You Can’t Do This Alone

Let’s talk about Pride.  As a writer slowly breaking in, I think the biggest obstacle to publication is this nasty little bugger of the Seven Deadly Sins.

I will use myself as an example, but feel free to raise your hand if the descriptions fit.  I’ve been writing my whole life.  I majored in English.  I minored in Medieval Studies. (I see I lost a few of you there.)  I then established a career that capitalized on my fabulous writing talents.  One day I decided I would write fiction.  (Here’s where Pride comes in.)

I thought I could do it alone.  I wrote alone, queried without any direction, filled poor agents’ inboxes with garbage.  Was it possible my novel was filled with much of the same?  Rejection, rejection, rejection.  But no worries.  Harry Potter was rejected, like, forty times, right?

My Aha! moment came while reading the Acknowledgments of a book: “Thanks to my many beta readers, my agent who helped me through the quagmire, and my editors who made this book so much better than I ever thought it could be.”

Huh?  Team effort?  Beta reader?  I immediately put aside my writing and started assembling a support system: I enlisted unsuspecting friends to read, I joined two writers’ groups, and I signed on to Twitter.

Twitter was the biggest surprise of all.  There I have met up with celebrated and unsung authors, and I have been amazed by everyone’s goodwill.  Through Twitter, I have received agent referrals, feedback on queries, and critiques from beta readers all over the country.  If not for Twitter, I wouldn’t have found half the online resources that make up my writing Bible: Writer Unboxed, Query Shark, Pub Rants, . . .

So my message is this: As fabulously talented as you no doubt are, you can’t go it alone.  Suck up your pride, take some lumps, build your support group, and from there, my lil’ darlings, will come your success.


1 Comment

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One response to “You Can’t Do This Alone

  1. Anne,

    What you say is very true.

    I think there is a huge difference between writing as an artistic pursuit and writing for publication (which involves the former but requires more effort, compromise, and humility).

    So if you’re proud of how brilliant your writing is, you can decide to never compromise and hope that someone will find your great manuscript in your great grandchild’s basement, 75 years after your death, so you can enjoy posthumous published author status from wherever it is that souls go.

    Or if you’re proud of how brilliant your writing is and want the world to read it before you die, you show it to people, eat humble pie, allow the art merchants to take a pickax to it (trying of course to not “sell out” completely, just a little bit), and schmooze with people who can help you.

    Isn’t that what we’ve done all our lives, anyway? Try our best to be true to ourselves but finding ways to meet the rest of humanity somewhere in the middle? And look at where we are…excited about our words on paper getting out there.


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