Cross posted to the Bradford Bunch Blog
Recently I’ve been hearing stories about writers doing rash things when they’ve been unable to sell their work. Quitting forever (is a popular one), but some people even hurt themselves physically over what they perceive as a failure. (I use the word perceive because I have a much different definition of failure than most people.)
On the happy flip side of this, one of my dear friends Lauren Dane has sold two books to Berkley Heat recently! I have watched her from the beginning, before she sold to Ellora’s Cave. Over the years I’ve observed her unwillingness to never give up, even when she thought things looked their darkest.
It took me ten years to sell my first book. During that time, I endured a bad agent relationship, and amassed enough rejection letters to wallpaper two rooms. I even I did quit “forever” once. I meant it, too, and didn’t write again for three years until I realized I was being dumb and I should be doing the one thing I loved, regardless of whether or not I sold. Once I started writing purely because I loved it, that’s when everything fell into place for me.
Of course we want to sell to publishers. Writers don’t want to exist in a vacuum. We want to share our words and worlds with other people. That’s why we don’t simply just write for the joy of it and simply slip our finished product under the bed. We write for the the joy of it and try to sell that work to the world to read. And it’s a hard sell in most cases. Sure, once in a while you read about someone who never had to struggle, (and secretly we hate them. Heh.), but most of the time it takes years of blood, sweat, and commitment to finally break in.
It’s the result of art meeting commerce. It’s an uneasy match most times, and heartbreaking for those who have produced art that isn’t marketable.
The bottom line is that to pursue this path, you must have perseverance. Perseverance is not a guarantee that you will eventually sell, but without perseverance odds are you won’t. Writing is not an easy career path. Choose it because you love to write. Don’t choose it because you think you’re going to make a lot of money. You probably won’t. Choose this path because you love the “work” and, above all, persevere.
If you can keep an image in your mind of who you want to be and work toward making it real, chances are that, (with some stumblings and a few confusions here and there), you’ll succeed. It might take you ten years or longer, but you’ll eventually make a break.
Can you tell me about one time you really had to get your perseverance on? How did you manage it?