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.
I recently did have a dream
that I was Trad Published,
and yes, it did quite truly seem
to be everything that I had wished,
hanging out with Oprah Winfrey,
ski-ing winters, St. Moritz,
screaming fans who try to get to me
while bodyguards give the fits.
Kentucky Derby in the spring
(oh, look, someone’s horsie won!),
fawning minions who will bring
the drinks I ask for at a run,
and then back to stylish Aspen hovel
to write another brilliant novel.
Sigh. Writing at 3am, when like any other self-respecting writer, I should be at a party.
Second quatrain, last two lines should have been:
…screaming fans try to get to me
while bodyguards give them fits.
Such, the trials of my art!
Barbara L Roose
Andrew, you’ve captured the hopes, dreams and the wrestlings of us all. “Such the trials of our art.” So true!
Kristen Joy Wilks
“… I had chosen a devotional path…” I loved that book. Such a good reminder for creatives of all kinds!
I will answer question #1, which I just learned after 22 years of serious writing. Those 22 years do not include my jr. high writing (Revenge of the Hippie), my high school writing (I Was Reading When You Died), or even my college writing (The Male Brain, Damaged Merchandise) although all those pieces were … very exciting. All of this to say, you learn new things all the time, even after an avalanche of writing!
OK, back to question #1. I learned that I love writing most if I completely ignore the heavy weight of social media and platform until after I write. First thing in the morning, I create. All alone, before the house wakes up, I pour out words on the page. Life catches me eventually, but those morning hours are sacred and in them my heart is more full and my mind is more skilled and my spirit can sing sweetest as the words dance around my little loft office up in the mountains.
Carol Ruth Loewen
You did a great job of being “Dear Abby,” Barbara. Thank you for the reminder that if God has called us, planted a seed in us to write, we need to write. What comes next, whether traditionally published or self-published, or not published at all, is a separate issue.