Monday 4 July 2011

Being published sometimes makes me feel misunderstood.

I've had a couple of hurtful confrontations over the past couple of weeks and I feel hopelessly misunderstood. I walked away from them, after offering a logical and calm defense, feeling the sting of 'why now?' in my throat like bile. No one has ever spoken to me like this when I was an 'aspiring writer.' What's changed? Is it because I'm published? Have I turned into a different kind of person because of this? No, I haven't. So why am I treated differently? I don't want to be treated differently.

For some reason I feel like people think I am assuming some sort of superiority, or am just concerned about making friends to market my books. I'm not. I had been making friends online way before I ever signed that publishing contract. I'm not going to stop now.

I value the friendships I have made online. In fact, I have made some of the most wonderful and strongest friendships through this blog than I have in my entire life. And I would still be friends with these people regardless of whether they helped promote my books or not. The thing is, I am so excited to have my debut coming out this year that I want to share it. It is a dream come true. Why would I not want to celebrate that?

I'm doing everything possible to give my debut a decent kick-start in this crazy jungle of books without over-doing the promo and making people sick of hearing about it. There is a fine line and it's difficult to know where that is exactly. And I'm also trying to make it super easy on the the people participating in my tour. I don't expect them to remember dates. I don't expect them keep track of what they've signed up for, nor do I expect them write their own Amazon Chart Rush plug. I do all of that and I email them with all the necessary info. I have 90 people participating in my blog tour and I have to know, and keep track of, exactly what everyone has signed up for because there are five different things going on: Reviews, print ARCs and PDF ARCs to send and email out, simple release announcements, 44 interviews to answer and Amazon Chart Rush plugs. I am trying to make one of the biggest, most exciting events in my life run as smoothly as possible. Hence the rules and guidelines, and dates and deadlines and all that jazz. I'm just being organized. That is all.

On another, slightly humorous note, I'd like to make a few things clear:

  • I am not rich. In fact, this year I'm financially struggling the most I ever have.
  • I am not always happy. Life does still get in the way of that sometimes. This, however, does not make me any less thankful that I have my debut coming out. Sometimes I have to pinch myself to realize that it's actually happening.
  • I have opinions. I like to share them. I'm not out to step on anyone's toes by doing so. That's just me. I'm an honest person and I like to speak my mind. I have never, once, shared an opinion with the view of causing offense. I've always been outspoken and I don't plan on changing that. I don't want to have to censor myself. I do not want to be fake. I will NOT be fake.
  • I don't have a problem with swearing. I don't think that is a crime.
  • I don't like it when people make assumptions about me. It feels like being accused of a lie you never told and still being punished for it. It hurts. A lot. And I don't think I deserve to feel like that.

Have you ever felt misunderstood? Why? Were you able to fix it?


  1. It’s a fine line and I think you’re doing not bad. You talk about your books more than I do but then I bet you sell more than I have. I’m impressed that you’ve garnered so much attention - 90 people is no small number. I doubt there are many of us who’ve not had some kind of falling out online. Just as in the real world it happen. You do your best to make the peace and if all else fails you walk away. Focus on the positive. The good thing is that you have time. Your blog tour is a while off yet. It seems to me like you’re being quite professional about all of this without losing touch with who you really are. Is being published a big deal? Well, it’s a deal but thousands upon thousands of people have been published so let’s not make more of it than what it is. Did I tell you I’ve started work on a review of your poetry book? Not sure how long it’ll take me – I’m notoriously slow reviewing poetry for some reason – but expect some questions to come winging your way shortly.

  2. Sometimes I feel there is no profession more misunderstood than the business of publishing. But of course that's because I work in this business; so I am very sympathetic to what you are going through. And, while I hesitated to be one of the first to's not my fault your publisher wakes up before dawn and feels compelled to check out author blogs! I'm so glad I stopped at yours first, before doing my own blog posting!

    Jessica, I am twice your age and you know it's hard to stop me from giving advice.... But at different times in my life I've been on the receiving end of advice and here are four things that four different people told me, that I always seem to come back to: 1) this too shall pass; 2) pick 3 things that need to be done each day, write those down and do those three things; 3) "Do what makes you happy." and 4) "Be willing to be misunderstood."

    As you progress in your writing life, in life period, and as your connections and friendships widen into more people and deeper connections with some people, the likelihood of being misunderstood will, I suspect, increase. Explain yourself as you have done so well here, but also be comfortable and okay with a slight disconnect at times as those who we wish would "get" us...don't...and oftentimes that "don't" has nothing to do with us.

    People have misconceptions about what it means to have a book published. The only difference between a good writer who is published and a good writer who is not is that someone said yes instead of no. But you did the work of being a good writer, you did the work of seeking publication and all these steps along the way and now you are doing the work of launching your book and it is a lot of work and, like so many endeavors, there are no guarantees that the effort is going to result in comparable success. But people outside of this process do not see all this. And I think that is okay.

    When I watch an ice dancer, I do not see the hours of practice, the early morning wake-ups, the sore muscles, the expensive costumes, the things she said no to. I see only that it looks easy to be so graceful and beautiful. When I look at your blog followers and the wonderful comments and number of comments made, it looks easy to have these friendships, but I know it is takes a big time and heart commitment. And this says so much about you as a person and a writer and, yes, some folks (and they may be folks very close to you) will be jealous. But they cannot say they are jealous, or that talent looks like no work at all, or that if only this or that they would have what they perceive you they just get grumpy.

    Forgive them, let it all run like water off your back, and move on with grace and confidence. But you know all this...I am always so damn verbose in the early morning hours...and yes, that swear word was for you ;-)

    We are just doing what we love the best we can and also trying to figure out how all that works with earning a living and giving readers what they want and also this whole changing publishing scene. Trying to please everyone is perhaps one task we must leave off our list...

    You are beautiful, smart, talented, loving, caring, and young. "Today is the first day of the rest of your life..." yes, that's a saying from the 1970s, but still a good one!

  3. This sucks, because you should be at the top of the world at the moment! Don't let the bastards get you down! See, I don't have a problem with swearing either.

  4. Jessica, don't let someone's mean-spiritedness ruin your moment. Shrug it off as being their problem and concentrate on your book's debut. You've worked really hard to get to this point, and you should be really proud of yourself. Congrats!

  5. I'm so proud to be able to call you a friend, Jess. Every time I think about when you introduced yourself to me, and called me out, it makes me smile.

    There are always going to be people who don't get you, or who are jealous, or just full of hate. You just have to shake them off, focus on the good, and move on.

  6. Well, since you ask, I've often been misunderstood and my usual action is complete withdrawal. I just don't deal with people in person if I can help it. It is hurtful to be completely misunderstood. I hope you don't have to deal with this too often.

  7. Try to stand tall. Enjoy this moment. This is one of the best moments of your life and that shouldn't change because someone misunderstands what you're offering.

    You're not only a beautiful girl on the outside but on the inside as well. I know you don't have ill intentions and it's sad when people don't realize that.

    I have my own battles with being misunderstood. Like you, i've been successful. I'm not published yet but my blog took off like wild fire and it's a balancing act between positive & negative emails I get. I'm astonished how pushy and rudely honest some are. It used to bother me, now I tell them I blog what I want and right now it's blah, blah, blah. Or, no, right now is not a good time for interviews. I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings but at the same time they just crushed mine.

    You're fabulous. Don't ever change. Everyone who matters has your back ;)

  8. You're doing just great Jessica .
    I was slightly hurt yesterday after writing a poem about feeling more happy in myself about a family problem and knowing I have done my best for my family am now going to be a little bit selfish and think more of my needs.
    It was totally misunderstood, but I accepted the critique if that's what it was or just the persons' opinion. What this person didn't know my eldest son, has severed all ties with me and won't let me speak to my three grandchildren
    one who has a birthday today.
    I have never interfered in my kids lives and respect and love them but I don't expect to be told how to live my life.
    Carry on the way you're doing Jessica you are a very talented person and I applaud your work.


  9. Being misunderstood - it's a fact of life, isn't it? You'd think, as writers, we would be able to clearly communicate but communication is a two-way street. Everybody brings their own experiences to the conversation; experiences that colour their reaction to what you're trying to say. Chin up! Try not to let it get you down. There are a lot of people rooting for you. Best of luck with your debut. You have so much to be proud of!!!

