View Full Version : On The Event Horizon

04-24-2008, 06:46 AM

And if you could see,
What it's done to me,
To lose the love I knew,
Could safely lead me to,
The land that I once knew,
To learn as we grow old,
The secrets of our souls.
-Justin Hayward


04-24-2008, 06:51 AM
I have absolutely no one to talk to. No one to vent to. No one to talk to me. No one to share with. No one to learn from.

Well, now you do.

It's a horrible slump you're in, but poke around here. Share some of your work. There are plenty of people here to help you and absorb your frustration.

You may never be a successful writer.

But you just might.

Welcome to AW.

04-24-2008, 07:10 AM
Well, hon. It looks like you have the fundamentals of writing down.
Soul killing day job--check
Spouse that just doesn't get it--check
Spiraling depression--check

ETA: I almost forgot...
Unappreciated masterpieces--check, check, check

Welcome to the sandbox!

Gray Rose
04-24-2008, 07:32 AM
Hang out with us, share your work. Find a better job. I'm serious.

PM'd you.

Welcome to AW.

04-24-2008, 07:42 AM
Welcome aboard. This is the place for venting and more importantly connecting with people who are in similar situations. Particularly, the issue of the unsupportive spouse speaks to me. My husband--great guy--has zero interest in my writing. Oh, he'll make vague supportive remarks when I get a rejection or an acceptance on a short story, but he just doesn't care. Has never read what I write. I'm trying to use that to motivate me. He doesn't have to care, as long as I keep trying to succeed.

So, hang out, chat, work on your writing, and hang in there.

I so often see successful writers talking about how their spouses have been so helpful. Mine, while a wonderful person, has been completely useless. She has absolutely no interest whatsoever in anything I write. That alone is terribly demotivating.

04-24-2008, 08:39 AM
My first book is being published in the fall. Not the first book I wrote, I should note. It is in fact the twelfth. I finished my first novel on Valentine's Day, 1987. Along the way I wrote:

-12 novels
-24 screenplays
-1 stage play

None of which ever sold until now. I also got a master's degree in screenwriting from UCLA. A real overnight success!

I would suggest that you not put so much weight on writing to change your life. Even if success comes your way, you will find that the money is usually not enough to change your work situation, and that the problems you have in your personal life will still be there the next day. And the next and the next. Face those real problems. Then worry about the writing.

I wish you well.

Saundra Julian
04-24-2008, 09:23 AM
You don't write like a rocket scientist. I sat next one at a function and didn't understand half of what the man said. He spent the first part of the evening telling me all about his work and I was sure I'd be killed before I left the room.

The second half he told me how he liked to take long walks and watch foreign films. Needless to say we didn't have a thing in common and I left him brokenhearted, but hey, much to my credit, I was polite and didn't nod off once!

You, on the other hand, sound interesting...complex, articulate, and sad. Don't be sad. We'll listen for a while then we'll kick your butt and tell you to get busy sending out more queries.

If it's any consolation and I'm sure it not, agents and editors hate my book too but I'm still sending the damn thing out!

Want to tell us about your books?

04-24-2008, 09:38 AM
First, I would like to know what genre you write in. I have my suspicions, and if I'm right, you have a hell of a platform going for you in that regard. What has your submission history been like? Number of rejections? Agents and publications you've tried?

Since 1986--18 books written--20 shorts--six radio plays, hundreds of poems and articles.

Published--Five books--15 shorts--two radio plays, and hundreds of articles.

Welcome to AW. I think we can help you.


Karen Duvall
04-24-2008, 09:57 AM
Hey there, Mel Man, so sorry that you're blue. You're not alone. Many of us share similar cirumstances, either all or in part, so you're among friends. We're great listeners.

You sound like a man who needs to follow his passion. I'm sorry your wife isn't supportive and that she's angry, but it's possible she doesn't understand the gravity of your situation. Regardless, your employment situation needs to be addressed pronto! Yeah, power wash driveways. Sell yellow page ads. Get yourself a knife-sharpening machine and travel to every hair salon in your state (I hear these guys make some righteous bucks sharpening scissors). Your rut is killing you, man, and it's not about the writing. It's about your heart. It sounds like it's breaking.

