On Insanity…

(This is one of those posts in which I attempt to make myself feel more normal by commiserating with all of you. Thanks in advance for humoring me. ♥♥♥)

By “the same thing over and over again,” I’m referring to revising and/or rewriting repeatedly with the goal of one day launching a publishing career.

So. I understand that with each completed draft I become a stronger writer. And that makes me SO happy. And I understand that publishing can be slow and frustrating and that there are no guarantees. I understand that not every writer becomes a published author, and I get that all writers experience moments of doubt and defeat. I have a well-researched, realistic view on the industry, and I realize that no matter how glamorous an author’s life may seem, no one has had an easy go of it. Writing is hard. Rejection is hard. Publishing is hard.

That being said, I  have a determined (stubborn?) streak that will not let me give up. I will continue to march toward my goal for as long as I am mentally capable of imagining and physically capable of typing. But…

Lately, when  family and friends (who are very sweet and well-meaning) ask me the dreaded, “Hey, when’s your book going to be published?” question, I have to suppress cringe. Because… I don’t know. I don’t know when my book’s going to be published. I don’t even know if this particular book will  see the light of day, ever. It’s kind of out of my hands at this point.

So, when asked that dreaded question, I end up answering with mumbles about an umpteenth revision, and then the family member or friend ends up giving me The Look. You probably know the one: It’s kind of confused and kind of piteous. Like, Oh, you cute girl (or bored housewife or crazy person). You must have such fun with your imaginary friends. Another revision, huh? How many revisions have you done on that book, anyway? When will the madness end? 

Yes. Yes, I am revising again. Yes, I know that probably sounds insane. Yes, sometimes I feel insane, and that sucks. But my story is better for it. And when my first book sells, trust that I will shout about it from the rooftops. In fact, you’ll probably be sick to death of hearing about it by the time the book ever sits on a bookstore shelf.

Until then, I’m going to embrace the insanity and continue to plug away, honing my craft, reading everything I can get my hands on, and just… writing.

Want to get in on my brand of crazy?


45 thoughts on “On Insanity…

  1. Erin L. Schneider says:

    Oh, Katy. I’ll totally join you with your brand of crazy…the more, the merrier, right?

    No one but another writer understands all the hurdles that must be achieved, in order to find our writing onto the shelves at B&N. Everyone thinks it’s such an easy task – and if it’s not, why don’t we just “self publish then?”. Like that’s the answer.

    But it will happen. Maybe not today…and maybe not tomorrow. But it will. You’re already so many steps ahead of many of us, having an agent, being on submission. You’re well on your way.

    Now it’s just that an editor needs to realize what amazing words you’ve got waiting for them. But it’s just a matter of time, my friend. And we’ll all be here to cheer you on, when it finally does happen. With beer. 🙂

    Big hugs, Katy. xoxo

    • katyupperman says:

      Oh, beer will DEFINITELY be involved in that future celebration, Erin!

      Thanks for your comment — it’s so comforting to know that I’m in good company. I am cheering you on every step of the way, friend! ❤

  2. Rachel (writes things/007) says:

    What Erin said.

    As for never-ending revisions… I handed in my R&R 4 months ago (almost 5) and have not heard a word. Since then, I realized my ms STILL needs a revision before it is agent ready (granted I also realized this after 8 rejections), and I’d like to work on it more. My critique partners are all, “You are crazy!” but I know what my book needs and I can see it now. Hopefully I’ll be able to revise and give in another draft. But if not, then I’ll revise anyway. I know what needs to happen with this book and it’ll be all the better for it. Even if nothing happens with it, I learned how to really, really, really edit. And that is such a valuable skill.

    • katyupperman says:

      Yeah… I get what you mean about knowing that a story needs to be improved, even if there’s a possibility that the story might not ever leave your laptop. There’s something to be said for doing your very best, and for presenting the very best of yourself, even if it’ll never see the light of day. It’s nice to know that I’m not alone in that feeling! I know you can do it, Rachel! ❤

  3. Rebecca Barrow says:

    I’m in, too! Just today I got caught up in one of those dreaded “so have you had anything published?” conversations and had to explain that no, none of the five books I’ve written are on shelves anywhere…but! One day (fingers crossed) they will be, and so will yours, and all the other writers out there working so hard right now.

