Sunday, August 28, 2016
“I don't teach writing. I teach patience.”—Richard Bausch
In a recent writing workshop, a woman asked me what was the key to my twenty-seven-year writing career and having 50 books published. My answer is patience. A writing career is a journey. It’s not about the fastest sprinter; it’s about finishing the journey (Think Tortoise and Hare). Getting a book published in the shortest amount of time possible sounds enticing, promising, and fun (the sprint). Books that are written hurriedly seldom lead to long careers or win contracts.
In this modern age, we are inundated with instant gratification. A microwave cooks my eggs in a flash. Text messages ping in a second. Facebook and Twitter allow us to communicate quickly, easily, and effectively. So the sprint nature of our lives makes waiting frustrating. I totally understand this since I’m not shielded from wanting immediate feedback on a submission, either.
On the opposite end of the spectrum is publishing. Nothing moves quickly in publishing. Picture books average about two years to be born. (Daniel Boone Trailblazer’s birthing was a bit longer: four years.) Chapter books and middle grade novels usually require less time because illustrations are not a major part of the incubation.
Publishers receive thousands of submissions annually so many no longer respond unless the editor is interested in offering a contract. Even those positive responses can take up to a year or longer to contact the writer. An editor’s response or lack thereof, is merely one step of the literary journey.
How to develop patience? Keep writing. After you polish one manuscript and submit it, begin another. Keep focused on writing, not publishing. Your writing will improve and somewhere along the journey, a contract will be offered.
Next week, I address ways that keep me in a positive frame of mind, literarily.
Call for submissions for Adult Writers
On the Premises Short Story Contest. "For this contest, write a creative, compelling, well-crafted story between 1,000 and 5,000 words long in which the concept of “darkness” plays an important role. You may interpret “darkness” any way you want–literally, metaphorically, or any other way. Darkness doesn’t have to have a value judgment attached to it, and it doesn’t have to be symbolic in any way, although it can." Prize: Winners receive between US$60 and US$220, and publication.
Deadline: September 2, 2016.
Submission guidelines at http://onthepremises.com/current-contest/