Hang with us at The Cooler. We'll offer support and suggestions. Or we'll just hang out and talk about the weather. You need a friend and we've got your back. Really. :Hug2:

04-24-2008, 10:02 AM
Hey MelancholyMan,

I used be a math oriented engineer, made calcs all day long, checked others' calcs all day long. I switched to another career that I'm still doing for a day job and a pay check. At night and on weekends I write, or try to write. Two novels finished and a wonderful agent at last. So it can be done at least this far. Have a spouse like you--she tries but just recently got it, sort of. I had to cajole her come with me to a really cool conference where all kinds of people spoke who she knew and read and could relate to. And I had two kids to put through college who only recently got what I'm doing. The lesson I took: No one understands writers except other writers. It's so isolated and selfish. Can't stand to have anyone around when I write. But I'm a bit older than you--age levels the highs and lows, the amplitudes aren't as big. So I think I've managed to support the folks I need to support and still, finally, allowed my writing to get going without running off to Tahiti along the way. I've also learned that for me the day job is a good change of pace. I could not stand looking at a computer all day feeling compelled to write. My below-surface mind keeps working characters and plots and details even at work.

Hope it helps to know you're not alone, and this is a great site to lament, get feedback that's often spot on, and to learn from the journeys of many others. Good luck. g.

04-24-2008, 05:15 PM
Welcome, Mel Man! I hear you on the crap job thing. I worked as a teacher for 4 years, and while I loved the kids- most of them, at least- the red tape and syncophantic behavior made me want to pull my hair out every day. Writing was my escape.

You've definitely come to the right place! We're always here to lend support and an ear when you need to vent!

ink wench
04-24-2008, 08:03 PM
Hang in there, Mr. Melancholy. There's an awful lot of venting that goes on in these here boards. Also an awful lot of learning and sharing too, which does wonders for the writing and the spirit.

Jobs often suck, but if there's not even a glimmer of enjoyment then maybe it's time to switch careers. As for spousal support, that's a mixed bag around here. Some people are lucky, others not so much. My husband reads most of what I write and gives brutally honest feedback, but as for the rest - he's just waiting until I make him (us?) Rowling rich. But his hobbies don't interest me either, so I can't complain.

So hang around, look around. When you're feeling up to it consider checking out the SYW forum. We beat MS and query letters into shape over there. It's frequently painful, but it could help.

04-24-2008, 08:46 PM
Gasoline at $4 a gallon!
You lucky sod!
1.35 a litre here, yep I now think we have the most expensive in the world.

I wonder if getting yourself a good beta reader would help? Just the one mind. Somebody who is in tune with what you write.

I don't have anybody either (like lots of folks on here) but now have a beta reader with whom I can at least share my stuff, get an honest (hopefully) response but doesn't ding my confidence with every misplaced comma. Lots of my commas undergo this unfortunate fate!

04-24-2008, 10:29 PM
You've come to the right place. We all understand what you're talking about, right down to the core, and there's nothing you can say that will shock us. Um, short of capital crimes, of course.

I chose long ago to work a low-paying job because I could do it in my sleep, and it leaves my brain and creativity for my writing. I chose another writer as my partner -- we love and believe in each other's work. A lot of people would consider me poor, but hey, I've learned to be happy without all the toys. No kids. No pets. I can write!

I still get pissed off with this crazy life, and I'm awed and daunted to read about all the distractions so many endure. When the distractions are also duties and people you love, ouch! Pulled between two teams of horses.

Keep coming back. Keep talking to us. Share your work. Look for a beta-reading friend.

This is the right place.

04-25-2008, 07:26 PM
I've taken a day to ruminate your responses and have come to the conclusion that maybe, just maybe, I'm not completely insane. Then again, perhaps we are all insane. If so, then so be it, for sanity must be overrated.

But honestly, thanks. What else can I say. Here I vent on complete strangers who have no reason to care, and yet you do. I've reached out to so many people who are supposed to care (family, friends, church) only to be stymied with stony silence and that diffident stare you get when you announce to friends that you're writing a novel. You know the one, the what-do-you-think-you-re-the-next-Tom-Clancy-? stare. I didn't get there here, or rather, its text equivalent. Perhaps it does take a writer to understand a writer. But giving a crap is something all humans should be capable of. (And interestingly, that those in the poorer countries still seem to be able to do.)

