Thursday, December 30, 2010

We Love to Hear About the Hard Times

Last week, my FundsforWriters editorial covered how long it took me to write, edit, find an agent, then land a contract for my novel Hog-Tied (name may change). Frankly, I thought it little more than a chronology, with an attaboy at the end.

OMG, I received over a hundred replies to that simple message about how hard it was to find my way through this maze we call writing to publication. People thanked me for revealing the details. I was stunned so many found my journey interesting. Many stated they were now motivated to begin again. Huh?

Freezing PointBoiling PointThen on December 28, Karen Dionne, author of Freezing Point and Boiling Point (released December 28, 2010) gave her story about landing an agent and a contract on  the Sisters in Crime blog. While her situation was different, it was similar. It took me years to land an agent. It took her years to land the contract after she found her agent. Bottom line, it was not easy.

I think there's something soothing and validating about seeing other people endure hard times like we do. Suddenly we aren't as worthless or talentless as we thought. Writers we know, writers like us, have struggled at their keyboards in sweats, with coffee and uncombed hair, fretting over rejection. We sense a little hope. We see others ahead of us in the procession, actually making it to a publisher - to the bookstore shelf.

For some reason we don't see big name authors as living on our planet. They do. They walked in the same shoes we did once upon a time. They were poor, held other jobs, felt rejection. They didn't win the lottery. They kept writing, submitting and querying. Some days they believed in their work. Other days they wanted to rip it to shreds. Some of them just kept writing because it's what they do. But once, they were like you.

This effort is long, hard, steady and endless. You do not write quickly. You do not publish quickly. You do not decide to write in order to make a buck. If you have a deadline to "make it big", then move on and find another hobby. If there's anything I've learned from this endeavor, it's that I'd do it no matter what. It's that mentality that gives you promise, makes you continue, keeps you sane.

It's the end of 2010 and the start of a fresh 2011. Sit back and decide what you'll accomplish in that shiny new year. But don't say publish, because that's out of your hands. Say write, edit, market, study, critique and study. Say submit and query. See those action verbs? Those are in your hands. Do those to the best of your ability, and somebody else will take care of the publishing.


Ellie Garratt said...

A great post! Luck sometimes plays a part, but writing is hard work. It takes commitment and stamina.

Malcolm R. Campbell said...

The media seems to prefer covering the apparent overnight successes...writer ABC just happens to live next door to an agent who pushes the MS...after writer XYZ self-publishes, a cousin of a famous publisher reads the MS and sends it to the publisher with a Post-It note saying "read this." And bingo, somebody is rescued from probable obscurity.

The real stories about the long hours and the twists and turns of the journey are more interesting to real writers.


M. K. Clarke said...

More oftentimes than not, the big name authors seldom come "down from yon high" to tell us how hard this is, how much a leaning on the last nerve is to get the first chapter just right, how much you have to eat, sleep, breathe your craft, how many pots of coffee and sleepless nights, how much honing this craft really takes place. We read one another, but the writing life certainly doesn't have to be a lonely one or something elusive as some choose to, as well as the media, portray it as. Anything worth doing takes doing it; the big question remains: will the wannabees stop whining about it and appreciated the honing process to get to the goal? Shortcuts won't make that happen. Embracing the sweat of it does. Thanks, Hope, for being part of my life and letting me and the rest of us know in a humble, down-to-Earth manner, this goal isn't as elusive as others believe or (sometimes) martyr it to be.

Toyin O. said...

Thanks for sharing.

Crystal said...

Thanks so much for this, Hope! It's SO, SO INSPIRING and just what I need to start the new year off!