Should Writers Complain Publicly About Hardships?

Have you ever felt like giving up on publication because it’s just too hard? I have.

Yes, it’s hard before publication. And everyone accepts the grumbling about how difficult it is to write a query or synopsis. Everyone joins in moaning about the hardships of getting an agent (including me, see this post: Is the Query System Dying?). And we commiserate over a hundred and one other problems in our writing journeys.

Pre-publication complaints are common and widely accepted. That’s one of the blessings of being part of a writing community—we’re there to share each other’s burdens.

But . . . what about after publication? There are still hardships. Sometimes really tough ones. And yet I’ve found that it’s much more difficult to complain—at least publicly.

While I try to stay fairly positive on social networking sites and keep my negative comments to a minimum, there have been times when I’ve commented about something stressful or difficult. Of course most people are outwardly supportive. But I’ve also gotten responses that could be summed up like this: I’d love to be where you’re at, problems and all. So count yourself lucky and stop complaining.

I can’t help thinking if a few people hear my grumbling and feel that way, then perhaps many others do too. Maybe you’ve felt that way. Maybe you’ve wished you could say, “Come on lady, stop the griping and just be happy you’re published.”

In some ways, I liken the situation to a childless woman who longs for a baby. She’s had a difficult time conceiving, perhaps much more than she anticipated. When she’s with her friends who have babies, she hears them complain about how their newborns keep them up at night, how tired they are, and how they can’t lose their weight. Privately she wishes she could tell them to shut-up because she’d do anything to have their problems.

But the fact is, those moms with their babies are having a hard time too. Their problems are just as legitimate. Don’t they deserve the chance to vent once in a while?

So what’s a published author to do? Should they talk publicly about their problems? Or should they keep their frustrations to themselves? Do we have a double standard when we allow—even normalize—the pre-publication complaints but then disapprove of it post-publication?

Should everyone just stop complaining at the risk of offending someone else? Or are there positive ways that we can handle sharing our hardships? Here are just a few of my ideas:

1. Share our difficulties but look for ways to encourage others through our experiences. One of the things people tell me they like about my blog is that I’ve been transparent about the publication process. I’ve tried to share both the good and the bad so that writers everywhere can have a realistic picture of the journey and hopefully find encouragement and insights for themselves. In other words, we can use what we’re learning from our hardships to help others.

2. Make sure we’re positive and willing to empathize with others as much (or more) than we complain about our own circumstances. Every once in a while we need to stop and evaluate how we’re coming across. If our tweets and posts are mostly negative, then perhaps we need to look at ways we can change the tone.

3. Feel the freedom to speak up and be honest about our problems, but also know when to be silent. Social media allows us to put up facades, type smiley faces and use exclamation points, even on those horrible days when we’re wearing a permanent frown. I’m not advocating lying about our bad days and always having a Pollyanna attitude. But sometimes it’s okay to be professionally silent.

4. Share a little with many; share a lot with a few. In other words we should be wise in what we choose to share on our blogs and with the public. I share openly and honestly on my blog, but I don’t divulge everything. I only dump it all on a few closest friends.

Be honest, have you ever heard a published author complain and wished they’d stop? Do you think all writers, no matter where they’re at in their journeys, should be allowed to share openly? Or do you think there’s too much complaining in general?


  1. Here's a thought I've had recently:

    I think, because published authors (and even agented authors) feel this unspoken pressure not to share their hardships (exactly because of the reasons you stated in your post), I think it might feed the false assumption that life really is perfect once you're agented or contracted. And then, when the writer gets an agent or a contract, and life isn't as peachy and blissful as they thought, they're left in a bad spot, second-guessing if they have the right agent or the right publisher, because this wasn't how it was supposed to be. Life wasn't supposed to be hard and worrisome anymore.

    Great discussion topic Jody! I'm excited to come back and read what others have to say.

  2. I have heard published authors complain, but I've never wished they stopped. No matter what someone's hardship, doesn't mean they feel the stress any less than anyone else, just because they are published. Comparing your life to others' lives is not going to lessen the amount of suffering you feel. That is a given. I think people should lighten up and just offer their support. Forget that they're 'published' and just see the hardship for what it is. A hardship. Any person suffering a hardship needs a shoulder to cry on. I don't care what the reason is. They are feeling bad. Let's try and help them through it.

