Confession: probably my biggest pet peeve on the planet is when people start a question with “Am I the only one who…?” No. You’re not. You’re not the only one who writes that way, reads that way, likes that food, likes that band, thinks Benedict Cumberbatch sounds like a Game of Thrones character or looks like someone squeezed Spongebob and stuck googly eyes on him…you’re just not. But. There’s a different kind of “Is it just me?” feeling, and that’s the stress of when you’re drowning in something and nobody’s talking about it and you feel like everyone’s got it together but you, and so you don’t wanna say a thing, and it all snowballs until you basically wanna curl up and die. I know that feeling. It’s why I wrote this post after splitting with my first agent. So in case you are wondering any of these things, I am going to categorically tell you, it’s not just you:

  • It is not just you who feels left behind when your friends get agents or book deals. We have all moved at different paces and all had people skyrocket past us. We’ve also been the people moving past others. Pardon me if you’ve heard this before, but it’s so, so not a race. I got a book deal before other friends got agented, and now they have more book deals and with bigger houses than I do. Things don’t always move at the same pace, and that’s okay. Just be supportive for your friends, and let yourself be supported too.
  • It is not just you who finds writing your first book under contract from start to finish complete and total hell. You are not the only one who thinks it is the crappiest thing you have ever seen. My CPs can tell you what an abomination I thought UtL was when I first drafted it, and I wasn’t wrong – I will definitely be blogging closer to its release about how much it was overhauled to become the book I now love – but that’s okay. You just have to get the words down. Everything else can come later.
  • It is not just you who shuts down when you know too much about friends’ successes, whether or not it’s about envy. The hardest part for me of being in this wonderful community was being exposed to more transparency than I was ready for – about other people’s sales, advances, awards…everything. Not because I’m jealous, but because it made it feel like we’re not even in the same industry. I still feel that way, a lot. It sucks. But I know I’m not the only one.
  • It is not just you who feels like your agent, or editor, or publicist isn’t paying attention to you, or doesn’t value you. Sometimes it’s hard to process that you’re not their only client; sometimes it really is a result of bad communication. But you are not the ugly stepchild. This happens to every mid-list author at some point. It just does.
  • It is not just you who can’t do NaNoWriMo. Fast drafting is a particular skill, and it’s not one any author is required to possess, especially if you don’t write full-time. It doesn’t mean you aren’t a real writer, or a capable one, or that you’ll never finish another book.
  • It is not just you who feels like you have no idea what’s going on, what you’re supposed to be doing, how best to promote your book, how to write a perfect query, how to form relationships…any of it. It is not even just you who randomly cries about things for no reason. It is not just you who’s curled up under a table with a bottle of whiskey and rocked back and forth like a toddler.
  • It is not just you looking around a week or a month after release and going, “What now?”
  • It is not just you who’s been ditched by a writer friend, broken up with a CP, split from an agent, gotten dropped by your publisher.
  • It is not just you who feels like a fraud, or isn’t sure if you’re a “real” writer, or doesn’t know what a “real” writer even means.
  • It is not just you hearing “this book is too quiet” or “this genre is dead” or “I can’t sell this.”
  • It is not just you whose books Barnes & Noble declined to carry. Or your local indie. Or the library you frequented as a kid to whom you sent an excited postcard and who you were sure would be thrilled to hear from one of their own.
  • It is not just you who is terrified of asking for blurbs, or who’s asked and been rejected.
  • It is not just you who’s been rejected at any stage, ever, in fact.
  • It is not just you who’s gotten a review so scathing and/or embarrassing all you can do is pray no one will ever see it.
  • It is not just you who’s done an event and had no one come.
  • It is not just you who’s so burned out, you haven’t been able to write another word for months.
  • It is not just you who’s fallen into such deep depression and/or anxiety that you don’t want to get out of bed. Or that you can’t.
  • It is not just you who has too much social anxiety to do book events and/or attend conferences.
  • It is not just you thinking about entering therapy, or actually doing it, or going on meds. Not even close.
  • It is not just you who worries about letting down their publisher, or readers, or family. It is not just you who fears they won’t earn out (whether or not doing so is actually necessary), and it is not just you who fears this will be the last book deal you ever get.
  • It is not just you who is embarrassed by your sales numbers.
  • It is not just you who’s seen returns on a royalty statement and felt like the world’s biggest loser over it.
  • It is not just you who feels like no one has ever heard of you.
  • It is not just you who can’t afford to attend conferences, or can’t take the time, or both.
  • It is not just you who feels sick every time someone asks when your next book is coming out because you have absolutely no idea if or when there will be a next.
  • It is not just you seeing other books on “Best of” lists or “Waiting on Wednesdays” but not yours, never yours.
  • It is not just you who might need a hug right now, or in an hour, or every hour on the hour, or more.
  • It is not just you who needs a social media break; take it. You won’t be sorry. And no, people won’t forget you exist while you’re gone; they’ll just be happy to see you again when you come back.

It is not just you. It is never just you. And if you ever really and truly think it is, talk about it with someone; do not let fear or shame hold you back. For all you know, you might be talking about it with someone who thought it was just them, too.

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