    I’ll totally join the crazy party–Erin’s got the beer, and I’ll bring the cupcakes 🙂

    • katyupperman says:

      One day we will get to be published, and then we can get into those conversations and talk about our books and pass out business cards and smiles. 🙂 You are more than welcome to the crazy party, Rebecca — especially if you’ve got cupcakes in hand!

      Thank you for your comment. It’s very comforting to know that I’m in good company!

  4. Alison Miller says:

    Me! Me! I want to join your brand of crazy! (Although I’m already THERE) 🙂
    I’ll bring the wine. Oh, and I totally hear you on THE LOOK. Non-writers don’t get it. Anyone not going through the publishing process doesn’t get it. Probably why I stopped talking about it to non-writer folks. 🙂 Anyway, hang in there. And anytime you need to vent or scream, you know where to find me.

    • katyupperman says:

      I think you and I may have invented a whole new brand of crazy, lady. 😉 I, too, try to avoid conversations about writing with non-writers. It’s hard to understand when you haven’t been there. Yet another reason I’m SO THANKFUL for my amazing writer friends. ❤

  5. Mrs. Silverstein says:

    Oh man. I think this is why most of my brain refuses to make the connection between the writing I’m doing and the publishing process. (Obviously, there is a tiny part of me going “oh my gosh this could be a BOOK someday, which is why I keep going…but I try to only listen to it enough to get me to sit down at the computer.). But once I enter the querying phase (far enough away at this point as to seem like the stuff of myth) I know I won’t be able to ignore that little voice any more. I expect it will be like waiting for audition results…but for months. I do not think I will enjoy it. But it’s so reassuring to know that everyone goes through this kind of thing–even awesome rockstars like you!

  6. Rebecca B says:

    I love this post, Katy! And I don’t think it’s insanity–I think it’s commitment and professionalism. 🙂 I revise . . . and revise . . . and revise. And then I revise more. I think the last pass of my book was draft 10.0–and that doesn’t count the “6.1” and “7.2” revisions that weren’t big enough to merit a real draft. (Yes, I am nerdy enough that I have naming conventions for my revisions!) I am very familiar with The Look and the certain tone people use when you tell them that you are revising, again. I think no matter what stage of the process we’re at, it’s hard not to feel like revisions are endless and sometimes your wheels are spinning–or maybe *we* know another revision is the next step to take, but the outside world mistakenly *thinks* our wheels are spinning. I like to remind myself that whether those people know it or not, they’ll appreciate all the time spent revising when they read the final version someday. 🙂

    • katyupperman says:

      Thank you, friend! I love that I say CRAZY, and you say COMMITMENT AND PROFESSIONALISM. Your way is much more refined. 🙂 And yes! Readers should be THANKING writers for all those hours spent rewriting and fine-turning and obsessing. This is what produces stories worth reading!

  7. Jaime Morrow says:

    I’m already with you on your brand of crazy. I agree with Rebecca: it’s commitment and professionalism that drive you to make your stories the best they can possibly be. I know that with every single revision my own stories just get better and better and that’s definitely a good thing. I am amazed just how little non-writers actually know about the book industry. I find so many of them fall into one of two camps: 1) They think getting published is a total pipe dream and that it’ll never happen for you, or 2) They think it’s a foregone conclusion that you are going to be published, like you just have to want it enough. Both camps are equally frustrating for opposite reasons. It’s so nice to know that we have such a great community of friends who understand our special brand of crazy. 🙂

    P.S. Revising the heck out of your stories is obviously working for you, because the one I read is truly fantastic!

    • katyupperman says:

      I totally agree with you about the two kinds of non-writers. It’s hard to talk writing with either camp, which is why I mostly avoid writerly conversation in my “real” life. It is so nice to know, though, that I am in excellent company with my writer friends. You guys are seriously the best. (And thank you a million times over for your kind words about CMH. My day is made! :))

  8. Temre Beltz says:

    Katy, I LOVE this post!! And I am so completely there with you. Thank you so much for writing it and for your awesome encouragement. I am not quite sure what version of a certain project I am on except that I started it two years ago, and it started as a YA and is now an MG, and much of the plot has undergone major/nearly non-recognizable changes!! Yikes! But I can’t forget about the characters and something about it just makes me want to keep trying and I think as writers, we have to follow our hearts on some things because this is definitely a heart sort of industry (including the resilience of our hearts because you’re right, rejection will always be part of it).

