Writers are told constantly that the path to publication is difficult. Having just released my first novel, you better believe I agree. However, no one said difficult might look like this:
10 years, 5 manuscripts, 4 years with Brett & Will living in my head, 3 revisions, 2 #Pitchwars, a hard drive crash, a Sherrilyn Kenyon scholarship, and today, my debut novel is out in the world.
That was my Tweet, celebrating my Book Birthday.
Amid the congratulations and good wishes, one reply stood out. To paraphrase, this person mentioned how long it had taken, and how much stress, and time, and effort it must have also taken to get one book out in the world. They felt that combination was too much. Too daunting. A slog not worth the years and work.
And that’s a valid decision. Writers can write, without having any desire to publish.
Still, I stopped and tried to look at publishing from this different perspective.
When I first started writing, I had no idea what getting an agent and book deal entailed. What no one articulates is that it’s a process. There are a few magical-unicorn writers who are offered a contract on their first manuscript, or offered a three book deal a week after they go on sub. However, for most, the journey is much longer, with some high peaks, and low, low valleys.
I tried, but I couldn’t see my journey through the lens of Sisyphus endlessly pushing a boulder up a hill. There were definitely times that honest critiques, contest comments, or rejection hurt. But even then, writing was never a punishment—although my CPs (critique partners) can tell you all about mini-meltdowns, venting and whining about plot holes and edits.
When yet another round of edits came my way, and steam cleaning the entire house seemed more enjoyable than looking at that manuscript one more freaking time…the feeling passed. As soon as I sat down and started reading through, I remembered what I liked about the story. Why I loved these characters. What was fun about sticking them into the worst possible predicaments, then getting them out again? And I got sucked right back in.
The one constant was faith in my choice—or sheer stubbornness—take your pick. I liked writing. I liked learning a new craft (most days). I liked creating characters and worlds. I liked contest wins and recognition, because those meant people had read my words, and enjoyed them too.
On days when my reserves were maybe a little lower than usual and I was crushed by rejections or harsh critiques, then there were also my mentors, CPs, and writing group. Wherever I turned, I found support. One the occasions I didn’t believe in myself and my choice, they did. They reminded me of my goals. They pushed me to do better and keep dreaming.
So, quarantine aside, I have a celebratory cheesecake and Zoom online debut party to get to!
Janet Walden-West lives in the southeast with a pack of show dogs, a couple of kids, and a husband who didn’t read the fine print. A member of the East Tennessee Creative Writers Alliance, she is also a founding member of The Million Words craft blog. She pens diverse Urban Fantasy and inclusive Romantic Suspense and Contemporary Romance. A 2X PitchWars alum, 2019 Pitch Wars Mentor, and Golden Heart® finalist, her debut multicultural Contemporary Romance, SALT+STILETTOS was just published by City Owl Press. Find her on Twitter: @JanetWaldenWest, Website: http://www.janetwaldenwest.weebly.com
You can find the review of her book SALT+STILETTOS on RDN's review page today: