I’ve spent the past few days at the Central Ohio Fiction Writer’s conference, where I gave two talks. The first was on tweaks writers can use to clean up their prose, the second was on lessons learned five years into the published author game.
Writing with a goal of publication is hard, for at least two reasons. First, the aspiring author likely faces years of rejections and “failure,” if the goal is traditional publishing as opposed to self publishing. Even if the goal is self publishing, the author can still fail in the sense of not finding the right readers for the story. I’ve met people who’ve pursued that goal for fifteen years, and were still slogging away when last I heard. So there’s an element of uncertainty about a writing dream, the same as with any dream.
The other source of difficulty on the aspiring writer’s path is that it might all be for naught. Even if the aspiring author hangs in there, and hits the workshops, and pitches good manuscripts to all the agents and editors, she may NEVER find the right match. All this trying, and enduring, and dusting herself off may be for NOTHING.
To have no sense that your suffering is moving you toward a goal, and no guarantee that you’ll ever get there, is miserably daunting. What keeps so many people on the path to publication is that to some extent, they don’t walk that path alone. Romance writers in particular support each other, boost each other along, and help each other. Most of us, I’m convinced, really do believe in love. Really. Do. That we value each other, that we value each others’ dreams means, when we come together, the gathering can acquire an element of shimmering, luminous hope.
I’d not realized until this weekend, that just by being who I am–an author who found a publisher after a few years of scribbling away–I create hope in others coming along behind me. I’m proof their dreams can come true, proof they’re not silly to think that in their retirement years, their child-rearing years, their mid-career years, they can yet aspire to another career.
Wow. Many of them haven’t read my books, and never will. They care only that I survived the uncertain years, and I’m hoping they all do too.
So I’m listening to the storytellers’ stories, offering all the encouragement I can, but it occurs to me: We’ve ALL survived the uncertain years. As parents, spouses, employees, bosses, and more. We ALL have encouragement to offer each other, we all have the capacity to guard each others’ dreams when the road is long. When that spirit of a shared journey prevails, it’s amazing what leaps of courage and feats of endurance can result.
So I wish to each of you, good friends along the journey. Who’s dream could you guard? Your children’s? Your spouse’s? Your siblings? When were you somebody else’s example of a journey successfully completed–because you have been. You absolutely have been.
To one commenter, I’ll send a $25 American Express gift card.