pathetic streak in us, just wanted to let you know that it’s normal if you know some one struggling with P.W.S. (Pathetic Writer Syndrome). So, hug your writer friends and tell them, “There, there…poor baby,” in a gentle way.

As for us, the writers? At best it’s an annoying thing we need to get over. At worst it reveals an idol in our lives that we need to let go of/destroy. Because rejection by a publisher (or agent) is not our personal hell and publication/success is not our personal savior. If we are thinking of this situation in a religious, all-consuming way…maybe it’s a worship issue. We are made to be worshipers. Ourselves, ensconced on a throne built of literary success, makes for a lousy idol.

Here’s a cartoon from Rachel Gardner’s blog. It’s a self-deluded writer’s perspective on things.

Though some of this “Bewail the state of things!” is grounded in truth (and seems to be, perhaps, increasingly true), I still think that if our work is good enough it can and will be published (perhaps by a small press –that option is increasingly attractive in many ways). But things do have to line up for us and we have to work really hard. And that’s not even factoring in the sovereign hand of the God who does things for his own glory and our good, including sometimes allowing (or even causing) us to fail.

Like most things in life, this isn’t easy. Whoever said it was easy is lying, or selling something.

At least that’s what it looks like from here. But what do I know? I’m not a success story.

Yet. But it’s legitimately not my fault. It’s, um….it’s…

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