Yesterday, a writer friend (who will remain unnamed) phoned to vent a bit. "This business is like a slithering, mindless snake that eats you up," she complained. "No one tells you how your book is doing. No one communicates with you unless it hits a list!" On and on she went, making me smile. She's published four novels and is doing well with her career, but she was having a crappy day (which is certainly allowed) and...here I was.
She's right about how tough this business is, though. You can't just write a good story, throw it out there, and expect millions of readers to gleefully buy it. It just doesn't happen that way. You have to write that good story, but you must also be willing to plot and plan and network and self-promote.
Oh, and you have to love writing. Did I mention that?
As fiction writers, we get to invent people and places as we leap and fly and fall. We get to make it up as we go, sending shivers down reader's spines, making goose bumps pebble on their arms, making them laugh or reach for Kleenex as they cry. How great is that?! But here's my favorite part: when we lose ourselves writing a story that won't let go, we don't have time to worry about how we're doing in the big picture, and sometimes that's okay.
P.S. Note to friend - you're doing fine! You're making a living, you've hit a few lists, and you've had your novels published in eight foreign countries. Shake it off and get back to writing that story you told me about :)