As you may or may not know, I am a writer. I started out with nothing but a dream. I wrote a lot in high school and college, but in my early 20s fell out of practice. I was mostly a poet, and honestly sucked at short story writing. But, I had ideas and I am a voracious reader. When I couldn’t find books in the genre I loved, I decided to write more of them. And so it began.
This post is about the lessons I have learned along the way. This is only a selected list. I am sure I could think of more.
1) Writing a book is the easy part. Everyone has written a book it seems. The cliche is that every HS English teacher has a novel tucked away in a desk drawer. It is probably true. NANOWRIMO, or whatever it is called, is also evidence of this. Whacking out a “novel” can be done, but making it readable and worthy of an audience is a whole other story.
2) Editing is actually writing. Just when I think I can’t edit it any more, I do it some more.
3) Finding an agent is a long process for most. Yes there are those who get one with five queries or in six months. But let me tell you, as agents are of course monumentally busy, the pace of response is geologic. I am not a patient person and at times I have thought I would die from waiting.
4) Karma (see yesterday’s post) is real and it is important. Do not think you are the center of the universe – ever. Be nice and act like a professional no matter how much you feel you’ve been slighted.
5) A FULL ms request does not mean you are really close to getting an agent. Sorry folks. This is a hard one. Everyone squees when they get a Full request. See Query Tracker. Requesting a full ms is just requesting pages. If you hold your breath, you will die. Write another book and forget about it. (I am still trying to master this lesson myself).
6) Have a thick skin and be ready to walk through the desert – alone. Even those who are supportive will become sheepish or sick of hearing about it as time goes by. If you want to succeed and don’t right away, it is you and you alone who has to pick yourself up again and again and keep going. Revise, Rewrite, Write Another Book. Whatever. But you have to make yourself keep going.
7) Listen to your Beta Readers. Definitely have beta readers.
8) Enjoy the process. Love writing for the writing. Create worlds and characters that make the rest of life pale in comparison. Take time to smell the peppermint and drink a mojito for goodness sakes. More on that tomorrow. Love the hope, the lives you create, the small deaths you suffer, and the rebirth, that…if you are a trooper, will happen again and again, until you get it right and reach…Nirvana.