SynthesisThe ClearingWriters Unite

The Scariest Feeling Of All: Indifference

I’m having trouble caring anymore. About being published, I mean. Really published. Because yes, my first novel is out there, but I did it myself.

I’m just going to go ahead and say it: self-publishing felt like giving up.

It did not feel fun. It did not feel victorious. It did not feel exciting, although I’m pretty sure I described myself as “excited” about a million times when I announced The Clearing‘s publication.

I’ve had an agent for over two years now. Granted, we’ve only submitted the one book so far, but the novelty of saying things like “Hang on, I’ve got to answer this call, it’s my agent,” has officially worn off.

Yes, I will eventually get Synthesis edited and send it back to aforementioned agent, and eventually we will submit it to editors. My problem now is that I’m not sure I care what those editors think.

It’s good in some ways, I guess. Maybe the rejection will sting less. But then, shouldn’t it sting? If it stops stinging, does that mean I’ve lost my motivation?

I don’t know.

Maybe it’s because the past week was emotionally difficult for a variety of reasons. (I won’t go into those reasons here because they are way too personal, but if you’re privy to our family blog, I’m sure I’ll write about it there sometime this week.)

(If you’re not privy, I apologize for making you aware of your un-privyness. Or whatever.)

(Thank you, red squiggly line, for letting me know that “un-privyness” is not a word. I HAD NO IDEA.)


I’ve been in ruts like this before, but never this bad. What do you do when you lose the passion for writing? When you lose the motivation to achieve the dream you’ve had for so long? Please tell me, because I’ve got a novel that needs revising and I just. can’t. do it.

35 thoughts on “The Scariest Feeling Of All: Indifference

  1. Perhaps remember that there are your loyal supporters out there who LOVE to read what you’ve written. You have a gift…you make me laugh, empathize with characters and you make ME want to write.

    I love The Clearing. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…I’m so glad to finally read it! I can’t wait to have my own signed copy too so I can read it again 🙂 And Synthesis is great too…it should be out there.

    So yes, do it for you…but also do it for people like me who just love your style.

    1. I’m starting to think I should pay you for the publicity you give me 🙂 Thanks friend.

  2. The fact that you have an agent at all speaks of your talent as a writer, at least in my opinion. I feel like I’ve reached the point where I’m excited for all of five minutes whenever an agent requests a full. I can’t get my hopes up too high, because I feel rejection is two steps around the corner. I just want a darn agent!!!

    But I get what you’re saying. Publishing a book yourself feels a bit like giving up, and it doesn’t help that agents don’t take self-published writers too seriously. I’m about to self-publish a book (that I never meant to query in the first place), and then I’ll self-publish the book that got agent attention, but no representation. I’m still crossing my fingers that my third book is THE ONE that will charm an agent in to making that offer.

    But you know as well as I do having an agent is no guarantee that your book will be published in the traditional sense of the word. Despite that, you have a leg up on a lot of self-published authors. You have an agent’s stamp of approval on your work. And, um . . . hello . . . but it seems to me you have a nice following. 😀

    Take a break from writing and revising, but don’t give up!

    1. Thanks Melissa. Yes, that reality – of “agented doesn’t mean published” – that’s a hard pill to swallow. I always knew it was true, but I never felt the weight of that truth until now. Still, it’s not like I’ve lost all hope. Like I said above, it’s only the one book that’s been rejected – maybe this next one will do better. And believe me, you will get an agent. I don’t see how you couldn’t, to be honest.

  3. Anne…. there’s a big difference between being indifferent to publishing success and losing your motivation to write altogether. If you HAVE tied the two together, you’re in for a world of hurt, yes. And I would feel very bad if that’s the case.

    I would suggest writing out your reasons. Why do you write? Why do you want to publish? DO you still want to? It’s okay if not, but again, you need to separate the writing and the publishing.

    1. You’re right. I do need to separate them. I’m just not sure how. The dream of being published was a big motivator to me, and without that push, I’m not sure I can find the energy to spend on another book that may or may not find a home on bookshelves. I enjoy writing… but right now it just seems like an unsurmountable task.

  4. No, no, NO! I refuse to let you think you gave up! THIS is not giving up! This is seeing a dream and pursuing it… You should be sooo proud of yourself! You didn’t let ANYONE tell you that you couldn’t do it and you did it!

    You are a fantastic writer and I’m glad to support you in this!!! 🙂

    Keep plugging… there will be those days that make us feel like… MEH, whatever… this too shall pass.


    1. Thanks Eisley! It is a means to an end, that’s for sure. Thank you for your constant support and encouragement. It means the world!

  5. Baby girl, you need to write something new. You got to the agent stage…you know how many of us have not even attempted to find an agent yet? *raises hand* So you self published, and you didn’t find it comforting…that doesn’t mean the road to traditional publication is now closed to you. Are you reading any good books lately? That motivates me sometimes. Or music, discovering new music sets my muse on fire. Take a break, short break and see where your heart is later.

    I hate these moments in the writing career. They come more frequently than one would prefer. Get back up on that writing house and find a new fire.

    1. Yeah. I think the problem is that all I have on the horizon right now is a book that needs to be EDITED. I really don’t care for editing, especially when I feel like the task is so huge. It’s possible I need to put this project on the backburner for the time being and start something brand new. Hmmm… you may have something there, Winner of the Word Count Challenge. (Remember how you kicked my butt that time? I soooo thought I had won!)

  6. Well before I was blogging, I just wallowed and waiting until it wore off. Now I just read fellow writer’s blogs and hear them struggling through the same things. By trying to lift them up and make them feel better, I feel better. We’re in this together. We may not take the same path but we have one huge thing in common: we’re writers.