  10. I can relate, Jessica, a bit, thought not with anything I've written. It was something I threw away that made my oldest daughter not speak to me for an entire year. She wouldn't/couldn't see it from my point of view. We're okay now, but at the time it hurt. I just had to be patient and move on. I'm sorry you're going through whatever this is right now. What you say is true for me, too: I've made genuine friends through blogging. Yes, my publisher said get a blog. This is a marketing tool, and there's nothing wrong with this!! We all do this. So keep your head up and keep writing. In difficult situations, I try to think: What can I learn from this? Maybe this will help you, too.

    Your poems are awesome. I'm looking forward to your novel. And I'm glad you're enjoying my memoir. So far all responses have been positive. If/when I get some negative ones, I think I'll be able to handle it with a you-can't-please-everyone-all-of-the-time. And, it's just a book. And, I've discovered there are people in the world who will pick at anything!

    Be yourself. Things will work out. Just keep writing, and enjoy the journey--and the real friends you've made/are making along the way!!
    Ann Best, Memoir Author

  11. The way you were treated sounds awful. I don't get here to comment very often but I think of you as one of the awesome people on the interwebs. You are a truly helpful, genuine people and the fact that you have a large following and so much support for your book shows that.
    If someone treats me badly I realize that it is more about them than me.
    Don't let people who are jealous ruin what should be a wonderful experience for you.

  12. First off, my sincerest apologies about whatever's going on. I don't know what could have changed, either, and it's a shame to hear about it. If it counts, I think you're fantastic, and you're still the real person I "met" a year ago with real feelings and an imperfect life. I'm proud of your achievement, happy for your success, and am on pins and needles awaiting the ARC. You deserve to be happy. And, oh yeah, anyone who thinks you're now financially secure has no idea what this business is actually like!

    I often feel misunderstood in several realms of my life. Who doesn't? While I have a few choice examples, I don't wish to share them publicly, but I feel your pain. I hope you can get everything sorted soon.


  13. Congratulations on getting published. Perhaps some of what you are getting is from jealousy. Just remember that your goal was always to get published,and you have succeeded! I think if you step back periodically and do a "heart check" to see if you're crossing any lines you'll be fine. Again - congrats on your success!

  14. sometimes people just suck. Not you, though. Anyway, i am also pro-swearing. Though i keep it to an ulta-minimum on my blog

  15. Jessica, I had a feeling something was up when you sent the e-mail explaining the 10-question limit, or whatever the limit was. I'm sorry anyone had issue with that. Truthfully, I can't imagine why you would. Who wants to read an interview that goes on forever?

    I have noticed people changing once a book comes out. And there's probably no way to prevent it if a book is successful. I'm sure people come out of the woodwork and there are pressures from all sides.

    But I haven't noticed it from you.

    I also don't mind swearing. All the fecking time.

  16. It's too bad that you have to go through something like this when you should be enjoying the fruits of your labor. Some people always feel the need to bring others down when they've attained a measure of success. Seriously, I don't understand why they have to do it. Can't they be happy for a fellow writer, a fellow human being?

    There is nothing wrong with promoting your book. It's what you are SUPPOSED TO DO. How else are your readers going to know about it?

    And you're right--you don't want to be FAKE. You are the REAL you, and that's the best you can be. I would rather have a friend who has flaws and is genuine, than a fake one who works too hard to appear perfect.

    Hang in there, Jessica! Don't let haters get you down. You've worked hard for this, and it's time to enjoy the spotlight with your debut novel. Goodluck and keep your chin up! ;)


  17. I don't think there should be a line at all. You are a published author, I'd be proud as hell too! What kind of friend would not know that? Let me at 'em :)

    I am the Queen of misunderstood and I like causing the confusion. If swearing is not a crime, why do I keep getting f*cking tickets?

    Have a good one!
    Jules @ Trying To Get Over The Rainbow

  18. Promoting your own book is a tricky business. If you don't do it, the book will not be successful. But when you do it, some people are going to make judgments about you and possibly attribute self-serving motives to everything you do. And that hurts. Promoting the book is part of your job as author. You might not even like doing it, but it's part of what you have to do.

    I'm sorry you have had some hurtful interactions, but try not to let them spoil what should be an exciting time for you. You're doing your job in the best way you can.

