Several years ago I experienced a personal loss that made me fully realize how fragile life is, and how fleeting time is. I realized that I had no guarantee of another year, or five, or ten, in which to find the time to turn the ideas bombarding my brain into novels and then to get them published.
Freelance vs. Novel
Compared to publishing novels, freelance writing is easy. Easier than devouring warm fudge brownies, chased by a glass of cold milk. My journey to published novelist was often a bumpy one. Looking back on that pot-holed road to becoming published, I realize that I wouldn't know as much about the publishing industry, the creative process, and the business of writing had I instantly achieved my goal.
The lessons I've learned have often been learned the hard way. I joke that I'm a slow learner. Perhaps resistant is more accurate. (My mother always said I was the most stubborn child she'd ever seen.) I tried to impose my belief systems on the vagaries of the publishing business. For instance, I believed that you could write a book about anything that struck your fancy, and if it was a good book it would get published. Guess what I learned? The publishing business didn't care what I thought. Big surprise, huh?
Perhaps Ben Franklin meant people like me when he said: "Experience keeps a dear school but a fool will learn in no other." I don't say this with bitterness, but with a self-deprecating laugh. I may not be the brightest person in the world, but I possess one trait that many do not have. I learn from my mistakes. And I learn from other people's mistakes because I figure I won't live long enough to make all of them myself!
For Your Consideration
From my years in the business, I pass along these truths.
1. Writing successfully requires a consistent commitment. You must place the seat of your pants in the seat of the chair on a consistent basis.
2. Writing is hard work physically so incorporate taking care of your body from the start. Prevent problems like back spasms, sciatic pain, carpel tunnel rather than try to cure them.
3. Writing is hard work emotionally so take time to play. Don't tell your child "later" every time she or he wants to toss a ball with you or take a swim. Don't tell your husband “no” when he wants you to go fishing with him or play golf. You'll regret it one day if you do. Pages can be written another day but time with loved ones can't be reclaimed. Life is short. Children grow up while you aren't looking.
4. Writing is hard work mentally so read for pleasure and read to learn more about the world and do fun things to balance the work.
5. Not every good book you write will sell. Sad but true. Ask any published novelist.
6. After you sell a book, you'll still get rejected. Yep. Unfortunately true too.
7. If you don't get rejected very often, you aren't trying hard enough.
8. You'll lose friends because some become jealous. The day may come when you realize there is no excuse for their nasty comments to others about you. No excuse but jealousy. You'll grieve, but you'll accept and move on.
9. You'll make new friends who accept you and cheer you on.
10. You won't get rich unless you are that one in a million, and no one can predict that so don't expect it. Just write the best book you can write and have fun doing it.
Then do it again and again.
Labels: Writing Biz