When I first started writing, I didn’t tell a soul. I figured that they would make fun of me, “Oh, yeah. Everyone wants to be a writer, but you’ll never be published.” And that’s the first thing that people ask me when I tell them I’m a writer, “Have you had anything published?” As if it’s a given that if you say you’re a writer, you’re just playing around.
I had the issue of my husband being a writer, too. I didn’t want him to feel as if I was treading on his territory, so I kept it to myself for a long time. But when I finally told him I was halfway through a novel, he couldn’t have been more supportive. I was sure that novel was amazing and that I’d sell it, too. That first one still sits on my shelf, and I will get back to it one day. I never finished it enough to send it out.
It is a fallacy that just because you have written a novel, it will automatically be published, though. Do you know how many writers are vying for those publishing spots? It would boggle your mind to see the great slush piles of that game and most of the stuff in it is pure crap. It sucks, but there it is. If you want to be a writer, you have to be better than all the rest, just to be noticed. So, that means, study writing — technique and business.
I know that my first novel isn’t up to snuff and so, I never tried to market it. It’s just not ready, and I won’t send anything along until it is because now, I know better. Someday, I’ll get back into it, make it right and out it will go.
But here’s the thing: You can’t think about the competition or what anyone thinks about what you’re doing, if you’re serious about being a writer. You have to be positive and push ahead no matter what.
Don’t listen to anyone who tells you it can’t be done. I’m living proof that it can. You just have to have the desire to complete the work. That’s why 99% of all wannabe writers fail, you realize? They NEVER get anything done. They don’t study the business of writing or the techniques and they fail.
You don’t have to fail. You can be whatever kind of writer you want to be, if you stay positive. You have to think that you’re making progress with every rejection that comes back to you. I have a whole manila envelope FULL of rejection slips and letters and I keep it just to remind me how far I’ve come. Embrace your rejections. Expect to have some disappointments along the way. That just goes with writing, period.
One story that always gave me hope was that James Lee Burke, the mystery writer, had The Lost Get-Back Boogie rejected something like 53 times before someone bought it, AND it subsequently won an award. Here’s what he says about rejection, “Every rejection is incremental payment on your dues that in some way will be translated back into your work.”
So, if you have to keep your writing a secret for a while, that’s ok. You don’t need the naysayers tearing you down. But you might be surprised. They just might embrace what you’re doing and be supportive beyond your wildest dreams. Regardless of what they say to you while you’re starting out, remember this: Only editors’ opinions matter.