  3. I think each person is hyper-sensitive to his/her deep desire. I nodded when I read your childless woman analogy. Being single, I get very annoyed when I hear or read the complaints married women have about their husbands...because that's the one thing I pray for so often. BUT - even in that, I think those women have a right to vent in their own space (blog, home, small group, wherever they are). And the same would go for writers. Excessive complaining should be cut down, but the right to vent occasionally and appropriately, even at the risk of offending others? It should be allowed.

  4. I've thought about this a lot when blogging about looming deadlines or substantial edits. I hope readers also see how grateful I am to have those things. Your tips will definitely be useful as I deal with this in the future.

  5. Jody, Although I've had this problem, and faced it by the "share a little with all, share a lot with a chosen few" approach, I have a different problem much of the time. I see posts by writers on social networks that tell how great their day was, how they and their spouse just went out for a lovely evening, how nice their vacation was, and all the while we're scurrying to help out with sick grandkids, meeting the obligations of everyday life, and wondering why retirement hasn't brought a life of ease and relaxation.
    Oh, well. We're still blessed. Better quit before I'm guilty of sharing too much. Thanks for an insightful post.

  6. You're a born teacher. :-)
    I don't think I've ever begrudged a pubbed author their complaint. Like you said, their hardships are just as legitimate. Good analogy about the baby. Another thing I see is when poorer people get upset with people who have more money. Just like having money doesn't solve all your problems, neither does being pubbed.
    Good post!

  7. I appreciate the insightful thoughts this morning! Thanks, everyone!

    And Richard, I do think that's an opposite danger of social media--being too bright and cheerful, so that we come across as perfect. It's easy to put on a happy facade and share only the highlights of our days, instead of being realistic with the struggles too. But, I guess that brings up the question I've posed, do people WANT to hear the problems--especially of published authors?

    1. Jody, I notice that this conversation took place in 2011. At the time, I'd had 3 novels published and was learning (the hard way) about the "secret" problems published authors have. Now I confine my complaints primarily to private loops for authors, because I've learned that the average reader feels the way about us that I do about professional baseball players. But I still get tired of reading the bright, happy posts of many of my fellow authors. Thanks for the conversation

  8. You stirred me on this one.

    I tend to do #3 & #4 big time.

    Deep down I believe complaining is wasting time. Don't get me wrong, I was just talking to someone yesterday how it might seem like I come across all jolly all the time online. I'm not. I have down days. I get frustrated with the industry, but I don't want to lose precious time and I don't believe the best place for my complaining words is through social networking avenues.

    Here's where prayer and trusted loved ones come in.

    I like honesty. I think it's perfectly fine to admit there are struggles in all stages of publication. That's only natural. I'd say there is a major difference between an honest post with intentions to actively try to work through something and then there are posts (tweets) where someone is complaining just to complain.

    ~ Wendy

  9. Being human, we never can understand what another person is going through totally. I've learned through three years of unemployment (not whining here lol) that I can't judge someone else and their hardships. If a published author needs to share about their problems, it's okay with me. I need to realize what happens to them hurts as much as something does to me.
    Great post again!

  10. I've always been one who thinks problems are relative. A bad day for one person could be a speeding ticket, while trouble affording basic groceries is a bad day for another.

    I also think chronic complaining does no one any good - not the person complaing or the people who have to hear it. But everyone deserves to vent every once in a while. And I think if unpublished or unagented writers (me!) think life is going to be magically brilliant after obtaining an agent or seeing their book in print, well, then, they're dreaming a little too big. I have no problem hearing that problems don't go away after receiving contracts. That's just reality, and I appreciate the authors who will share that reality, or I might end up in my own dream bubble.

  11. lately, quite a few published authors or agented writers have shared their complaints. And for me, it totally depends on how it's done. If there are traces of bitterness, I'm totally turned off and most likely will not be a fan. But, if that person has turned the corner and are sharing so others can learn and see what it's like on the other side - then I don't mind. It all depends on how it's done. But yes, It is a little hard for pre agented writers to hear the complaints.

