There’s been a wave of blog posts lately regarding rejection in writing, reiterating how hard it is get published and succeed. I don’t feel the need to beat that horse, but I do want to talk a bit about what we learn when we start writing and aspire to publication. First, let me give credit to the wonderful Betsy Lerner, whose post put the bug in my head.
I had an idea early on that writing a book was only the first step. Having watched my aunt struggle to publish in my teens, I used to say that writing the book was only half the battle. Now I’m pretty convinced that the initial writing is closer to ten percent. There’s querying (which in of itself is not a simple process), coming up with a marketing plan, networking, learning to write a strong synopsis and elevator pitch, avoiding scammers, and thickening your skin till it has the consistency of concrete. You need to be actively reading all the while to keep the rhythms of English close at hand. There are a lot of decision points mixed throughout this process: is a critique group right for you? Should you blog, use social network sites like Facebook, invest in a website, joins local associations, and invest the money to attend conferences? Then there is the writing itself, revisions, polishing, and growing in your craft.
One of the biggest misconceptions I face in telling people I write is that it’s an automatic sign of success, having written a book. Just explaining the idea of a practice manuscript can be a bit draining.
So why write and persist when the process is so hard? The easiest answer is that I love it. It defines me. The few times in my life when I’m put it away, tried to walk away, have been the most depressing I’ve had. Each step in the process of writing and publishing is a lesson, a learning experience, and a struggle. When it all gets me down, especially the notion that I might never publish in an industry undergoing seismic upheaval, I turn to my computer, fire up Word, and start a new project. I try to find that spark that first drove me to want to write down a story. The best answer to getting frustrated with writing, perhaps ironically, is to write.