Wednesday, October 13, 2010
Should I Give Up Writing?
Last week a guy asked what my plan B was, concerning writing. I didn’t understand what he’d meant at first so he clarified.
“What will you do if you don’t sell this book? Will you go back to school to learn something new, more marketable? Will you try to get a promotion at your current job?”
His questions left me silent for a long while. I’ve never been asked that before so when I finally had an answer it seemed anticlimactic.
“I write another book,” I said.
I don’t think that was a good enough answer. Writing another book probably didn’t seem like a plan B to him, more like throwing good after bad. No one who really knows me would ever ask me such a question because they know that giving up on writing is not an option. Most writers do it because they love it. You really have to because it’s such a solitary thing that I’ve been accused of being a recluse, an old maid, you name it. That’s just the way writing is. I’ve never met a writer who could do it with a room full of people talking, with the television on and babies crying. It requires concentration, so yeah, I kinda have to be alone—at least in the room alone. It’s often thankless. You have to wait months, years, or decades—if ever—to see any type of profit or accolades. So if you’re in the business for the glory then get out.
Yes I want to be published and yes I want to make enough money from my writing that it’s my single source of income, but if I don’t sell this novel, I HAVE to write another one. In this guy’s mind, not getting a book published would probably be the ultimate failure, but that’s the view of a non-writer. Actually, there are quite a few people in my family who think this way. They ask, “Are you still trying to get that book published?” It’s easier to say, yes, than it is to explain “that book” is now on the back burner and I’m querying a new one.
Writing for publication is filled with a million little successes so I don’t feel at all like a failure.
The first time you complete a novel = Success!
The first time you take hard criticism and make yourself a better writer = Success!
The first time you write a well-crafted query letter = Success!
The first time an agent requests a partial = Success!
The first time an agent requests a full = Success!
The first time an agent offers representation = Success!
The first time an editor wants to buy your novel = Success!
The first time you see your novel on a shelf in a book store = Success!
The SECOND time you complete a novel = Success!
Tell me, why would I want to give up on that? I’ve only gone through half that list! So if any of you out there are thinking of quitting, if there’s anything on that list you want to stick a pin in or mark off your list, hang in there. It happens every day so why wouldn’t it happen for us?