    And, by the way, if you ever did try to quit, you would be getting an email from me every day to keep working 🙂 You are insanely talented and the world deserves your books, and I think I get to say this because I have had the great honor of reading your work ❤

    • katyupperman says:

      Tem, I have had a similar experience with CMH. It’s always be YA, but it was once a very, very different story. It didn’t work, but something about the characters did, and that is why I STILL can’t let it go. Here’s hoping an amazing editor eventually thinks the same way! I cannot wait to read more of your work — no matter what the genre or age level. I consider myself so lucky to count you as a CP and friend! ❤

  9. Ghenet Myrthil says:

    I agree with all the comments so far and I totally understand where you’re coming from. I’m back to revising my manuscript and I know even if I get an agent (fingers crossed!) I’ll probably end up revising it again. It never ends! Your perseverance is going to help you reach your goal of publication, and when you do finally get there, it’ll be even more exciting. Just ignore the non-writers in your life who don’t get it.

    p.s. I’ve been hearing wonderful things about your manuscript. If you ever need another beta reader, let me know! Since we seem to love all the same books, I think our tastes are very similar. 🙂

    • katyupperman says:

      Aww, thank you so much, Ghenet! I might be taking you up on your offer, depending on how this latest revision is received. I would consider myself very lucky to have you read my manuscript, and I would be thrilled to return the favor one day. That said, best of luck with this latest revision! I have a very strong feeling that we’ll be celebrating good news with you in the near future. I have heard amazing things about your writing!

  10. Tracey Neithercott (@T_Neithercott) says:

    Ah, the Most Annoying Question Ever. I get that one often, too, so I can commiserate with you. It’s funny because the non-writers in our lives expect, I don’t know, a direct upload from our brains to their Kindles, but don’t take into consideration actual authors who take their time writing. Think of George RR Martin, who sells a gazillion books but takes years to write each one.

    Of course, most people who say this mean well and really have no idea what revisions entail. And even if you feel slightly insane, you’re only making your book better. Besides, it’s obvious you’re going to get published. It’s just a matter of time.

    Also, life on the crazy train is so much more fun.

    • katyupperman says:

      Glad to have you aboard the crazy train, Trace. 🙂 And I totally agree that non-writers don’t really understand what “revision” actually means. I usually get the impression that they think I’m changing a character name or two, maybe shifting a couple of paragraphs around. Um, not exactly. (But really… I *wish* it was that simple!)

      Speaking of George RR Martin (and totally off topic!), have you read the GoT books? I am obsessed with the show, but I haven’t read the books. I’m tempted because I feel impatient about knowing what’s going to happen, but at the same time, I love how the show unfolds. So torn! #fangirlproblems

      • Caroline Richmond says:

        Just popping in to say…the books are fantastic! I was super reluctant to read them but Justin kept raving about them so I took the plunge. The third book in the series is honestly one of the best books I read—the character development is excellent and the plot kept surprising me and surprising me. George RR is such a master storyteller!

  11. Lindsey C says:

    Girl! We are totally on the same page today! And experiencing the same kind of insanity, it would seem.

  12. Elodie says:

    Your post and the comments are spot on. Thanks for sharing your “craziness” with us and making me feel a little more normal.

    Writing goals may seem a bit insane from the outside but the stubbornness, dedication and hard work is what gets us closer to our goals. Even if we don´t know what the outcome will be, this is part of who we are.

    And your writing, my dear friend, is beautiful. I am highlighting passages in my Kindle to add to my notes with my favorite parts 🙂

    • katyupperman says:

      Glad to share my crazy anytime, Elodie, especially when I know that talking (blogging) about it can be a good outlet. And thank you, wonderful friend, for your kind and flattering words about my story. I can’t even express how encouraging they’ve been!

