If I could make one wish and it had to be related to getting published, it would be that every writer should have to go through the same journey (i.e. school or a rigorous placement exam) in order to see their writing in print. In other words, if writers are lawyers, then we should all go to law school, study our cute little asses off, and all pass the BAR. The journey would be something uniform and easy, something that tells us that when we hit the end of law school year one, or two, or get the “Shazam! You passed!” for BAR results that we’re all that much closer to our dream.
But writing is one of those art forms, noble as it is, that leads each artist down varying paths, dead ends, and new doors. The harrowing pathway reminds me of this:
Yes, I sometimes feel like Jack Nicholson is looming over me as I race through the maze, trying to find someone to help me get my book in print BEFORE he hacks me and the publishing industry into pieces. And all the while I’m terrified Shelly Duvall will make me eat another week’s worth of canned cream corn from the hotel’s kitchen because my taste buds and bowels are just not having it.
Writing isn’t easy. There’s no formula but the one that works for you and you alone. But you don’t know what that formula is because no one tells you. You, the writer, have to figure it out. That can take years or decades. You’ll lose a lot of battles along the way. A lot. And you’ll win some too. Finding your place as a writer can be one of the most painfully creative adventures you’ll go through.
My journey has differed from every other writer I know. But it’s my journey. Every step I’ve taken has been because I picked myself up, brushed off my jeans, and moved forward. I won’t give up (and not just because I don’t want to be chopped up for Shelly Duvall’s Abby-stew).
All said, I suggest that all writers out there agonizing over agents, editors, beta readers, contests, haters… blah, blah, blah… remember that you MUST celebrate the milestones, whatever those may be. For me, I just wanted to get an agent to look at my very first manuscript. I accomplished that. And I got full requests to boot. Then, I wanted to final in a contest. I did that. And I won. I have more dreams. They will come. In time.
Nonetheless, if I hadn’t celebrated those steps along the way, I would’ve given up long ago. And for that reason, I beg all of you, don’t let the lows grind you down. No matter how depressed you might feel about your dream, the good news is you can always write another book and that one might just be your Mt. Everest of milestones.