It is wonderful though, to find kindred spirits. No, not wonderful. Far to weak a word. Rather... the way it would feel if I were marooned on an uninhabited planet and, after searching for years, discovered a colony of humans that didn't try to eat me when I stumbled out of the desert. I could sense in so many of your responses a genuine empathy. The kind that arises from shared experience. You too have sat bathed in the glow of your laptop screen, night after night, for years, wondering if there is any point to your efforts.

I don't know what to do with some of the things you shared, yet. How do I change careers when there are people I love fiercely, who so depend on the career I am currently in? My wife while totally uninterested in my writing is not totally unsupportive. Even though she has no clue how to support me. And my kids are intensely interested in what I'm doing, and helped a little on the YA I just finished. They are such talented, fantastic people how can I sacrifice their dreams for my daydreams? Some of you made offers of help. But now I feel guilty. Yes I need all the help I can get, we all do, but... Let me just put it this way, I come from a family where bootstraps pull themselves up by their own bootstraps and anything less is weakness. Thankfully I'm beyond that idiocy in a practical sense, but somehow I've got to get past it emotionally and learn how to give and take without feeling like I'm somehow being insincere. I don't know how to say, "Yes, I'm writing spec fiction, you offered to help. Here I am," without feeling like I'm being manipulative. Even doing it this way makes me feel I'm being disingenuous. Human nature is so tangled. Vexing! The very substance of dramatic tension.

Anyway, I'm at work now, and they actually expect me to work sometimes so I better get going. I'll be a regular on this forum now so thanks for the welcome, the advice, the kind words, and everything that has made me feel a little less like that unknown thing I fear I'm becomming.


04-25-2008, 10:46 PM
Feel for you. You're in a valley right now. Hang tough, the cloud will lift. Only writers understand writing. I've learned not to expect it. Only one of my kids has ever read anything of mine. I think it has to do with the prophet not getting any respect at home. Or as they say in the consulting trade, "The farther you get from home, the smarter you become."

Maybe you need to take a break and decompress. It sounds like you're counting on your writing changing your life, and it can, but mostly it's an internal thing. The majority of writers do not make a living at it...just as the majority of musicians are not Paul McCartney and the majority of actors are not Tom Hanks. It all comes down to loving what you're doing. (Not your day job, your writing)

04-26-2008, 05:08 PM
Wow - I never thought I'd see my story told until I read your post! This business is all about rejection, failure, quitting, and then coming back. I know - it's what I do. I can't tell you that I finally succeeded in publishing three out of ten books, etc. I can tell you this: at some point I got to the point where I enjoyed writing for writing's sake. Every time I submit to a professional magazine or agent, though, the fun gets taken out of it, but I have to remember that part of this business is being at the right place at the right time (i.e. luck). None of my fiction work has been published but I'll keep trying.

Couple of suggestions: have you tried contests? Ask people here about novel contests that sometimes pop up from small presses.

Have you tried the short story market? You might be able to take a chapter form one of your books and change it into a short. Lately I've been working on getting short stories published for a number of reasons:

1. An editor actually reads the work (at least the first paragraph), not a query letter.
2. You have a much better chance of getting personal feedback from a magazine editor who reads your work - not a fact, but it's my opinion. I got a rejection from a mag editor who told me to resubmit after revisions. Still a rejection but better than the other ones.
3. Having short fiction credits should, in theory, make it easier to get an agent.
4. The change has taken my mind off the fact that my novel hasn't moved an inch.

My advice is don't give up until you've tried everything. There's no way around this fact: this business it brutal, and lowering my expectations has helped a lot.

I forgot to add one thing: That story that the editor rejected but wanted me to resubmit? I sent it out for the hell of it, and it was a story that I didn't like. The style was a complete ripoff of Lovecraft and Stephen King, with my own plot. In a similar vein, I sent out several queries - some of them were polished on SYW, some were not. Guess which ones got me repsonses. Right. The unpolished ones. Can someone point out what lessons I should learn from those two experiences? :)

04-26-2008, 05:49 PM
Here we are to save the day! \0/

Just kidding, but a lot of us know exactly what you're going through. We can empathize and sympathize and any other thize you'd like to mention. Really, we're thize masters. :D

Point form, to save time:

* Your wife is unsupportive because she's scared you'll do some crazy thing like quit your job to become a full time writer and you'll all end up in a homeless shelter. Don't be too hard on her, because there are people who actually do this. Exactly how close to a md-life crisis age are you? Hee.

