I Feel Guilty When I Write Fiction

Making the shift from being a nonfiction article freelance writer to fiction novelist, I had some issues with how I spent my time. First, fiction writing was so much fun! I mean, when you enjoy something so much, it can’t possibly be work, right? And secondly, fiction writing wasn’t making me any money.

There was a time when I had to work my tail off, writing as much as I possibly could in a day, in order just to make ends meet. I have others helping fill in and doing their share of the expenses now, and I was told it was my turn.

My turn. Wow. My turn to do what I want and to follow MY dreams.

The problem with that is…

I’m not making any money at it.


I mean, fiction writing requires a lot of work upfront, and it could be a few months to a couple of years before you get any return off the work done. Even in the fastest cases, self publishing, it can still take months before the book is ready to print and then you have to market it and sell it to make any return on it.

I will not self publish. Don’t have an issue with those who choose to, but it’s not for me. I want both the advance, the free marketing and validation that comes from being published by a trade publisher. Yup, I still have some ego left in me.

Plus, I really want to spend MOST of my time writing, not marketing and selling books.

That said, going with a trade publisher, particularly the larger ones, can take years. First you have to perfect the manuscript, then print it, then mail it, then wait, wait, wait… then if they do buy it, it gets slated for publication, assigned an editor, goes through all the editing and set up stuff, and then and only then does it publish. Kensington, an independent large publisher that still accepts unsolicited manuscripts, says they publish 600 titles per year, and are backlogged over 3000 titles!

That’s like a minimum wait of 3-5 years possible for a newly signed author!

Even getting an agent and going that route can still mean several years.

So here I sit, having a good time, writing and enjoying myself, and not making a red cent with my fiction writing.

I feel like I should be contributing to the household more. I feel like I should continue writing articles and all that until I get that first really big fiction advance or contract. I feel like this is too fun to be a real job!

But it is a real job. If I ever want to be successful at it, I have to treat it like it’s a real job too. And those around me have to respect it as though it’s a real job–even when I’m not making money at it, at least, not enough to support myself solely with fiction writing – yet.

I will though. I went from nothing to replacing my income with nonfiction article writing, so I will tackle my fiction career the same way as I did my nonfiction writing career – treat it like the business it is.

And that’s the thing… so many people want to write, want to write a book, want to get one published, but they are so busy doing other things. How can you get a book published if you never write one?

Okay, so your first one might not sell. Write another. And another. Tweak and edit and constantly improve the ones you have written based on the feedback you get from the publishers and agents who reject you.

Remember… once you’re a famous writer, on a best sellers list or two, have proven your books can sell, then those manuscripts you couldn’t sell before might just get picked up later on down the line. Nothing is ever a waste.

So yeah, I realize just how lucky and blessed I am that I can throw myself full force into my fiction writing now. I know there are so many others who cannot do this. But even before I had this blessing in my life, I still wrote.

If you feel the dream, if you have the passion and drive and desire, you will write. If you’re not committed to the insanity of it all, you won’t succeed. If you want to write, you’ll find a way. Whether you have to get a flashlight and hide in the corner of the storage shed with a pad and pen or get up in the middle of the night while the rest of the house is asleep, a real writer will find a way. If you have to spend a year of your life exhausted because you’re working eight hours per day and then writing eight hours per day, if you’re a real writer, you will write. It won’t matter if you ever sell anything; a real writer will write, regardless.

That’s what I used to do… write in the middle of the night, at lunchtime, in between the kids napping, whenever I could.

Now, I have the time to write like I’ve always dreamed, and I find myself feeling guilty for sitting around having such a good time doing what I love.

There’s just no pleasing me, huh?

And now, I have the hiccups, so I’d better go get rid of those. I hear they say sex cures hiccups.


And then, back to writing!

How’s everyone doing on NaNo? Don’t forget to donate if you’ve got it to give! (see the top right corner donations for the Office of Letters and Light.)

Love and stuff,