  12. I think most of us err on the side of complaining too much--writers and others. It's in our nature. I don't believe that complaining is a virtue, but I DO think it's important to share our burdens, and seek support and encouragement when we need it.

    That said, I like your number 4 suggestion best. Share what is honest, helpful, and informative with many, but save the heart-to-hearts for those closest to you, who truly love you and are eager to support and encourage.

    ~ Betsy

  13. I personally love to hear both sides of the story. I wish that more authors and people in general were honest with their journey's through life.

    I'm not happy that it takes authors a long time and many novels to get published. Actually that fact scares the hell out of me because I'm not there yet, and I don't want to suffer long and hard for this. I'm willing to if that is what it takes, but I'm going to wish it upon myself.

    That being said. I appreciate someone who can put their story out there and give me a realistic view of the publishing business. I'm going to be honest before I got into this business I thought that the road to publication was this #1 write a book #2 find an agent who loves it right away #3 get published #4 make loads of money. I now know thanks to all the authors who are awesome and honest that those are the steps but there are tons tons tons more in between (both good and not so good). That scares me but it also lets me know that it is to be expected and if I get 10 rejections or don't get any requests till my 10 novel it is ok. Sucks but ok. It is normal.

    I'm not saying that it won't hurt or that I am settling but I know that I should keep on writing if this happens. It is ok. If I keep learning, it will work out.

    I can see why you are hesitant to post negatives about the publishing business, and I think that you have done a wonderful job of being professional and realistic about both your positives and negatives that you have written.

    The way I see it is no one ever loves their job 100% of the time. There are days when people call out sick because they just don't want to go in. There is that annoying coworker that drives you crazy. The commute sucks. There is something about it. Even if you love your job 99% of the time, there is still that 1% were you aren't happy and that is ok.

    I love to write but there are times when I can't or don't want to and I post about it. I think that it is ok because at some time or another, everyone dislikes their job for some reason or another.

    I'm sure being published is 1000x harder than not. There are many more pressures that I can think of that are put on you from other people and from yourself. When you are unpublished, you want to be published more than anything. I can see how when it happens, things change. There are new rules, new standards, new pressures, new challenges, new avenues to venture down, new deadlines, new book tours to do (both online and off), new interviews to keep up with, new emails.... you get the point. It's just a different aspect of the job.

    Wow that was a long post but I had to get all of that out.

  14. I do think published writers need to paint a realistic picture for unpublished ones. Personally, I am so grateful to have a friend who has shared her hardships--even when they tweaked a bit of jealousy in me--because I have much more realistic expectations of what it means to be published. And I also learned that that twinge of jealousy was MY problem to be dealt with--my trust in God to do what was right for my life and writing in His time.

  15. I think it all comes down to balance. If you're complaining, well that's a problem. No one likes a whiner.
    But, if you're sharing your frustration with other writers with the idea of offering some encouraging advice on how to get through it, that's another kettle of fish entirely. That's why the "I'm trying to get published," stories are so much more popular than the "being published is hard," stories. Most of your readers have tons of experience with the first and no clue about the second, so it's hard to be constructive by relating that kind of hardship.

  16. I think we are all entitled to our feelings, whatever they may be. If an author consistently complains about things, folks probably won't stick around for very long. But if an author is usually positive and once in awhile shares their angst, that's very different. I think those who have issues with someone sharing their real feelings, it's really their problem, not the author who is being honest.

  17. I think you've given us a very balanced approach. Publishing and continuing to publish is a journey and all journeys have pitfalls; it would be unrealistic to think otherwise. But in sharing your difficulties and frustrations with us, we can learn from your experience and that is wonderfully helpful (not that we want you to have this issues, but you know what I mean).

  18. I also think there's a difference between complaining or simply sharing a down time in life. Complaining is what my daughter does now that I'm weaning her off a bottle onto a sippy and she hurdles the sippy through the air and tempts my wrath. (motherly wrath - LOVING wrath) :)
    Sharing a trial is taking a moment to be Moses and needing your Joshua to hold up your arms for a bit 'cause you're just plain exhausted.
    I like being Joshua - 'cause sometimes, simply put, I'm Moses.

