Hi everyone. Well, in answer to the above question, I guess it’s up to you to decide…
So, where am I coming from? This month we’ve been talking about what we wish we’d known when we began this writer journey. I admit this topic befuddled me.
Now, I’ve been around a l-o-n-g time. 72 books. Three agents. Multiple editors. European translations. Traditionally pubbed for almost 25 years and yes, scratch out my eyes if you wish but I sold the first book I subbed. Does that mean I knew it all? That I know it all? No. Never, Nada. Zilch. I STILL don’t know it all. And I think if I did that some of the magic and mystique of what I do would be lost to me.
But still, I had a post to write, so I pondered and pondered: what do I wish I’d known back then? No matter how hard I thought about it, I couldn’t come up with anything worthy of sharing.
That dropping penny…
Then the penny dropped. You see, I was having lunch with a group of close writer friends. Some were contracted for their 30th, 40th or even 50th book. Another was only 7 books in but her first book went to auction and she’s been at the top of her game since. During the long afternoon, I posed the question, hoping for inspiration for this post. And you know what? Every single one of them looked at me with a blank expression.
And that’s when I knew.
I knew that if I’d known everything back then, I wouldn’t have had the success I’ve enjoyed. And neither would they. The biggest lessons I’ve learned in life are those I’ve learned the hard way through experience. They stick with you. And you don’t forget them. And what’s more, they were personal to me. Specific to me and my journey. Writing is no different. The most treasured lessons you’ll learn are those you had to fight to overcome.
So I guess that where the ‘no advice’ comes in..
However, my conscience was raging at me, so maybe these aren’t exactly on topic, but these are two things I always tell others who want to become traditionally published.
- Enjoy your time and as unpub.
Trust me, getting published is a game changer. You now not only have a career, you have a job. You have to turn up. You can’t decide NOT to write for a while. You can’t decide that you’ll take three years to write the next novel because that’s how long it took to write the first. I’m not pointing any fingers – though privately I am 😉 – but we’ve all seen brilliant first novels that have had raging success and gone on to become leaders in our field with movie franchises to boot – only to find the follow up novels not so enthralling. In fact they can be downright disappointing. Why? Because that first brilliant novel took years to write and the pubs demanded the next in under a year. That’s reality. Publishers buy authors. If they buy you, they saw your talent, they liked your story and they bought ‘you’. They’ve invested in you and the best way to secure success for both of you is to continue with more of the same. And quickly.
Published authors see so many, many striving authors not appreciate that time before publication. That period when time was your own, when you wrote whatever took your fancy and you were the only person it mattered to. I’m not saying don’t work hard. I’m just saying don’t forget to enjoy it.
- Once you’ve submitted a work, don’t fret by the computer second guessing yourself.
If the work is unfinished – finish it. And polish it.
If it is complete – then do what I did in my early days: each time I put the next submission in the mail (because it was mail in those days!) I went home and began something else. It saved all that anguishing over whether the editor liked it. It saved my sanity by redirecting my focus. By the time the answer came, I was so involved in the next project it didn’t hurt as much if it was a negative response.
You’ll not only have a great distraction – you’ll end up with a notable body of work. It’s a win-win.
Writing is a crazy game. An affliction. It’s both a blessing and curse. A blessed gift and a curse because it never stops. If you truly are meant to do this, you’ll have no choice. So don’t beat yourself up, just enjoy it. Your time will come.
Multi award winning author Kaz Delaney has published 72 novels for kids, teens & adults
over a 25 year period, many of them published in several languages. Thirteen are YA novels and every one features a romance. Her latest is The Reluctant Jillaroo, Allen & Unwin, 2016 . She is repped by JDM Management.