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Which Writer Has It
Is it hardest to
- A new writer?
- An experienced
- A newly published
- Or a
I'm hoping you have your
rhino hide in place because the answer isn't a pleasant
Most writers believe that
once you achieve a certain goal, be it getting your dream
editor or agent to read your work, or making that first
sale, or making the second sale, that the challenges and
hard times are over and that simply isn't the way it
at every level face challenges, just different
The new writer struggles with learning the
intricacies of craft and those of an unfamiliar business.
S/he often feels as if s/he is floundering, lost in the
tomb of "don't know how." How to master this
technique, to convey the vision in the head onto to the
page. How the business works. What happens when, who
makes it happen. Walking unfamiliar ground, the new
writer needs affirmation that s/he can write, and the
resources for getting that affirmation are often
difficult to find. A daunting challenge.
Because the new writer hasn't yet learned that the only
affirmation that truly matters is that which comes from
within. Earn it and the affirmations desired from
without--from others--will come.
struggles to make the leap from unpublished to
published, for recognition of the effort s/he has
expended to learn both the business and the craft. S/he
is asked repeatedly, often by well-meaning people who
have no idea how potent a sting the words carry,
"When are you going to sell a book and be a real
writer?" At this level, the challenge is in honing
the craft and trying to gain the attention and respect of
a good agent and editor. Daunting challenge. Because the
experienced aspiring writer has gained some degree of
affirmation but typically not that of those closest to
him/her who play very important roles in his/her life.
The writer at this stage of his/her career craves
validation. S/he hasn't yet discovered that the
validation first must come from within. When the writer
feels his/her own work is valid, holds merit, s/he writes
with authority and conviction, and that translates onto
the page. Only when translated can that validation come
from without--from others. Until then, readers can't
experience it, because the writer hasn't experienced it.
(Remember, a reader can't get out of a book what the
writer doesn't first put in the book.)
struggles with swimming in uncharted waters about the
writing and the publishing business at his/her specific
publisher and with his/her specific editor. Was the book
bought by mistake? S/he wrote one salable book, but can
s/he do it again? What does the editor expect? How do
they work? What does the writer have to do now to help
the book sell? What will the reviewers say? The immediate
family, the in-laws? How will friends react? The pastor
This is a time rife with uncertainties. Daunting
challenges. Because for the first time the writer truly
feels vulnerable. S/he is standing soul naked before the
world, and the world might not like what it sees.
Horrendous pressure here because there are still so many
unknowns to be dealt with and the writer must face them
feeling vulnerable. Writers at this stage of their career
often equate what people say about the book to be what
those people think of him/her.
These writers have not yet learned that this is the major
reason why writing only books you love is vital. Having
immense faith in the work infuses the writer with
strength and courage that minimizes the impact of outside
influences. As my mother used to say, "Faith in what
you're doing puts starch in your knees."
author, in ways
not so different from the new writer, struggles with the
creative side and the business of writing. S/he has sold
book after book, but wears a label of the type of books
s/he writes. When s/he wants to spread his/her creative
wings, s/he's apt to find a less than enthusiastic
publisher. Future sales and position within the
publishing house rely heavily on sales. And in that area,
the writer has little control and the bulk of the
Business concerns alter from those of the newly published
author, but often they only intensify. Sell-thrus (the
percentage of books sold compared to those printed) and
reviews, list placements and book buyer's reactions all
weigh in on what the writer writes next. Readers want
more of the same type of book the writer has given them
previously and they depend on the writer to meet their
expectations. Disappointed readers don't buy books.
Publishers who don't sell books have lousy bottom-lines;
too many, and they're out of business.
These writers are still learning, too. The challenges
inherent to their level of writing and selling.
The point is, when it comes to career ladders, regardless
of what rung you're standing on, you're going to face new
challenges. They never go away, they just change in
nature. And that's okay. Actually, that's a good thing
because with each new step we change and grow. We learn
and grow stronger and that gives us the ability to
courageously step up to the next rung.
I suppose I could have said that it does get easier. So
many authors feel once they've sold that first book, the
hard times are over. But I would have had to lie to you
to do it, and I won't do that. It doesn't get easier.
It's always going to be difficult, just as the
writing--no matter how much you love it--is always going
to be difficult. But it's also fulfilling and
interesting, and you'll never be bored. And there will
come a time when some stranger writes or calls or stops
you on the street and says that what you wrote made a
difference in his/her life. In my humble opinion, there's
a lot to be said for that.
But my opinion isn't what matters in this. What matters
is your opinion. After all, you're doing the work and
facing the challenges, so you must decide.
Is making a difference in
someone's life worth the challenges to you?
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