  19. Go, bury thy sorrow,
    The world hath its share;
    Go, bury it deeply,
    Go, hide it with care.
    Go, bury thy sorrow,
    Let others be blest;
    Go, give them the sunshine,
    And tell God the rest.

  20. I don’t think sharing a tough time or day on social media is a mistake, but how it’s presented makes the difference. I want to walk away from reading a blog that has left me on an encouraging or uplifting note. Even if you’re venting you can still write in a way that leaves the reader informed, reality checked, and inspired. That’s why I enjoy your blogs so much, Jody. I never leave thinking I want to give up or it isn’t worth it, but I’m not misled either.

  21. I love Advice #4. I think it's all too easily forgotten in the age of twitter and the facebook wall. Showing a little discretion in blog posts goes a long way toward maintaining a professional social media presence.

  22. I think it's a valid point you make. I've found myself thinking that it would be so much easier to suffer the slings and arrows of the industry if I just had that "validation."

    But someone close to me who is published and successful told me that actually it only gets tougher, not easier after publication. And that's why there's a weeding out process, because if you can't handle the difficulties BEFORE being published, there's no way you'll be able to deal with the stress and rejection AFTER your book comes out.

    And now that I'm doing ePublishing I am getting a taste of that fact.

    An E-Publisher's Manifesto

  23. Jody- Thanks for the honest post. I always appreciate honesty and actually love authors who share their experiences in the publishing world—positive or not so positive. I find it valuable because if I ever get there and things aren't so rosy, it won't be a shock. I'll know it is part of the business.

  24. I'll just add this to the wealth of insight in the comments above:

    I think it's more about how you share than what you share.

    Are you taking responsibility for your actions, thoughts, and feelings when you comment on an aspect of the publication process that has been difficult or frustrating for you? No matter where we are in the journey, we're all going to hit road blocks. I love the childless mother analogy!!
    Thanks Jody!!

  25. I think it is normal for published authors to complain. I personally don't mind them complaining because it gives me a realistic look at what the life of a published author is like. I would rather want to know about the bad stuff than having them not tell me. What if one day I am a published author and I find out that it is not as rosy as other authors have said.

    I complain a lot on my blog and I wish I didn't. But thankfully my blog is called daily drama of an aspiring writer, so my readers will understand that I can't be happy and bubbly all the time. Life is filled with unexpected landmines and sometimes very bad blog posts.

  26. A wise post, Jody. I think that people complain, regardless of where they are in life. LOL

    But I appreciate you keeping it real, sharing the good, the bad, and the ugly (to a minimum, of course!)You are helping so many writers by allowing us to see not only the feel-good moments, but the tough ones, too.

    I SO agree with #3. There is a time for everything, and knowing when to keep our mouths shut is just as important as knowing when someone needs a kind word, or when to share the truth, no holds barred.

  27. Excellent post, Jody. Excellent comments, too. I wrote a post for next week about a few things to avoid shouting out to our social networks. I'm a big believer in filtering. Not every Twitter follower or blog reader needs to know every feeling we have or every publishing step we take.

    I'm just with you on every point in this post.

  28. Here's what I've learned: sharing your hardships (and this can be done in a non-whiny/complaining fashion) is a WONDERFUL way to encourage others. I can't count how many times people have thanked me for being real.

    On the other hand, the people who are jealous of you and your success? Will NEVER be happy no matter what you write.

    So write for the people who genuinely like you and want to learn from you.

    p.s. I liked the "bonnet book" discussion on Rachelle's blog yesterday.

  29. Jody, please keep on being real. We need to know the reality of the writing life, then we won't feel surprised or guilty if we find ourselves complaining along the way.
    You are a blessing.

  30. I'm back to read the comments.

    Here's another thought:

    I think, when a person is pre-agented, and all their focus is on getting an agent, it's hard to understand or take seriously a post from an agented author venting or struggling with something. I think eyes start to roll a little and the thought, "Well, I'd trade places in a minute!" pops into mind. I know that was the case with me! Same goes with the pre-contracted author reading struggles of the contracted author. It's just plain hard to wrap your mind around or take seriously another's struggles when you're trying to hard to hop the fence and be where they are.


