Thursday, March 14, 2013

Three Irrevocable Truths About the Writing Life

My name is Aimee, and I'm a Writer.

(Hi, Aimee!)

It's been exactly 32 seconds since I last mentally complained about the industry I've chosen to break in to.


I'm here today to make sure you're aware of three irrevocable truths about the writing life.

(Uneasy murmuring)

Irrevocable Truth #1 - It Will Probably Take SERIOUS Time

Putting aside childhood dreams, and early false starts, in May of this year I will have been writing with the goal of publication for four years. In 2010 I got an agent, but wasn't able to make a sale before she left the industry. It took almost two years (including three months on submission and a different book) to get another agent. I'm facing weeks -- probably months -- of waiting while on submission to editors. Even if I get a publishing contract this year (NOT a given), it is likely I will have been pursuing the goal of publication for at least five -- possibly six, or even seven -- years before I actually see my book on the shelf in a store.

Five to seven years, my friends. And if that were my story, it would be pretty standard.

If you're early in this process, are you ready and willing to keep working, keep learning, most importantly keep writing, for several years before you reach that milestone? Does it mean that much to you?

Irrevocable Truth #2 - There WILL Be Rejection

I'm friends with a lot of published authors. Some have gone the traditional route from day one. Some have taken their future into their own hands and self published. Others have self-published first, and used their success to leverage a traditional publishing contract.

No matter what route they took, every single one of them has experienced rejection.

The traditionally published authors received negative critiques, then rejections from agents, then rejections from editors before they finally found a fit.

The self-published authors who have made that their vehicle experienced negative critiques, negative reviews, and (sometimes, sadly), negative input from people who think they've take the wrong course for their careers.

The self-published authors who've experienced success still had negative critiques, negative reviews, and (sometimes, sadly), negative feedback from people who believe they've taken a short-cut, or their success isn't "deserved".

Do you have what it takes to stand up in the face of criticism, keep going in the face of rejection, and keep writing when people don't catch your vision?

Irrevocable Truth #3 - There WILL Be Rewards

The thing with writing is, the more you learn about it, the more you're aware of your flaws. But the better you get at overcoming them.

Despite the endless waiting, the rejections, the casting your hands to the sky and asking "WHY?!", there will be days when your story is so vivid, so consuming, that it becomes your entire world. There will be moments when you read a scene you wrote and you will transport yourself into the hearts and minds of the characters that no one knows better than you do.

Most importantly, if you're willing to wait, and willing to stand up in the face of criticism and rejection, the day will also come when someone says "I want that!" then someone else says "I love this!" and that someone tells their friend, who loves it too and tweets you with gushing fan-praise. Then they tell their friends, who tell their friends... and on and on it goes. Love will abound in your life even more than the criticism and rejection. The time it took to get to that point will seem like a whisper.

You will share the world you created and the people you love with other people -- who will love them too. You all become part of a unique community, drawn together by a shared affection or emotional experience. You will belong. And it will be wonderful.

So if you're asking yourself if it's worth it, I personally think it is. But then, I'm a writer.

Your Turn: How do you feel about the long waits, and the negative input? Are you in writing to stay?



  1. Yes. It's worth it. Living proof of someone who did NOT give up totally (but asked why multiple times and wanted to bang my head against my deks), after 40 years of doing exactly what you have been doing, Aimee--someone thought my story was good enough to give it a chance.

    Everything you said is true. Everything. Follow your dreams, work harder than anyone thinks you should. Some day you'll have your glory--be it a book on the shelves or some little signing in a library with your printed book and people telling you "I loved it! When is the next one due out?"

    1. Congrats, Lorelei! Woot! Now THAT's perserverance!

    2. Wonderful morale booster! Its working already!

  2. Don't you wish we could save "Time in a bottle" like that song? It would make all the waiting involved with publication so much easier to bear. You are an inspiration, and I hope your book finds a home with an amazing publishing house.

  3. I agree with your essential truths. Writing is totally worth it, though, and there are intangibles too. When I started writing with the goal of publication, I discovered even more great books and great people. Music became more present, and time became even more precious. These are just a few gifts that writing gave me, come what may...