  13. Mom says:

    Your Mama loves you, I always giggle when reading your blog. When looking at it from an Einstein view, insanity is a compliment, but I like to call it determination! Keep plugging along sweetie!

  14. Erin Funk says:

    Yes! Most days I absolutely feel crazy for spending inordinate amounts of time on something that may never pan out. And today, I even have the wacky Einstein hair, because there hasn’t been a spare moment to heat up the flat iron. For the most part, I keep my writing endeavors to myself (except online. of course) because people just don’t get it–the process or the commitment it takes. I haven’t even started querying yet, and there are days when I want to just pack in the old laptop. Your attitude about this is so inspirational, Katy! I’ll keep this post in my crazy mind next time I question why the heck I choose to put myself through all this! And when you do get a book published, you’ll have a lot of people shouting from the rooftops right alongside you! 🙂

    • katyupperman says:

      Thanks, Erin! ❤ I hope we'll ALL be celebrating good news in the not-so-distant future. It's those baby steps that make it easier to keep the old laptop out. 🙂

  15. Jennie says:

    I feel like this at least once a day…if not a hundred times a day. I’m trying to take a more positive attitude…so I’ll be looking to you for inspiration! 🙂

    • katyupperman says:

      I’m not sure if I’ll be inspiring, but I’ll do my best share experiences if I think my friends will have them in common. It’s more fun (and healthier, I think!) to write knowing that no matter what stage I’m in, I’m never there alone.

  16. Tameka says:

    Oh Katy…do you live inside my brain? I have this insanity conversation with myself at least once a day. You are not alone girlfriend! Fabulous post! ❤

    • katyupperman says:

      Thanks, lady! I think we’re ALL sharing brain space these days. Maybe spring is the time of doubt and second-guessing? Regardless, you are awesome, and you WILL get there!

  17. Caroline Richmond says:

    Katy, this is such a marvelous post! Thank you so much writing it and sharing it with us. This whole writing & publishing thing is so crazy-making, but I’m grateful that it has led me to good friends like you. 🙂

    PS I echo Ghenet that I’ve been hearing such great things about your manuscript! If you ever need an extra set of eyes, pick me, pick me! I can’t wait to see this title at my B&N one day! 🙂

  18. Erin Bowman (@erin_bowman) says:

    I said it via twitter, but this post is just priceless. And honest and brave and moving. Thank for taking the time to share these thoughts. I have no doubts that I’ll be seeing your book in stores some day, and then we will celebrate. With beer. 😉

    • katyupperman says:

      Cannot wait to celebrate, Erin. And thanks for your kind words. I definitely didn’t want to sound whiney in this post, but I had a feeling that lots of friends might be able to relate. And I feel so much better knowing they do!

  19. Bridgid Gallagher (@bridgidlee) says:

    So … Erin L. Schneider and Erin Bowman are bringing beer, Rebecca has cupcakes covered, Alison is bringing wine, I’ll make mojitos (my celebratory beverage of choice) … instead of the crazy train, I’m thinking we need a party bus! (And can someone volunteer to bring chips?)

    If we’re crazy for pursuing publication, then I am 100% delighted to consider myself one of the crazies. You people are AWESOME.

    And Katy, you are wonderful and brave for sharing this post with us. You’re not alone. And no matter what happens, the comments are proof that you have a group of people begging (like, literally begging) to get their hands on your book or, if they’ve already read it, telling you that it was awesome and they loved it.

    *blink blink*

    Are you doing cartwheels of happiness? Because I’m doing cartwheels of happiness FOR you. I know, it’s not an editor. YET. But still. Stay stubborn, Katy. We’ve got your back, and we’ll be here to cheer you on.

    PS: And for the record? I’m one of the ones who CANNOT WAIT to get her hands on your book. But I’ve decided that I will wait because, from what I’ve heard, your publication party is going to be ah-mazing. 😉

    • katyupperman says:

      Thanks so much, Bridgid! Definite cartwheels anytime anyone has anything kind to say about my writing. So motivating and encouraging! And I do love the idea of a party bus vs. a crazy train.

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