    After you get an agent (or a contract) and you realize it's not all sunshine and roses, and you start hyperventilating a little (wondering what's wrong with you), THAT's when you remember those old blog posts (the ones you had a hard time relating to before) and THAT's when you can go back and read them and find encouragement.

    If that makes any sense. :)

  31. You know what? I keep writing and then erasing my words in this comment box, because there is no easy answer. I think we should focus on blessings and go out of our way to bless other people. Being honest can be a blessing to others. Being straight-up might save a world of pain for somebody else. And I think we should always thank God for the blessings we've received.

  32. I don't think it matters where in the process you are. I think what matters more is the tone of what you're saying, the reasons you're saying it ("whoa is me" is very different than "sheesh, this is FRUSTRATING, don't you think?), and the relationship you've built with the audience that's reading it.

    Every blogger and every reader probably has a different balance. To me, it really is about the tone and intent of the whine/complaint/screed/whatever. To be honest, I feel the same way about celebrating successes - tone matters there, too.

  33. This reminds me of an exchange I had on Twitter last fall.

    I tweeted: "Pray for us. We have to fire a dear friend. This is hard."

    Someone tweeted back. "Oh yeah? Well, my family is fleeing for their lives from the Indonesian volcano!"

    The grass is always greener. You don't know what you've got until it's gone. Add more cliches here.

    Good post, Jody!

  34. Those are some great tips not only in terms of what to share publicly as an author but also in general. I wrestly with this someimes in terms of how much of my personal feelings I should reveal to non-believers. I don't want to seem negative or like I don't have joy but at the same time I want to be my authentic self. I particularly like what you said about sharing a little with many and a lot with few. Not EVERYONE needs to know EVERYTHING. That's what dear friends are for.

  35. The old saying, "Smile, and the whole world smiles with you; cry, and you cry alone" contains a nugget of truth. No one enjoys the negative vibes of a chronic complainer. But then again, neither do I enjoy the annual Christmas newsletters that share only the year's successes: the honours graduates, promotions and salary bonuses, fab cruises, and new RVs. The extremes don't reflect life's reality.

    If we use our blogs as verbal soapboxes to complain, vent, rant and rave, or to boast about our achievements, we risk having our readers tune out, and we also do them a disservice because we misrepresent the journey.

    What you share here is the reality of a writer's life, a balance of the good and the bad, and you do it well, without boasting OR whining. I appreciate seeing both sides of the journey as you've experienced it because it helps me prepare for what I might encounter. You are a blessing to me, Jody!

  36. Honesty is important. Unpublished writers should know what they're signing up for - not just the joys but the time commitments and pressures. I think there's still this romantic notion floating around that you sign the contract and then wait for the book to land in your lap followed by a lovely snowfall of reader mail. Some of my close writer friends think that way - and some have become less interested in publication seeing what I'm dealing with. But I'm careful to be honest in the form of sharing - never complaining.

    Honesty should be tempered by consideration, gratitude, and humility - and seasoned with humor whenever possible. Any time I'm tempted to grumble, I think of who will read my post - my editor and agent, my pastor, my mom, my unpublished friends, and my readers.

  37. I might be weird, but I appreciate knowing that the struggles don't end. It puts what I'm going through into perspective to know that there will still be difficulties, no matter how far I make it up the road.

    Thanks for your honest approach.

  38. I think writers in all stages of publication or non-publication have a right to vent, and I don't begrudge them. There's still a little envy floating around. I'm jealous of those picked up by large presses with huge distribution (I'm w. a micropress). And I've heard people chide me for complaining since I'm being published at all.

    In the end though, there are things about writing which are frequent throughout and relatable to all. Writer's block, timetables, poor response, EDITS. They suck no matter who or where you are, so I think those are fair game.

    I have been reminded a few times (very politley) that I need to count my blessings, and it's a nice change of perspective for me. My ego needs that redress sometimes. I'm also blessed to be surrounded by a lot of writers who will buck me up and commiserate with me.

  39. I love this idea - and I was that mother you mentioned. That exact scenario was the one that came to mind, so you've done a great job of analogizing (if that's even a word).

    I don't have any problem with published authors sharing stresses, problems, disappointments - for the very reason Katie raised: it's good to know the truth.

