Guest Post: Writing is Hard Work

A long time writing friend of mine, Janci Patterson, just came out with a new book: Everything’s Fine. I’ve read it in workshops over the years and am happy it’s finally seeing the light of day. Also very intriguing to me is the fact that Janci’s gone with the self-publishing route for this book. She hired an actual real-life editor and cover designer, and she printed physical books in addition to going the ebook route. It’s something I’ve toyed with doing over the years, but Janci stopped toying and started doing. She’s here today to give some insight into the process and the resolve it took to pull off. Read and enjoy, and please do give Everything’s Fine a gander to see if it’s up your alley.

Now turning the rest of the time over to Janci:

For a long time, I was afraid of self-publishing. Most of my fears were bound up in this one issue: I knew it would be an intense amount of work.

Avoiding work was not a new thing for me. I didn’t really learn to revise until after I’d written my sixth novel. Up to that point, I’d finish a book, run it through writing group, and I’d look at all the problems it had, and I’d declare: “It would be easier to just write another book!” This avoidance of work was how I came to have six unpublishable novels, a pile of rejections, and several years’ worth of revision ahead of me before I got to draft any more.

It was only standing in the middle of that mess, looking back, that I finally realized this important truth: writing is a lot of work. Maximizing the process for ease is a fool’s errand.

This isn’t to say that I intentionally make things harder on myself. But I no longer let myself consider the magnitude of the work when I make decisions about how to write. Instead, I focus on what the story needs, what would make the book better, what will make me a stronger writer, what will help me learn new skills. I frequently look at the demands of a revision and say to myself, “I’m not a good enough writer to pull this off!” And then I go to work, turning myself into a person who can. When I do, I come out of the process as changed as the novel is.

So it was with Everything’s Fine. It became abundantly clear to me that I needed to self-publish it, and when I started to move in that direction, lots of work lined up before me to be done. This is the final gift that Everything’s Fine gave me: it turned me into a self-publisher. Was it a lot of work? Yes! Was it more work than publishing in New York? Actually, for me, it was almost exactly the same. Was it worth it?


I cannot express how excited I am to hold Everything’s Fine in my hands–a real, live book that I can share with other people. A hundred times I was sure that would never happen, and yet here it is, a product I’m proud of. There’s nothing easy about that, but there’s something so incredibly satisfying about it.

So go, writers! Work! It’s hard, and sometimes it’s miserable, but it’s also awesome.

Really, isn’t that what work is all about?

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