Someday, someone you know will get their novel published. If you take enough workshops and hang around with people who write long enough, it’s almost inevitable. If you’re lucky, it will be a truly lovely human being who has serious writing chops and has worked their butt off and totally deserves it. And, if you’re even more lucky, you’ll be able to be happy for them (a few initial pangs of rage/jealousy/bitterness/self-
But maybe you won’t be so lucky. Maybe the person who gets their book published is awful, almost as awful as their erotic adventure thriller about a super-sexy vampire pastry chef who fights crime with her magic dildo. Okay, that’s a bad example. I would read the crap out of that. But you know, something unimaginably awful, with idiotic characters, strained dialogue, and plot twists that make you want to put your head through a wall. That person, who monopolized every workshop, tossed off mean-spirited criticism while at the same time dismissing any criticism of their own work with a sniff and an eye-roll. You know, that person.
So, yeah, that person. That person will get their book published. Or land a hot agent. Or get accepted to an awesome MFA program. Or, god forbid, sell the movie rights to their literary abomination.
And it will suck. Hard. So hard. But before you start flushing pages down the toilet and making work for your local plumber, know that others have gone through this, and that there is light at the end of this very dark tunnel. Your process will manifest in the following six stages.
Shock – When you first hear the news, try to sit down before your legs buckle beneath you. Variations on a single question will start running on a loop in your head: “That person? Seriously, that person? That person is publishing a book? That person?” Hopefully, you’ll already be at a bar,
because the next stage is . . .
Drinking – Or whatever your vice/self-medication of choice may be.
Dismay (Global) – You mourn the abysmal state of the publishing industry. You know dozens of people who have written brilliant books and have been turned away for stupid reasons: their work is too literary or not literary enough, their characters are “unlikeable”, their subject matter is too provocative, it’s not set in the right period. Or just a general “nobody’s reading books like this right now”. Really, nobody? Because you loved it! You would plunk down your hard earned shekels to read more like it! But, no, those aren’t the books that get published. That person’s book gets published.
Dismay (Personal) – If that person can publish their book, what’s the matter with you? You, who are still banging away at your novel for, how many years now? Dear God, has it really been that many? Why do you even bother? Maybe you should throw it out, write something that will sell. What is it the kids are into these days? Tweets? Pirates? Maybe you’ll write a book about a tweeting pirate. And he’ll have a hot sidekick. With nice boobs. Boobs never go out of style. Maybe you should be writing that instead.
Acceptance – Okay, so some jerk got his lousy book published? There are plenty of lousy books out there. Some of them even got really popular and sold a bajillion copies. But, you know what? They’re still lousy. And they will always be lousy. And now that person’s name will always be attached to their lousy book, forever and ever, in perpetuity throughout the universe.
Renewal – If this stokes your competitive fire a little bit, let it. Pay for that last drink, go home, and get back to it. Because it’s better to publish one amazing book that you’re proud of than all the disposable crap in the world. So let that person have their glory. You’ve got work to do.