Guest blogger Elizabeth Hoban writes on the turning points in a writing career.
One percent inspiration and 99% perspiration was originally scribed by a writer, had to be.
For many years, I perspired when it came to writing. After what seemed like forever, I submitted my clever thriller over and over, and was rejected enough times to compile a lengthy book with Sorry-not-for-us letters. I didn’t understand this disconnect. Mine was a perfectly polished manuscript from the moment I typed The End. Hadn’t I spent enough time on this? Every favorite word and riveting sentence that ever ran through my mind was in that tome. I had whole sections memorized verbatim. I didn’t need to revisit it until I received the galleys, right? I had completed the writing of a book and I deserved to see it published.
When a well-known agent at a prominent writers conference announced to her audience that the odds of winning the lottery were better than getting your first book published, the audience gasped. I may have cried. Before I requested a conference refund, the author/speaker went on to explain that surprisingly the odds in favor of publication grew dramatically with the second novel before a first novel saw publication, then the third before the first two, and so on. My novel, my opus, my first born had taken me ten years to finish, meaning I’d be taking the dirt nap before I could write another book. After condemning everything from my second grade teacher to the alphabet, I begrudgingly put my opus in a drawer and began a second novel. After all, I had raised two kids, owned a second home. In fact, I was a second born and writing may be my second career, so why not, why couldn’t I write a second book?
Two years later, I was amazed to realize how much smoother the entire process went with this child. Like an athlete or musician, I was becoming quite practiced at writing. My grunt work was getting done while I enjoyed the creative process. Dare I say I was becoming a seasoned writer? My therapist thought so, when amidst the conclusion of my second novel, I started a third. Say what?
All writers who persevere have had that moment, that career turning point when they want to sit and rest on their laurels and someone pulls the chair out from under them. Here I wanted to pitch my great book to agents and turns out they were only considering second book ideas at that conference. According to the pitch boss, publishers wanted writers with more than one idea. Needless to say, that conference was my wake-up call. Sometimes the advice that’s the hardest to take is the exact advice you should take.
Both my first book and second book are traditionally published. My second book was the first to receive a publishing contract. Coincidence, I think not. Write on!