* I wonder if you have the business side of writing down. Do you know how to edit, query, target agents, etc.? Maybe that's where things are breaking down for you.

* Who exactly told you your 3 manuscripts are worthless? How many of them were there? What are their qualifications? ::shines light in your eyes to make you talk::

* You ARE pulling yourself up by your bootstraps. You're finding answers that will help you succeed from the people who are best able to help you.

* I'm jealous because you have a wealth of details stuck in your head there that you can use in your writing without having to research it. All that engineering might be good for something you enjoy after all!

* Cold slap in the face time: I remember reading that Michael Crichton used to work, like, 80 hours a week as a resident, and would drag his butt home and write his novel before and after work. If you want to be a published writer, you're going to have to write when you can, life-sucking engineering job or no. The question is, how bad do you want it? OTOH, you could write just for the enjoyment of it on your holidays and weekends and such, and there's no shame in that, either.

* Post something you've written in Share Your Work. I enjoyed this post so much I'd like to read something else you've done. :)

* Welcome to AW. ::waves::

04-26-2008, 06:06 PM
I read this and then went away and did Saturday housework, still thinking about it. People have given you a lot of good advice, Melancholy Man. It's sure true that most writers have day jobs. Most published writers just don't make enough money to live on, let alone buy health insurance. But it's always seemed to me that there's a real Catch-22 in the job situation. They can either work at a rewarding job that takes up all their creative energy or they can have a boring, soul-killing job that leaves them free to think about their book. (It's just occurred to me that you're in the Dilbert-like situation of having neither of those. Never mind.)

Anyway, I doubt if you can use writing to solve the job problem. You need to take that on separately.

As for the family, neither my son (a computer engineer) nor my husband (an ME) have ever read anything I wrote. They want me to do well but they're not interested. Sometimes that's ok, and sometimes it feels like a slap in the face.

We all write badly before we write well. That's part of the fun. :-)

04-26-2008, 08:00 PM
MM, I feel for you - I really do!
It sounds like you REALLY need to get a new career. Probably won't pay as much as the rocket science stuff, but you need a major life change. Maybe a move to a more affordable part of the country? Somewhere away from the daily grind you are so fed up with. I did that about six years ago when I had a similar breaking-point in my life and it was the best thing ever.
Pack it in, make a move, do something drastic. Something in your situation must change and you must make it happen. Then things will start falling into place with the writing.
Can I reccommend a film for you to watch? The Shipping News (also a novel by Annie Proulx) is about a man who is trapped in a horribly mundane life until he makes a drastic decision and moves to a really remote town in Newfoundland where he takes up writing for the small local newspaper. There, he finds himself and his calling in life. I highly recommend both the book and the movie.
All the best, my friend.

04-26-2008, 08:30 PM
Hang in there, continue to write, and use all of us here for feedback. Most are generous with advice, suggestions, and raising spirits.

04-26-2008, 09:01 PM
Are you a dad and a writer at the same time? A husband and the guy who mows the lawn? All these roles and more are NOT mutually exclusive--they never are. We just add to who we are and bring it all together best when we do what we love whether it's writing, reading bedtime stories and taking the different characters' voices, whipping up a special breakfast, showing someone how to fish for the first time, so many things make us who we are, and that we put into writing.

Gray Rose
04-27-2008, 05:19 AM
I apologize in advance for the straight talking. Only read on if you want to :)

One of the problems with being smart and articulate, says King Solomon (among other luminaries) is that you can talk yourself into the depths of misery and convince yourself there's no way out.

Just because you convinced yourself, and because you are going through hard times, does not mean there is no way out.

I don't know what to do with some of the things you shared, yet. How do I change careers when there are people I love fiercely, who so depend on the career I am currently in? My wife while totally uninterested in my writing is not totally unsupportive. Even though she has no clue how to support me. And my kids are intensely interested in what I'm doing, and helped a little on the YA I just finished. They are such talented, fantastic people how can I sacrifice their dreams for my daydreams?

