Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Eleven -- it's one more than Ten

I've fretted over this post now for a few weeks. But the pesky thing keeps insisting I write it.

In no way do I want to discourage anyone who truly loves to write and wants to be published. On the contrary, my hope is that this post encourages those of you who get up every day, drink the requisite amount of caffeine and pound away relentlessly at a keyboard. Some of you have been doing this for years -- and still can't seem to break through.

I know how you feel (I've been there!) -- you're on the edge, feeling sick of it all -- revision, submission and most especially, the wicked "R" word that we all HATE with a passion.

I've seen so many writers, after many fervent attempts to get published, simply QUIT. The message of this blog today is -- DON'T.

WHY? Because sometimes the first story doesn't sell, or the fifth or the tenth.

Just ask Beth Revis.

If you haven't heard of her yet, you will soon. She's on the NY Times best seller list for children's chapter books for her debut novel ACROSS THE UNIVERSE. The book, which was only released on January 11th, is a bona fide triumph for Revis.

Now you really want to hurl your computer across the room. You're so tired of hearing about these overnight successes. A debut author on the best seller list? You've been at this for a long time -- when will it be your turn??

Whoa. Don't do anything drastic yet. Not until you hear Beth's story. In a recent interview over at the Apocalypsies blog, her answer to this question blew me away:

Q: This is your first published novel, but have you written other manuscripts?

A: Have I written other manuscripts? *snerk* A giant wave of laughter ripped across the blogosphere. I wrote for ten years--and I wrote ten novels--before I found a novel that was worth publication.

Whaaat? ACROSS THE UNIVERSE was her ELEVENTH completed manuscript? TEN novels under her belt before this one?

I don't know about you, but I find that utterly inspiring. That is what's called perseverance. That's following your passion, no matter what the odds, no matter how many rejections stack up in front of you. Don't you agree?

So if today was the day you were planning on throwing in the towel on your stalled out writing career, maybe you'll think twice. If you have been submitting a manuscript that isn't getting any bites, maybe Beth's story will inspire you to start something new, something fresh. To go one higher.

Start the next story.

I'm guessing Beth Revis is glad that she did.

So tell us, what's inspiring you to stay in the game, no matter what?


  1. This is great to hear. For me, I think it comes down to "the voices in my head" - the characters that will not let me go until I put stories on the page. There are days when it feels like quitting would be easier than pushing on, but any real writer knows that quitting doesn't make the stories go away. They're still there, still demanding your time and energy, still insisting that they need to be written down. To non-writers that probably sounds crazy (and I'll admit it gets crowded in the psyche at times) but that's why I write: my mind will write anyway. I have no choice. Given that, I will keep putting the words down, and revising, and pushing forward because it's impossible to go back.

  2. I love what you said, Susan, about "pushing forward because it's impossible to go back" -- and I agree -- those voices in our heads keep us busy, don't they?

    Thanks for the comment!

  3. Ahhh yes. I love Beth's story. As for me, I just like doing it too much. The work itself is so engaging and challenging that I can't imagine ever giving up.

  4. Yes, Beth's story is truly inspiring! I have followed her blog and journey for a few years now. Her perseverance is so admirable.

  5. It's hard to unspill milk. It would be easier for me to do that than to quit writing. Once I started it was like opening a box that wouldn't shut. A steady stream of words, stories, characters popping out and no matter how fast I was I couldn't shut them back in.
    So I sit with nubby pencil and napkin, pen and paper, computer, or even the a square of toilet paper, yes I'm serious, and an eyebrow pencil and I write.
    Sometimes good stories come. Sometimes not. If you keep writing as Beth did you will hit on a great story. It's been proven.
    Blessings, Barb

  6. Thanks for the great comments -- I agree with all of you. We don't do this because it's easy -- we do it because we HAVE to!