Susanne Dunlap

Response to Nathan Bransford’s Blog About Writer Burnout

In Uncategorized on September 16, 2010 at 8:20 am

I tried to post this comment on a literary agent’s blog, but the Google engine said it was too long, so I thought I may as well put it here:

I’m not sure burned out by writing is something that happens to me, but definitely burned out by life. I left my day job four months ago so I could concentrate on writing, fulfilling a two-book YA contract with Bloomsbury Children’s, and suddenly discovered the amazing thing that actually having time outside of when you tap the words out on the page makes a huge difference to writing. I had time to think through what my characters might do, why they were acting in certain ways, instead of having to put that all on the page first then figure it out.

But I soon discovered I’ll be in the poorhouse in no time if I rely on book-writing-related income (even freelance editing hasn’t paid me very well, probably my own fault), and have started working with a startup company. I love what we’re doing, but I feel myself slipping into that “Gotta write! No time!” frame of mind again.

I think it’s not just sad, but tragic, that writers who have already been through the publication process and proven themselves by being given repeat contracts from publishers mostly can’t earn a living—at least not one that will support someone in Brooklyn. I don’t blame the publishers or the agents. It’s a tough economy. I don’t blame readers either! Who can afford to pay even more than we do now for a book in any form?

I just believe it’s part of a general devaluing of literature and the arts in our culture. The “Writer” is so often more a pathetic figure, someone who is chasing a dream rather than trying to illuminate something about our culture. And published authors who haven’t made the NYT bestseller list despite reasonable success? Failures.

It’s hard to keep going sometimes, yes.

But then, when I get the time to immerse myself completely in my manuscript and find that place where words just seem to float to the surface, I count myself among the most fortunate creatures in the universe.

Here’s the link to Nathan Bransford’s original post.

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