    I do have a problem with published authors who talk about publishers / editors / other writers like they're a stone in their shoe. Not because they can't feel that way, but because it's unprofessional and self-pitying. (I've never heard you speak that way on here, so this is definitely NOT about you).

    In all seriousness, I think it's a human nature thing. It's jealousy. Don't let it stop you being 'real'. Authenticity is hard to come by these days and I, for one, really appreciate yours.

  40. I love this idea - and I was that mother you mentioned. That exact scenario was the one that came to mind, so you've done a great job of analogizing (if that's even a word).

    I don't have any problem with published authors sharing stresses, problems, disappointments - for the very reason Katie raised: it's good to know the truth.

    I do have a problem with published authors who talk about publishers / editors / other writers like they're a stone in their shoe. Not because they can't feel that way, but because it's unprofessional and self-pitying. (I've never heard you speak that way on here, so this is definitely NOT about you).

    In all seriousness, I think it's a human nature thing. It's jealousy. Don't let it stop you being 'real'. Authenticity is hard to come by these days and I, for one, really appreciate yours.

  41. Wow, lady.

    This is why we desperately need other writers to share with, isn't it?

    It's taken me some time to consider what to share/not to share blog-wise about my recent publishing experiences. I hope what I've presented is honest, polite, and ultimately hopeful.

  42. I agree with Katie. It's better to know what's waiting for us if we make it that far and that it isn't all perfect bliss. :-)

    Post-publication is still part of the writing journey, and therefore difficult. Just because an author jumps the first hurdle doesn't mean she's rounded the track. We need to be willing to share AND SUPPORT all parts of the journey.

  43. In a strange way, I feel that complaining is accepted. Nobody can stop anybody from complaining because in my books that immediately takes away their right to complain. I liked the image that you used of the childless woman, that brought it home very clear.
    The fact is, whether it's right or not - it's human nature to complain. People complain about their work, while other stand on the sideline, searching for work. It's the same with writers.

    I do think that people complain too easily, (myself included naturally) and have stopped looking at the proverbial silver lining. It's too easy to complain so we tend to do so more often than say: Gee, I had this easy...
    People don't believe in easy any more either.

    Being part of a community means supporting all branches of it. Those at the bottom and those making their way to the top. We have to understand each other, otherwise, how can we call ourselves a community? :)

    Nice post!


  44. I know from other published writers, that even once agented, there are many bumps along the way. The most frequent seems to be dropped by the publisher after two books.

    Anyway, it'd be interesting to hear about these tribulations after publication, so the rest of us can be prepared for what might happen.

  45. I can understand why unpublished writers would be frustrated, but by the same logic, everyone who has a job should stop complaining because there are so many unemployed people who'd love to have their job.

    I don't mind authors sharing their frustrations. As an unpubbed writer, I want a realistic idea of what I'm getting into - not a dream vision. But, as a reader, if someone complains a lot, they start to sound bitter and negative, and I'll be less likely to buy their book.

  46. I can understand why unpublished writers would be frustrated, but by the same logic, everyone who has a job should stop complaining because there are so many unemployed people who'd love to have their job.

    I don't mind authors sharing their frustrations. As an unpubbed writer, I want a realistic idea of what I'm getting into - not a dream vision. But, as a reader, if someone complains a lot, they start to sound bitter and negative, and I'll be less likely to buy their book.

  47. It can go both ways. Natalie Whipple put up a post awhile ago about unpublished writers telling published writers, "Well, AT LEAST you've got an agent, etc." That can get annoying, too, because just because you're published doesn't mean it's all sunshine and rainbows. Hardships continue, and past successes don't make up for current hardships.

    I think this depends on each author individually how they deal with talking about their hardships. Whining isn't appropriate in any circumstance, published or unpublished, in my opinion. However, talking about what we got through is helpful to everyone. Just do it in a positive light. :)

    Really great post, Jody!

  48. Knowledge is power. I want to know the pitfalls as well as the successes. As long as there is balance and not chronic, habitual complaining, I am grateful of the published authors who paint a realistic picture. Networking with other pubbed authors allows for a more understanding audience, of course, but those of us who seriously aspire for publication should keep our mouths shut and our ears open. It's difficult to learn from those who share their experiences when all you hear is the roar of your own voice.

