I was walking with a co-worker the other day (one I don’t know well) and at one point the conversation went like this:
Her: “Didn’t I read somewhere that you’re a published author?”
Me: “Yes, I am.”
Her: “How did you go about getting published? My sister-in-law wants to publish a YA book but she heard getting published is really hard.”
Me: …Nothing. As in crickets.
This co-worker is absolutely the sweetest thing ever! So I tried, I really did, to come up with an answer to satisfy her curiosity, but I had nothin’. My tongue was tied, but the thought that exploded in my brain was how different writers are from the non-writers of the world. We’re wired differently. Like really different from the non-writers in the world.
I wanted to say that if one is writing just to get published, she’s missing the best part of the journey. Getting to the destination of publication wouldn’t be nearly worth the trip if not for everything that comes before it. Even the rejections and bad reviews.
I wanted to say that wanting to be published and wanting to write are not synonymous with one another. Without the writing, the publication cannot happen. Start with writing, keep on writing, and never stop writing. Then, and only then, will publication even be a possibility.
I wanted to say that there isn’t only one way to get to publication, but for every writer on the planet there is yet another route to get there. If there were one tried and true method, everyone who set out to write a book would be published.
I wanted to say that publication is where the real insecurities and headaches begin. It’s at that place where a writer is at their most vulnerable and raw state. It’s there where the sleepless nights and gnashing of teeth occur, our brains churning round and round like a squirrel in a cage because our baby is out there for all the world to criticize. And I for one am of the mind that people can say what they want about me, I’ll get over it, but please, oh please, don’t criticize my babies. That slices right through my mama’s heart.
I wanted to say that publication isn’t the be-all end-all. It’s a small part of the joy of writing. It’s a small piece of the whole. And a very small piece at that. But if one writes simply to be published, it’s pretty much a sure thing that the satisfaction will be less than,and shorter lived, than what was expected.
I wanted to simply say, “Write. And never, ever, ever, no matter what, stop.”
I wanted to say that there are so many steps that need to come before the publication that wondering how to get published before doing everything else is like planning for high school graduation day before you have your children. The goal of making sure your kids graduate from high school is a worthy one, but think of all you would miss out on if that were your sole focus.
What I did say, finally, when I was able to untangle the knots from my tongue, was:
“Our mile walk isn’t nearly long enough to give you an answer, but the first thing I would tell her is to join a writer’s group, in person or online. And take it from there.”
Let’s talk. Have you had a non-writer ask you a writing question that reinforced how different writers are from non-writers? What was the question and how did you respond? What would have told the person in my case?
Oh! And don’t forget, NaNoWriMo starts in less than two days. Are you ready? Let me know if you want to be writing buddies during November. :)