Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Journey, Not the Destination

This morning I read a post over at Nathan Bransford's blog about the fact that there really isn't any such thing as an over night success in the book business, with maybe the exception of Stephanie Meyer. For most of us, it takes a lot of hard work and long time to get anywhere.
I can attest to this, it took me nine years to get published. And I'm taking from the very first day, as a nineteen year old, when I decided to sit down and try to write a full length novel, just to see if I could. If someone had of told me that day I wouldn't see any published work for almost a decade, I probably would have been very disillusioned and wondered if I really wanted to invest nine years into something I would get no thanks for, but plenty of rejection.
I'm a writer. No doubt I would have said "what the hell" and kept on with it the same way, even in knowing how long my path to publication would be.
One thing I've come to learn recently is that newbie writers don't want to hear about it. They're happy enough to hear about the author who took one, or two, or even three years to get published. I suppose that's a conceivable length of time to work at something before reaping the rewards. And they love hearing about the people who whipped up a book and sold it first off (like Stephanie Meyer), because they all want to believe that will happen to them. But they sure as hell don't want to hear about someone who took almost ten years to get published (which, apparently is actually about the average length of time it takes most writers to get their magical 'yes'). And god forbid they hear about anyone who took fifteen or twenty years. I know of some authors who took this long. 
And I'm not saying there's anything wrong with these newbie's attitudes. Personally, I didn't want to know about it all those years ago when I started out and was all starry-eyed about getting a book published. I didn't want to consider it would take so long to get where I wanted to be. I wanted to be one of those lucky authors who got published off their first book, who rose to fast success and made a decent wage from writing.
Except funnily enough, I've learned a thing or two on this journey (which is no where near finished). I've come to see myself as one of the lucky authors. In taking so long to get my first contract, I've changed a lot of the years. I've made a lot of great friends and I think the path I took led me to be more prepared for the realities of being a published author. Because its not really that glamorous. Its a lot of hard work, with a bit more hard work, and some hard work thrown on top just for the hell of it.
And one of the biggest things I learned? Well, I always thought that being published was the destination. I was working toward that and nothing else. Once that happened, I would be fulfilled and everything in my life would neatly fall into place. Now I've come to see that being published is just one more mile-marker on the journey. I still have so much to learn and it excites me that there are many things out there waiting to be discovered. I think it won't matter how many books I write, or how long I'm in this business for, I hope to still be learning and changing.
I suppose the point is, alright, I can understand the newbie writers not wanting to hear cold, hard facts about publishing. I was there once and in that same frame of mind.
Time has proven to me that they'll either adapt and continue on, or burn out, give up and fade away.

1 comment:

Kez said...

Very true post Jess. I hear of people like Jane Porter who took 17 years and it seems unbelievable to me to keep plugging away for that long. But I look at how much I've learnt and improved in my first year and I'm really only starting to get the right mindset now. I've got a long way to go and a lot to learn - hopefully by then I'll be kid-less and will have time :)

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