Most people don't earn their livings by being rocket scientists, and yet they are able to put their children through college. The thought of changing your career path seems scary, as it should be, but please don't talk yourself into believing it is impossible. That way lies madness, or at least depression.

The fact that your job makes you so miserable has nothing to do with your writing. It might seem this way to you because writing makes you happy or happier, and you yearn to escape into it, but the two issues are really separate. IMHO you should also think about the example you set to your children. Are you teaching them that leading such an unhappy life for their sakes is somehow virtuous? Do you want your children to feel the way you feel now when they are your age?

You can support your family and be happy too, or at least not so fiercely unhappy. Remember, when you are on a plane, they say you need to put your oxygen mask on before you put on your child's? Take care of yourself first. That does not make you selfish.

Some of you made offers of help. But now I feel guilty. Yes I need all the help I can get, we all do, but... Let me just put it this way, I come from a family where bootstraps pull themselves up by their own bootstraps and anything less is weakness. Thankfully I'm beyond that idiocy in a practical sense, but somehow I've got to get past it emotionally and learn how to give and take without feeling like I'm somehow being insincere.

By helping each other we become wiser and richer emotionally, not to mention better in our craft. Spec writers in particular tend to form communities (and probably others do too, but I only know my corner of this). Put the drama on simmer and come hang out with us; we do it because it is fun.

I don't know how to say, "Yes, I'm writing spec fiction, you offered to help. Here I am," without feeling like I'm being manipulative.
Well, you just said it. That part is done and over with. Now, SF forum is here (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?f=39), SFF SYW is this way (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?f=67), Speculative Poetry group is that way (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=100507), and you can find people's PMs in their profiles.

See you around!

04-28-2008, 04:11 PM
I sympathize with you completely. I'm a technical writer by trade, and, most of the time, I hate it. It's boring and uncreative but it pays the bills and it's what I'm qualified to do.

I've written 3 novels and more than a dozen short stories in the 5 years I've been writing (in my adult life) and no one wants them either. Actually, I haven't shopped the last novel yet, but it's best to be prepared.

If you enjoyed teaching, is there a way for you now to move into teaching engineering at the college or university level? You'd be earning money but you'd be interacting with people instead of numbers. Teaching can be creative and you might just be more inspired to write at the end of the day.

Whatever you decide, you sound like a nice guy and I wish you well. I hope you stick around AW.

Mr Sci Fi
04-28-2008, 06:44 PM
I wish I could "Fall" into something like Rocket Science.

04-29-2008, 06:13 AM
At the urging of several of you I just posted some of my stuff on the SYW/Young Adult forum at http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=100924 . It is my latest work, a YA that is complete but in polishing. I also put up a Beta read request at http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=100865 for some other completed work.

What a wonderful forum for us crazy people to get together and provide mutual support so folks like me and avoid the straight-jacket a little longer. Thanks to everyone.


05-01-2008, 08:50 AM
Just read the response from your first beta ... positive to say the least!

Maybe now is the time to start telling folk just how many subs you have made, what rejections you have received and getting people to look over your query letter?

You say the book is 200k - a lot of folk will jump on you simply because of the high word count, it could also be that agents you have subbed to have snubbed you simply because of this as well. 200k for a first time author is seen as very difficult to publish. I'm not saying it's impossible, but it could be your initial stumbling block when trying to get past the gate keepers.

This incidentally, is coming from someone who subs rhyming text picture books which is a comlete waste of time because everyone knows that the majority are rubbish - if you get my point.

05-01-2008, 06:52 PM
I think a good start would be for some authors here on AW with connections to big publishers to take a look at MM's 'Silla Project' book. Anybody with those connections?

I read the first fifty pages and was stunned. It reminded me of The Bourne Identity, but better. Within fifty pages, the book will have you "brainwashed" into believing things you didn't think possible. It happened to me, and I'm a pretty dogmatic person. I'm still trying to figure out how. It feels like a best-seller, with a blockbuster movie to follow.


05-01-2008, 08:00 PM
Not a bad start for your first beta, eh Melancholy?

Anybody out there with connections (that wouldn't be me!)