  49. There's a difference between complaining and sharing your reality. Complainers whine and vent, with no eye to solution or change. When you share, you open yourself up to dialogue and you posit possible solutions of your own. You, my dear, are solidly in the latter group.

    Continue to share from your experience. I believe so many of us are learning from your experiences. Shrug off the "haters". People who tell you to stop complaining because they wish they were where you are, are people who are likely to get there...and complain.

  50. I think there will always be difficult times, no matter where we are in life. No situation is ever going to be perfect, even if it is everything we want it to be.

    I think there is a balance between honestly expressing our feelings and unprofessionally complaining about them. The trick is to find that balance.

  51. The only 'problem' I have with complaining is that it's negative. That doesn't mean it needs to be removed - it just means it needs to be handled gently and mixed with a good dose of optimism (not necessarily in the same post).

    As for published authors complaining...goodness, *everyone* has something going wrong! Even Bill Gates does, I'm sure! So it never gets me down. If anything, it even strengthens my resolve to be a published author, because I have to ask myself, "Do I really want this?" And I always answer, "Yes."

  52. Yes, I've heard it before and it wasn't you (I promise). Great analogy between the barren woman and her friends. I had an English teacher once say, "a problems a problem no matter how big." I loved how that validated concerns we might have that others would scoff at. BTW, I'm great at listening to rants. Anytime.

  53. I remember a radio announcer (Rex Murphy, CBC) saying that if you were born in a first world nation, you've already won the most important lottery there is.

    Most of us are fortunate enough to only have "first world" problems to deal with, like getting fifty rejection letters rather than getting cholera.

    It isn't that we have no right to ever complain--it's that we should remember to be thankful more often.

  54. Because you have been so transparent about the publication process, I've appreciated your journey, and the journey of other writers, so much more. I value this transparency because it forewarns me of what is to come. There's plenty of material on the standard struggles of writers but so little on what happens once someone gets published. Your thoughtful list/suggestions on the matter is great too.
    Thank you.

  55. Here's my opinion on it:

    Very few people like to hear other people complain. It gets old very quickly. So while people like "real" and "transparent" they don't usually like "complaining" or "whiny."

    To temper this I'd say:
    1. Not every problem has to be aired (even to your close friends.) No, I'm not saying swallow everything and keep it down, but sometimes just forgiving (if you've been wronged) and moving on can be a better option than venting.
    2. Have a few close people when you do need to vent. Not everything has to be public. (Of course your post covered this one well already.)
    3. Sometimes wait until it's over. I'm betting some of your transparent posts came off as transparent instead of complaining because you waited until something good had come from it, until it was over and you'd learned from it or moved on, or something to that effect. I think very few (if any) good things come from us reacting in anger instead of handling the situation more calmly.
    And 4. Use discretion on when, how and how much you do post negative things publicly.

  56. I like hearing the ups and downs of a writer's life. It helps me know that everyone goes through difficult times and that I am normal! ;)

  57. I was overwhelmed trying to read all the comments, so I apologize if I'm just repeating someone else here, but everything in life is relative. I've always known this, but in the past few days, I've come to realize just how true it is..

    I have a contract waiting to be signed, so technically, with a simple signature and a stamp, I could say I'm a published author ... my book's just not out yet.

    The thing is, there are also other possibilities. And I have to make this huge decision and not make too many people wait or feel I'm not serious, etc...
    I'm afraid of coming across as a *problem author* before everything begins.
    But then again, I know it's completely normal to take at least a week and to contact others with your full ms and make sure you're making the right decision.
    Plus, all these people made me wait for months ... they can wait weeks, right? ;) lol

    My point here is, this is a position I've dreamt about many times, thinking about how great it would be when, really, it's just as stressful as querying and waiting for responses ... it's just a different position. But no less nerve-wracking.

    So, I think published authors do have the right to complain. Your blog is about your journey ... why should you have to hold things in? Besides, people need to see all sides of this business. No one wants to read blog after blog about querying/submitting and not learn anything about what it's like after that process works and an author becomes published.

