So my friends just found out that Minstrel is on its way to publication. I’ve received comments such as, “Wow, that was fast.” Or, “When did you have time to just pound out a book?”
To all potential authors out there… it’s never fast. What you see on Facebook is what we put out there for you to see. You see us write, “Starting Day 1 of NaNoWriMo” then, “The manuscript is being formatted!” Then you see us announce a release date. You don’t see the hours at the computer between one November and the next.
You don’t see the 12-year-old who writes her first novel in notebooks, carrying them around between classes so people think she’s studying and don’t interfere with her thoughts. You don’t hear the snide comments from her friends, as if, “I’m writing a book” was synonymous with, “I’m trying to become more beautiful than you.” You don’t hear adults telling her, “That’s great, but you need a real career.” My mother thought she was supportive, but she had submitted a few works, had been rejected, and had stopped writing because of it. I could feel that rejection in her comments. For a while, I was married to a man who sabotaged my work, deleted my files or created extra chores for me, because my writing interfered with attention he wanted. Then there were years where I struggled to work two full-time jobs while raising children on my own. Most of those years, nothing got written. I’ve been through critique groups where people twenty years older than me ripped my work apart and trampled my self-esteem, though they were no better at their craft. I’ve also been through those critiques that dissected my work and isolated parts that were weak or lacking or trite. I started writing then stopped so I could survive cancer. I started writing then stopped to deal with a special needs child. Minstrel is my fifth full-length novel; the other four are unpublished for a reason. Because I now have a supportive partner who facilitates my dreams and allows me to escape into my office for a few hours a day, because I can now say my skill has improved enough to create a publishable work… none of that deletes 24 years of growth.
To all potential authors out there… if you’re willing to endure 24 years of work to publish your first novel, you’ve moved beyond the first step. You will not become talented overnight. You won’t develop that thick skin within a few days. But as you write, as you tackle the obstacles in your life and learn from them, and use them to enrich your writing, you will get better. You’ll get closer to that published novel. And when your friends say, “Wow, that was fast,” you just smile and move on. You’re the only one who really knows how much growth goes into greatness.