Making It as a Writer

I've been in the middle of edits lately, as well as drafting my next book, and the combination has caused some *cough* most *cough* other responsibilities to fall by the wayside. Like blogging.

The other day, I was talking with one of my critique partners who is also debuting next year (the fabulous Jennifer Park) about the responsibilities that come with publishing. We've both wanted to be writers since we were kids, and we've been working toward getting published for years. Our conversation turned to all the things we never realized when we first set out to write a book. We laughed about how having a book deal doesn't mean you've made it as a writer. Then we started to wonder what does.

When has a writer arrived?

Let's break it down. You have an idea. You research writing, read some books about plotting, read blog posts about pantsing, download beat sheets. You jot down ideas at all hours of the day and night, and you think about your book during meetings or church (whoops!). You decide to do NaNoWriMo or you set pen to paper for three years, or something in between. Then, finally, after all this time and thought and effort, YOU WRITE A BOOK.

Holy bleep. You wrote a book.

You've made it!

And you have! Except, then you learn that you need to get critique partners and beta readers to read it. You join a writing group, go to meetings, and learn more and more, incorporating all of it into your beautiful WIP. You revise a few a bunch of times until it's as good as you can imagine it being, around, say, draft #9.

Then you realize you need an agent. You research querying, write a thousand drafts of a query (with the help of your CPs), research agents, query, query, query. Rejection, rejection, rejection. Maybe you get an R&R. Maybe you enter some pitch contests. And during ALL OF THIS, you really should be writing your next book. Your brain keeps telling you that, anyway.

And then, one day, you refresh your email for the hundredth time and see a message--THE MESSAGE--from an agent! YOU HAVE AN AGENT! You've arrived!

Except, now your agent has feedback. You revise it again (hopefully only once, but maybe more and more and more). By draft #13, you're done. It's pretty and perfect and you're done.

Then you go on submission. Rejection, rejection, rejection, R&R.

Maybe this book never sees the light of day and you have to start over with a new book. Or maybe the R&R works out! You get an offer! YOU HAVE A BOOK DEAL! You've arrived!

Except, now there are more edits (developmental, line, copy; first pass pages). By draft #17, it's actually ready to go. You get a cover. You get ARCs (advanced reader copies). You buy swag and have giveaways and plan your launch party.

Then you debut. Holy bleep. Your baby is in the world. You are a published author.

YOU HAVE ARRIVED!

Except now, you have sales to worry about. And that next book to write. And the actual work of publishing, including conferences and proposals to teach classes. You're worrying about reviews and bloggers and whether your sales will entice another publisher (or the same publisher) to want another of your books. Which you still need to write.

And all of this time, you're still wondering when will I arrive?

It's an endless cycle... if you let it be.

But remember what you wanted when you first set out: you wanted to be a writer! And with that in mind, the answer is a lot simpler than we make it when we're in the throes of publishing or querying. It's easy to get caught up in every milestone and look at the success of other authors and think that that has something to do with our journey. But it doesn't. It really, really doesn't.

Do you know when you made it? The moment you wrote "CHAPTER ONE."

So congratulations!

You've arrived.
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