  19. I like what Diane said above "You're doing your job in the best way you can." It's a job, a career you are building, and you must throw yourself into it or else what, just have writing and blogging as a nice little hobby? There are times when we step on people's toes. And there can be jealously as well. Just hang in there and do your job, let the results speak for themselves. I'm thrilled to be part of your blog tour!

  20. Jess! JEESSSSS! Hugs, hugs, hugs. Shame you're not here, or I'd take you out for a drink or five.

    Well, what can I say. People are strange, with their own motivations for doing what they do. Try not to let that get in the way of your own, very well deserved happiness. I try to remember that sometimes people behave in ways that has nothing to do with me, so I shouldn't let their own issues affect me! It's hard to do, I know.

  21. Oh Jessica. Petty people pop out of the woodwork kind of like termites. You are not one of them. And remember life is too short to be small. Those small people will discover too late (if at all) that they have missed out on what is truly important.

    As for being misunderstood, I was through most of high school. But now, when I visit with my aging classmates we laugh and have the best time together, is too short to be small!

    HUGE HUG! (And you find time to visit blogs and comment along with everything else you're doing. I bow to your superior ability and am honored that you *visit* me.)

  22. There are going to be people who don't like what's happening to you, or what you are doing. And, worse, there are people who won't like your writing. And the more exposure you get, the larger this group of people will get. But so will the group who loves what you do, and loves your writing. The bad comes with the good. No writer can change that. JK Rowling has a zillion dollars and almost as many fans. But she takes a lot of shit, too.

    And, for some of those people, it won't really matter what you do, or what response you make. For a lot of them, it won't really have anything to do with you at all. It's something inside them, that they're dealing with, that's pushing them in a certain direction. To me, you just rationally evaluate what they have to say (on the off chance they may actually be right), and act accordingly. If they're right, you can address it. And if they're just barking into the wind you let it go. There's nothing else for it. Chuck it out the open car window and watch it flutter away in the breeze. A few more miles on the road and you won't even remember it. Well, hopefully.

    Just my take.

  23. I for one am proud to be promoting your work. For me it proves I have good taste in books and friends. Your organisational skills help me keep my promise to you, and leaves my brain free for my own work.

    Do not allow the green-eyed few get you down. Move forward, Jess this is your year! xx

  24. Everyone's shared great advice. The more successful and the more public you become, it will seem like the fewer people who understand you. It's relative. There will be more people making assumptions because there will be more people who "know" you or feel like they do because they read your book and some blog posts. It's an area where we have to have that thick skin that most people don't warn you about. Wait until random strangers read your book and jump to all kinds of conclusions about you. :-)

    As for talking about your, if you don't do it, who will? If you're not enthusiastic about your own book, then why would anyone else be? Don't apologize for being passionate about your book or for talking about it. It's a huge part of your life. And telling others about it is part of your job.

  25. Oh, what have you to complain about? You're published! That makes you wealthy and delighted with the world, while me, I'm still stuck, and my writing sucks, and no one follows my blog and... can you tell this is MY PROBLEM and NOT YOURS? It's only your problem as long as you listen to it. But me, I'm stuck with me all day, and let me tell you, it's no fun at all.

    So yeah, what everyone else said so well. And hugs to you and Yvonne.

  26. Oh, Jessica, I'm so sorry people are misjudging you this way. From the first moment I read your blog, you instantly came across as sincere, dedicated, and incredibly hard working. I can't imagine why anyone would begrudge you success. You deserve this, and don't let the jerk-faces get you down. :)
    On that note, I'm so super excited for you getting published! It's fantastic. :)

  27. I'm sorry things have been rough--I am so sad that you've had some confrontations lately like this. I think if people tried a bit harder to see the other person's viewpoint & show some understanding before asserting their own thoughts & opinions, so much hurt could be avoided.

    So this is just a virtual hug comment for you! Keep doing what you're doing and hold your head high> :)

    Angela @ The Bookshelf Muse

  28. It gets better! You only get one first book, Jessica. Go for it.

  29. I second all of this-- time of your life. You are doing things the right way... I am watching your efforts wishing I had thought of/been organized enough for 1/2 of what you're doing for Max and Menna. You're already a rock star, and still approachable and friendly. Just keep that in mind always :)

  30. The same thing happened to me when I got published...then it happened again when I decided to publish my second book myself. A lot of 'aspiring' authors just dropped me like a hot rock, acting like I'd betrayed something or given up 'the dream' by self-publishing, even though my book sales are 20x what they were when I was with a small press.

