I have loved writing stories since childhood. I finished my first "novel" (which was more of a novella) when I was about 13, and I proudly bound it with a three-hole-punch and some yarn and presented it to my father. He praised it lavishly, got misty-eyed when he saw it was "dedicated" to him, and told me one day I would be a published author.
Since that day, I was determined I would be. I wrote and wrote and majored in English and creative writing in college. But I didn't really get serious about publication until the last year. I took an incredible writing class, found a critique group, began learning about the publishing world, and got more consistent in my writing. My third novel is now with beta readers, awaiting some final revisions.
My husband has been incredibly supportive through the whole process. But he's a practical guy, and the other day he asked me a question I hadn't even considered.
"What will you do if you don't get published?"
It made me sit back. I honestly hadn't considered it, but I knew it was something I should. It's something every writer should, I think. Because, let's face it, the odds of getting an agent, selling your book, and getting great sales are pretty long.
There are thousands and thousands of people in the United States alone attempting to write novels. There are thousands of writing blogs where some of those people are attempting to get their name out. Agents receive hundreds to thousands of queries a year and take on maybe one or two clients from those. Some of the books they take on make the rounds of publishers and never see the light of day. Some of the ones that do get overlooked by readers.
So I knew I had to really think about what my husband had said-- what if I'm one of those thousands who never get published? The first thought I had: keep writing.
I can't imagine a future where I'm not writing, published or not. I love it. Once I get a story in my head, I can't stop squirming inside until it's on the page. Yes, I do want to share those stories with people. Yes, it'd be nice to make a little money after all the work I've put in. But there are lots of different roads to publication, so if one road dead ends, I've still got options.
And in the end, when I look at my current novel, I can acknowledge proudly that I have written a good book. Maybe not a great book; definitely a flawed book as it stands now. But it's the best thing I've written so far. I loved writing it, and I enjoy reading it. My writing improved through it. It might not be the book that gets me published. But I'm not planning on giving up-- I've got my whole life to pursue my dream of sharing the books I write with the world.
I'm putting in the work. I'm studying the craft, I'm making connections, I'm getting my work torn apart to make it better. And I love it enough to stick with it through the tough and discouraging times. I can reach my dream, but it was encouraging to honestly ask myself what I would do if I didn't reach it.
So, my friends, think about it. What will you do if you don't get your current dream of publication? Keep writing and keep trying? Pursue a slightly different dream-- publication with a small press, or self-publication? Decide that you love writing just for itself and won't pursue publication after all? There are no right or wrong answers-- just the answer that resonates with you.
And once you know the answer, you just might find a little more confidence in yourself.
And now for something completely different...
Don't forget, you can win a critique from agent Sarah LaPolla and editor C.A. Marshall, and help five kids in Ghana get an education! This is Daniel. He wants to be a doctor, and is in charge of the first aid kit at New Life International Orphanage (with some help from the caretakers, of course). Please help Daniel reach his dream! Even if you can't donate, spreading the word can help these children immensely.