"How I decided to toss aside all those good feelings I had about myself and try to publish a novel"
“Hey, Mike. You’re writing’s good. You should write a book,” a co-worker said after reading a work document I had put together for my boss.
Hmm, I thought, I do write fairly well. How hard could it be? So began the most difficult part of my life to-date.
Writing a book, then really completing a book (they’re not the same), then finally getting it published has been, by far, the most rewarding/frustrating/maddening/exhilarating undertaking I’ve ever done. There are so many ups and downs and ups, then back downs, it’s hard to believe that someone actually chooses to do this. If, however, the siren calls and you feel that you must answer, here’s a few words on what I’ve learned.
First there’s the writing. As any writer knows, this can be joyous or a horror, depending on the day, hour, minute. When I was first encouraged to “just write a book”, I thought this sounded easy enough. I knew how to run a good sentence and what was a novel but a lot of well ordered sentences? Eek. I’ll admit, I had a strong beginning, if one considers the first page or two a beginning. It was after that that I began to run out of steam and ideas of how to proceed. After some soul-searching, I decided that it was time to go back to school. In my late 30’s, I began my informal writing education. I took a creative writing class at the local community college (well worth doing, especially for the $59 cost of an adult ed class). I then attended the Pacific NW Writer’s conference (really worth doing!) where I attended writing seminars, met and networked with other authors, and was able to talk to real, honest-to-goodness agents about the writing business (the agent part wasn’t exactly encouraging, but it did ground me in the realities of the business). Finally, I bought and read several books on the craft of writing fiction. This took several months in all, but I finally felt equipped to try and write a book. Many years later, the book was complete!
Then the real work began. When you have what you consider to be a best-selling novel in your hands, you feel that the book should just stop short of selling itself. Throw the pages into the ether and it will land with an agent and publishing contract in tow. In reality, finding a buyer for my novel was the most aggravating task I’ve ever undertaken. Agent? Forget it. I tried my luck and had as many agents at the end of my search as I had at the beginning. Hell, even a goose has an actual goose-egg at the end of their work. I had nothing more than a figurative goose egg. There are classes on how to find an agent, an editor, and/or a publisher and by all means, take them. They can only help. But in the end, what all the classes and those in the know will tell you, is that what it really takes is perseverance and the willingness to be rejected for good writer, you will be rejected. And if you happen to enjoy the onslaught of “No’s and Hell No’s or just plain being ignored,” then you’ve found the avocation for you!
In the end, this is all a dream. We all dream of the novel, then the publishing, then the fame and fortune. If you’re like me, you’ve dreamed of walking the red carpet with family in tow while you attend the premiere of the movie from which your book was the inspiration. But, if you’re also like me, you know deep down that you’d do this if at the end of the day, you’ve only written a book for your kids to pass down to their kids, no fame, no fortune – nothing but the knowledge that you’ve done something great…something no one can take away from you…something to be proud of ‘til your last day. At least that’s what I keep telling myself as I read the latest best-seller.