As soon as I finished Selection by Keira Cass when I was in the 8th grade, I knew that I was destined to be a romance writer. A delicious euphoria spreads throughout my heart when I sit down in front of my laptop to create characters, conflicts, dark moments and, of course, that first kiss. This is what makes me feel so alive!
Two years ago, I finished the novel I believe has the best potential. My friends love it and my manuscript has won awards at different conferences. I have a small stack of business cards from editors and agents who’ve requested my proposal.
But that’s where progress stops. I feel my chances of getting hit by a car are higher than getting a publishing contract. It’s been two years of getting my hopes up and then getting let down. I think that I’m doing all the right things. I’m listening to everyone’s advice. Ugh. Abby, please help me! Am I a fool for dreaming that my story could be traditionally published?
Signed, Was Hopeful, Now Worried
Dear Was Hopeful, Now Worried,
Thank you for bravely sharing your not-so-smooth journey into the world of publishing. I suspect that you aren’t alone on this journey. I’d like to share three thoughts with you:
First, celebrate that you’ve followed through on writing the novel you dreamed about.
Second, there’s a difference between dreaming of being a writer and dreaming of publishing a book. In the former, you’ve already succeeded and the latter, is the road that you’re traveling. Dear writer, don’t confuse the two roads. If your sole measure of success is publishing, you’re robbing yourself of enjoying the gift you already have.
Remember your favorite character and the moment you first saw the picture of them in your mind. You did that! What about the first time you had to remind yourself your character wasn’t real, but they felt real to you. That’s priceless.
Remember the butterflies in your belly as your fingers flew across the keyboard as the scene you plotted darted off in an unexpected direction. How many times have you wiggled in your seat because you were on a roll and didn’t want to stop writing to go to the bathroom?
Our love of the story is the dream that comes true every time we sit down to write. We write because we’re inspired. The spark of creativity lights a fire in our soul. I don’t know about you, but at times I hear my heartbeat loudly in my chest when I’m carried away.
The words that we bring to life make us feel more alive.
Which brings me back to your inquiry. I didn’t forget, and the third thought is, I’m going to ask a few questions in response to your question. I hope you and other fellow writers on the journey find them helpful:
- When do you love writing the most?
- What keeps you in the seat and pushing to finish your manuscript?
- If your desire is to publish, what can you control about your publishing journey? What can’t you control?
- If you desire to pursue publishing, what are the risks/investments that you’ve taken? What are the risks/investments that you’ve been afraid to take?
If you don’t mind, I’d like to wrap this up with a favorite quote from Elizabeth Gilbert’s inspiring book, Big Magic. I think that what she shares here applies to our conversation today:
“No way was I going to give up on my work simply because it wasn’t ‘working.’ That wasn’t the point of it. The rewards could not come from the external results- -I knew that. The rewards had to come from the joy of puzzling out the work itself, and from the private awareness that I held, that I had chosen a devotional path, and I was being true to it. If someday, I got lucky enough to be paid for my work, that would be great, but in the meantime, the money could always come from other places.”
I wish you and your fellow writer sojourners all the best,
JOIN THE CONVERSATION: Thanks for stopping by! I hope that you were encouraged by today’s post, and I had fun pretending to be Dear Abby! Join the conversation by answering one of the questions posed above or sharing your words of encouragement with your fellow writers.