    Chin up! 😀

  7. I quit writing before. Several times, in fact, because I fell into ruts like yours. I felt desperate and even bored with what I was doing, so I stopped. After that, it took me a long time to get back into the swing of things, but it was worth it.
    Maybe this isn’t what you want to hear, but sometimes, I think, taking a step back is what you need to clear your head of all that BS. When you see people around you succeeding and living the dream you had in mind for yourself, it can be disheartening, but taking a step back may remind you WHY you write in the first place.
    So ask yourself, why do you write? I know your answer isn’t to be published. All you need is something to spark and inspire you. Find one thing that got you excited about writing all those years ago and revisit it. Ask for recommendations for powerful books, because when you read greatness, it instills greatness. Allow yourself to daydream. You need your imagination at its peak for writing to work properly.
    If all else fails, you have fans and friends who will kick you until you write some more. 🙂

    1. Thank you, thank you, thank you, new mama 🙂 Yes. I think the “downs” are necessary sometimes so that we can come back fresh. Maybe a rut is exactly the kick in the pants I need to get this book revised and out there.

  8. It wouldn’t be wrong to take a good long break from writing and “the pursuit”. Maybe even to give yourself the summer off, then come Fall, re-evaluate. Is writing still something you want to do? For fun? Whether or not you get published and live “the dream”? I’ve taken long breaks before, and sometimes it’s just what you need to have the energy and inspiration to get back at it.

    I’m sorry to hear you had a hard week. Hoping this one is better!

    1. Thank you Elle! Yes… sometimes a break is just what the doctor ordered. I’m just slightly afraid I might not ever pick it back up again if I go away for too long!

  9. Hey Mrs. Riley, this is Adam Smith. I happened to read your discouraged blog post today and felt like I’d give you my 2 cents.
    Whenever I lose motivation in general, I find that reading great literature inspires me like nothing else. Carlos Ruiz Zafon carries me to a higher level of existence. Also, I got into Ian McEwan a lot over the Christmas break. His stuff is really interesting, although some of it is downright twisted. :/
    Anyway, keep up the work. I will buy your book as soon as I return to the United States. Looking forward to reading it!

    1. Hey Adam! I’m so jealous you’re in Spain. I hope you’re having a great time! Thanks for commenting. I do need to start reading again. It’s been hard with Maggie here because now I just want to go to sleep at night, but… I think it’s essential that I read. Just gotta get back in the swing of things!

  10. It’s tough, I’ve been there, recently in fact. I’ve gone through the editor submission process with an agent and my book didn’t make it out the other side. My agent and I parted ways, on good terms, but still, we parted ways. I just keep writing everyday and trying to improve. You never know which book will be The One so you have to keep going. By the way, I’m reading The Clearing right now and am loving it. I for one, am very happy and very excited that you self-pubbed it. Otherwise, it wouldn’t be in my hands right now. 🙂

  11. You inspire me, and I know I’m not the only one. Don’t give up now. Sometimes it helps me to remember who I’m writing for. I would love to get published but at the end of the day, if I’ve stayed true to myself and written something that makes me happy, I almost don’t care what happens. Maybe just right for yourself awhile, and see if that helps. 🙂

  12. You are brave to express this feelings! I hate editing. I just start something new and try to forget about it. Alas, I can’t. But its on the bottom of my list, so I do everything else first. this is a good thing, I get a lot of OTHER things done that I didn’t do when I was writing. ie critiques, submissions, blog, scrapbooking, baking, cleaning, sleeping… In a couple of months I’ll remember my book and be super excited to edit it. Maybe. If all else fails, I’ll go on a trip. I’ve dealt with depression before, and I have to really fight to keep it at bay. Do everything in your power to care for your self first, the writing will come when you are happy and healthy again.

    1. Thanks Hal! Yeah I am the same way – when there is editing to be done, I get all my laundry and cleaning done first! 🙂

  13. Hi Anne,

    Long time no talk. I’m so sorry to hear you are feeling like this. Terribly sorry.

    Why, oh why, in this day and age do writers feel like self pubbing is giving up? My goodness, there are self pub writers out there who make way more money than those who are trad pubbed.

    That aside – did you ever approach independent publishers? I guess my question is WHY NOT US!!

    I say this with tongue in cheek of course and a smile on my face, but I would have loved to have taken a look at The Clearing.

    There are a ton of other talented indie presses who you might want to work with. All I’m saying is, try all your avenues, self pub, indie pub and trad pub, you never know what might happen.

    Depression, esp after we become parents, is very common. I’m not trying to diagnose you, but hey – lack of sleep and someone yelling at you all the time can get on the toughest of us.

    Keep your chin up. You’re a fantastic writer. My sister is reading your book and loves it, and she doesn’t read. Believe me, with three little kids and a lot to look after, she does not invest her time in books and she is for yours.

    You’re a nice person, and I’m a strong believer that good things come to good people.

    And I look forward to reading about the new Amanda Hocking —- Anne Riley!

    1. Thanks Michelle! I guess the reason I didn’t go through an indie publisher is that I just wasn’t ready for that step. I don’t know why really – but I still want to try to go traditional. Thanks for your kind words!

  14. Well I just have to say that I’m reading The Clearing right now and it. is. FREAKING. BRILLIANT. – Full Stop. Period. End Of Transmission.

    What ever the trial it is that you’re facing right now, know that there are a lot of people out here who think that you are the Bee’s Knees. Talented, Witty, Generous and Successful.

    And at the end, when you look back, you’ll be able to say that “I Did It”

    You Are A Published Author Annie.

  15. All of your friends have said it best. You’re amazing, girl. You are so talented–I know this just from what I’ve seen so far. I wish I knew what to say to make it better for you. Just know I’ve got you in my thoughts and prayers. Hang in there, sweet. <>

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