    People will always have opinions about you. Sadly, there's nothing you can do to stop it, and even less so now that some people will see you as a public figure, and not as a person.

    The one thing I can say for sure is that the people who are my real friends haven't changed toward me a bit, except maybe they're even more proud of me and happy for me than before.

  31. I'm sorry you've had these bad experiences. Don't let them ruin the joy of your wonderful achievement. Life's too short to let jealousy get in the way of good times.

  32. Your publisher certainly has some mighty fine wise words. Janice, you ALWAYS blow me away with your wisdom.

    Jessica, thank you for writing this and being so honest. It's hard to put some of this negativity and frustration out there in the world because we know it will be misunderstood, but as Janice says, that's OK, and she is absolutely 100% correct. It's not our job to be understood 100% of the time from everybody. It just isn't. We're all human and complex and that is wonderful. It makes the world that much more brilliant and beautiful. I'm ready to embrace it. :)

  33. I know what you mean about the fine line. How do you promote without being pushy? How do you talk about yourself without sounding conceited? It's very very hard to find that balance, but for the record, I think you're doing just fine. Keep doing what you're doing. You've made a lot of really great friends who've said it all way better than I could - YOU ROCK. :)

  34. You poor girl, I know how you feel, I too was attacked as soon as I set foot on to the so called "AUTHORS WORLD", The first emails and comments I got on face book and Blog was criticism, from others. Which is why I changed my Blog and face book to a publishered writer. Then things settled, why??? Anyones guess.
    Since then I have enjoyed friendships as you discribe, and Ignore all other comments, as I Blogged once, I'm only human, and if they think it's easier to step on a seedling rather than cutting down a sapling or tree they are wrong. With each others support we are going to triumph, In a big way.
    I'm standing right beside you all the way Jessica, don't change or worry, just keep going :)
    Take care

  35. You poor girl, I know how you feel, I too was attacked as soon as I set foot on to the so called "AUTHORS WORLD", The first emails and comments I got on face book and Blog was criticism, from others. Which is why I changed my Blog and face book to a publishered writer. Then things settled, why??? Anyones guess.
    Since then I have enjoyed friendships as you discribe, and Ignore all other comments, as I Blogged once, I'm only human, and if they think it's easier to step on a seedling rather than cutting down a sapling or tree they are wrong. With each others support we are going to triumph, In a big way.
    I'm standing right beside you all the way Jessica, don't change or worry, just keep going :)
    Take care

  36. Hi Jess. Sorry I wasn't able to read this when you posted it. I'm sorry you are hurting. I hope you are feeling better now.

    I have been misunderstood more than a couple of times. Later on I have also learned I have been attacked on wall posts without me seeing the shout-outs myself. I tried to fix it. But some people would think what they want to think and won't listen to any explanation.

    Jess, cheer up, you have more friends than people who try to put you down. We all love you and accept you as you are! :) Hugs!

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  38. People who attack other people are generally insecure and often envious, Jessica. Some people can't stand to see others succeed and embarrass themselves by lashing out. As I've said before in these comments, you should feel sorry for them, not yourself.

  39. Seriously I think you are doing a fabulous job walking that line. I haven't felt overwhelmed at all. There are always going to be haters. Perhaps they are just having a rough time right now and you made an easy target that moment in their life. Sometimes it is not even about you but them. Hang in there. Enjoy this time! You have a huge accomplishment this year!


“I'm using my art to comment on what I see. You don't have to agree with it.” ~John Mellencamp

“Allowing an unimportant mistake to pass without comment is a wonderful social grace” ~Judith S. Marin

“I don't ever try to make a serious social comment.” ~Paul McCartney

“I'd make a comment at a meeting and nobody would even acknowledge me. Then some man would say the same thing and they'd all nod.” ~Charlotte Bunch

“Probably what my comment meant was that I don't care about the circumstances if I can tell the truth.” ~Sally Kirkland

“We're not going to pay attention to the silliness and the petty comments. And quite frankly, women have joined me in this effort, and so it's not about appearances. It's about effectiveness.” ~Katherine Harris