    I guess the key is to make sure you show recognition of your position and that you appreciate it, even though you may have problems, so as not to hurt the feelings of those who are still struggling.

  58. This is comment #57, so you probably won't even see this, but here's my 2 cents anyway....funny I should read this today after receiving not one but TWO rejections! Sometimes I wonder if I'm just going to be a blogger all my life when I'd really love to add the phrase "published author" behind my name. Just part of the process, I suppose.
    Thanks for your wonderful post :)

  59. There are people with whom I'm willing to share anything with about writing. Then there are things I want to keep between close friends. This repeats Richard Mabry's point from above, but it is true.

  60. I think it's important to see both sides of the coin. In one sense the unpubbed writer longs, and the pubbed writer langishes. Both are realities. This is a journey that never stops being an uphill climb, with everything in this life I should expect some trials, and be grateful God always provides a soft place to fall.

    Thank you for your transparency Jody:)

  61. Hey Debbie! Just wanted you to know that even if you leave comment number 1001, I still read each and every one! I love the discussion on this blog, and even if I can't jump into the comments as much as I'd like, I really do read each of them! :-)

  62. I appreciate authors who give a balanced picture of life post contract but do so without falling prey to complaining. Those, like you, Jody, who share their challenges and struggles in an effort to educate and enlighten are performing a service for those who have yet to sell a book.

    If published authors painted a Pollyannic view of their lives, they could be seen as misleading others. I think you're an excellent example of a blogger who presents a well rounded view of life as a published author on your blog and social networking sites.

  63. Your blog has been a huge help to me as you have trailblazed the way through debut authorship. As I've said before, it has been very comforting to me as I have gone through a few of the same things six months later. I can remind myself: "Hey, this is normal. Jody felt the same way."

  64. I like when people talk about their hardships as long as it's in a balanced way, and not just lots of self-pity: they recognize how well they're doing overall, but also admit when they're having a hard time.

    Personally, I find it encouraging that other people struggle with writing and publishing as well, and it makes me more thankful for where I am right now because at every step there's positive as well as negative aspects.

    Great blog!

  65. As a writer I reserve the right to describe whatever I am going through and if I feel the need to vent I will. I feel other writers should too.

    As you state, you are sharing your experience so others can learn and be inspired so if someone doesn't want to hear that then she is not the intended audience.

    It's all about the audience. People can always go somewhere else and read about other things.

  66. Hi Jody -

    There's a difference between sharing the process with all its ups and downs and whining. Whether we're talking about writing or difficult personal situations, our attitude comes through.

    You're an inspiration to me. Thank you for sharing the good, the bad, and the "you've got to be kidding" moments of a published author.

    Susan :)

  67. Hello Jody! Although I am commenting for the first time, I've been a long time reader and I am amazed at the quantity of discussions and subjects that have been approached in your blog. This is a very good post as well.

    I think this can apply to every single blogger too and not only published authors. A personal blog does allow all liberty to vent, if we choose to do so - it is the writer's right to share what he or she wishes. However, the author has to be conscientious that such "venting" will be read by everyone who comes across their page and may set the mood for the blog and the authors themselves.

    You have compared the rantings of a published writer being read by unpublished authors to the problems of mothers being heard by childless/unfertile women. One can broaden that comparison and say that it is similar to someone who is complaining about how the food is not to their liking, or the television suddenly has a bad image, or how you have a flu and it is making you sneeze and cough all the time; there will always be someone who has little if anything to eat, no television and with a disease worse than a flu. The point is, no matter what complains you may have, there will always be someone who has it a lot worse, and someone who has it a lot better (one of the things that make us feel like venting has to do with this second group, I think).

    In conclusion, when one is complaining about something there will be those who emphatize and those which said complains are beyond their own situation (they wish they could have those complains!). So I agree with all your ideas and I'd like to add that readers become more empathetic towards ranting published authors when they are pontual, scarce complains, well-backed by good arguments and with an educational purpose. It should also end in a note of positivity or humour, if possible! :)

    Thank you for this post!


© All the articles in this blog are copyrighted and may not be used without prior written consent from the author. You may quote without permission if you give proper credit and links. Thank you!