Aspiring Authors: Take an Aspirin and Call me in the Morning
First of all, aspiring authors. Let me tell you this. It’s no coincidence that the word, "aspiring" begins with the word, "aspirin." This journey merits plenty of it.
Most writers I know (including myself) have insecurities. What made the difference for me in going from writer to author was the ability to ignore those insecurities. Notice I didn’t say I cast them off; you can’t get rid of them completely. Nope. When the insecurity monster sat on my shoulder, whispering, “You’re never going to do this, you know.” I’d tell it to take a long walk of off a short pier. Got my revenge by writing more and better.
So, my advice? Work on craft. Be open to less-than-stellar feedback; although hard to hear, some will be on target. However, also be confident in your own voice—you know what’s right and what isn’t. Believe in your book. Ignore “the odds.”
Work and rework your book. Foster your connections in the industry. Rework your book again. Build a support network for yourself. Don’t give in to fear. Not in your dealings with industry professionals. And, more importantly, not on the page.
The first time I ever entered a “first pages” activity at an SCBWI event, I submitted some silly PB manuscript. It was read out loud and then there was the dreaded pause. Long enough that I celebrated a couple of birthdays. Until the most prominent editor said, “This is the cheesiest thing I’ve ever heard. Horrible. Some terrible throwback to the 70’s or something.”
Okay. So not what I’d hoped for, exactly. But, I did not despair. I sat back and thought about it, ultimately deciding to write novels. And you know what? I had to write a lousy one before I was able to write a good one. I gave myself the time to learn, and I didn’t submit until I knew the work was ready. Looking back on those “cheesy” stories, I was really just avoiding going deep, afraid to put emotion on the page.
Lastly, I know this is a tough one, folks, but try not to focus on wanting to be published. I think that when we focus on the contract and not on the work, we diminish our chances of that kind of success. Honestly, I never thought I’d get published. No, I really didn’t. Oddly enough, I think that’s why I ended up with a contract. Because I focused so much on the work. Writing to my strengths and revising to my weaknesses.
Believe me. I if can do this, so can you. I do ask you, though, to never take the power that faith in yourself has lightly. It’s just as important as talent or perseverance. I’ve been there—believe me. I know that sometimes it feels like wading through glue, but I’d like to help you on your journey. So take that aspirin I talked about, and call me in the morning.
Thank you so much for visiting, Lynda! Don't forget to check out her new book and her Twitter!