Dealing with Indifference as a Writer by Veronica Sicoe

Author Veronica Sicoe

Author Veronica Sicoe

Today's guest post is by science fiction author Veronica Sicoe who shares her story of struggling against indifference. No matter if you're an author or not, there are a lot a great points she makes that will help the next time you hit this wall. I hope you enjoy her post:

They say the opposite of love isn't hate but indifference. And nothing stings worse than not getting any emotional response from someone you care about, for yourself or something you passionately love, like your writing.

But we all face indifference in our lives as writers, on quite a few levels. Constantly. That's why it's all the more important that we learn to deal with it, expect it even, so that when we do get an emotional response, we feel that much more rewarded. And when we don't, we can keep going and creating fantastic experiences without feeling impoverished.

Other people's indifference can impact us very differently, depending on the source and the stage we're at in our development and careers. But I bet it never fails to register, and it never fades as a form of adversity that we have to overcome.

So in a way, I'm telling this to myself as much as I'm writing it here for you:

You are your biggest fan and your most dedicated supporter. Never expect others to care about your writing as much as you do, and never rely on others' support as you do on your own motivation.

You write for you.

If others embrace that, keep writing.

If they don't, keep writing.

Indifference from Family & Friends

If you've had a fairly normal family & upbringing, with supportive parents and siblings, and the occasional doting aunt or grandpa, then you might feel very let-down (to not say betrayed) when you finally reveal your true identity as a Writer – and get crickets in response.

Your mom, who cheered for your first stage performance, now only nods and shrugs, and goes about her day. Your dad, who wore the t-shirt and came to every game you had in junior high, now only asks if you're making money yet (if he remembers), but never about your progress or word count.

And that's absolutely normal. They have their own lives, and you have yours. They will be proud of you if you're successful, sure, but they'll be happy if you are happy. And we all know we look neurotic and insane when we're working on a project, and depressed and lost when we're not. So how can they be passionate about that?

I had very supportive (if skeptical) parents growing up, and they sure are impressed that I'm writing. But they're not my cheerleaders, and unless I bring it up, they never talk about my writing or ask where I stand. And that doesn't mean they don't love me. Of course not. All it means is they trust me to follow my passions and tend to my own interests without their supervision and cheering. They trust that I know what I'm doing, and will tell them if I need help. They trust that I can make myself happy doing what I love, and don't need someone to constantly back me up.

And I'm a lot more grateful for that, than I'd ever be if they would ask about my word count each day (*shudder*) or leave embarrassing reviews everywhere, and try to shove my books down their cleaning lady's, neighbor's, or mechanic's throat.

So if you're afraid your family has deserted you if they're not fans of your books, just remember: they love you, but that doesn't automatically mean they have to love your passions in equal measure.

Besides, they're most likely not your target audience, so who cares, right?

Indifference from Peers

There are the occasional generosity wells out there, but truth is the majority of writers are inherently insecure, self-focused, and volatile. Most of us rarely (if ever) find enough strength within ourselves to hold our own heads up most of the time, let alone encourage and uplift others.

It's great to have writer friends, it's important and necessary, but we can't rely on them to pull us along. We shouldn't rely on others to give us strength and support. We must first and foremost support ourselves. Any cheers from others are then a bonus, and not a dire necessity.

It's also true that in the beginning years, when we flail and wander around, bumping into walls and stepping on our own feet, we team up with other beginners to not feel alone. And that's great! We need companionship as we learn and grow and find our writerly selves. But as time passes and each of those beginners finds their own path, they'll inevitably start drifting apart. And that's fine too. It's necessary for proper growth.

If you had a bunch of writer friends in the beginning but you lost touch, or you feel they've become indifferent as they struggle to take off on their own, just remember it's normal. It's okay. Every fledgling leaves the nest on their own two little wings. It's how it must be.

Indifference from Readers

Now this is a tough one, because it either means your writing isn't quite there yet craft-wise, or you're barking up the wrong trees (not marketing your books to the right people).

But it's also useful news, because all of these things can be improved on. And massively.

Writing is based on talent, sure, but good writing is built with a skillset you can hone and work on. Every project you finish refines your skills. Every book you publish, whether it sells or not, teaches you something. As long as you keep writing, keep learning, and improve with every project, you will definitely reach people – and get the emotional response you want to get.

As to marketing properly, that's just as important as writing a good story well. Now, marketing isn't just buying ads and tweeting and whatnot.

Marketing has two parts: packaging, and distribution. And both of these need to be in sync, and targeted to people who will have a positive emotional response to your work. And that means doing things right from your story to your cover & blurb, to your ads and tweets and special deals. If you market your books to the people most likely to like them, you win. If you don't, you get crickets. And then a flat-line.

This is where indifference from readers shows you where you can improve. If your story is solid, take a look at your packaging and then your distribution. Tweak and learn, experiment and practice, and eventually, indifference will turn into results.

Writing (and publishing) as a career is full of pitfalls and difficulties, and there are so many things that can go wrong it makes me dizzy to think about it. It's a tough job to focus on your stories, your craft, and your marketing. But adding constant worries about other people's response to the mixture is just overkill.

Don't stress about what they think. Learn from their reaction (or lack thereof) and keep writing.

What doesn't kill us, makes our stories stronger!

Veronica Sicoe writes adventures with deadly aliens, deadlier tech, and twisted relationships. She loves stories about conflicted characters thrust into a universe full of danger, otherness and possibility.

You can chat with her on Twitter (@VeronicaSicoe), Facebook or her blog.

If you're interested in her upcoming books, special giveaways and exclusive material, you can join her mailing list and get all the goodies delivered to your inbox.

Be sure to check out The Deep Link—the first book in the Ascendancy Trilogy:

Taryn Harber knows humanity must someday join the rest of galactic society. But the xenophobic TMC prohibits all contact.

When a resistance cell calls on her for a dangerous first-contact mission, Taryn leaps at the chance.

But her dream of making a powerful ally against the TMC turns into a nightmare. Taryn finds herself mentally linked to the ruthless warlord Amharr, and all chances of peaceful contact are lost.

As she fights to regain her freedom, the Link starts changing Taryn from within. She is transformed into a living weapon, something she cannot control by herself. Something even her own people would kill to possess.

Soon, Taryn must fight for much more than her life, and Amharr, who had no regard for another's life before, has become her last hope.