Saturday, February 09, 2008

Writing Challenges

One of the things aspiring authors don't often think about are the challenges that arise after the first contract is attained. While it may seem that getting published is the ultimate goal when it comes to being an author, I'd argue that the true test of a person's dedication to his or her craft lies in the ability to continue after the first book is sold. Case in point - during the months preceding my first sale, I congratulated three other new authors on the sales of their first manuscripts. As far as I've been able to tell, none of them ever sold another book.


Simply put, achieving publication is a wonderful, exciting and fantastic time in a writer's life. When we get THE call, we dance and scream and rejoice (as we should). Finally, after (sometimes) years of effort and countless rejection, we've been validated. We really are AUTHORS. However, writing isn't just an art. It's a job. It's not just a craft. It's a career. Being successful at it means pushing ourselves to continue past that first sale to the second and third and fourth. It means facing rejection again. It means working with people who have different ideas about our stories and writing styles. It means opening ourselves up to criticism and disappointment.

Perhaps even more than that, it means sacrifice- Sleep, free time, relaxation. We may have full-time careers apart from writing. We may be busy moms and wives; husbands and fathers. We may be homeschooling our kids or hosting Bible studies at our houses. Whatever the case, we all have lives outside of our writing careers. At least we should. Maintaining those things that are important in our lives while pursuing our God-given passion and talent for writing can be a draining (though fulfilling)endeavor. When the reality of the work sets in (revisions, copy edits, line edits, hours in front of a computer trying to make another story work), some authors decide the returns aren't worth the effort.

To be successful at what we do, we must accept early in our careers that it takes time to make money writing, that not everyone is going to love (or even like) our work and that sometimes the people closest to us won't understand the drive to complete the next story, sell the next book, continue the journey. Perhaps those closest to us don't understand that crafting a story is work. Perhaps they see our writing as a hobby - one that pulls us away from more important things (them!).

Whatever the case, to be successful as authors we must anticipate, acknowledge and accept the challenges that come our way. As with any journey God puts us on, we are not promised an easy path. We are only promised comfort and companionship along the way.

I guess my point is - being an author is one of the most fantastic jobs a person can have, but it requires a great deal of self motivation, self confidence and faith. Is it worth it? Of course! Is it easy? No. However, if it is your passion and your gift, what choice do you have but to push forward and strive to achieve all your goals and dreams?

Keep writing!


darlene said...

Sorry for not calling you I spent most of my time, except for two days, in PA with my parents. I had a good time. My dad´s health is not too good and when I was there my mom fell and hurt her back. I needed time I think just to spend with them when I got back to Mexico I then had to help a friend... Another long and sad story.
Again sorry but I still want to celebrate your 40th.

Shirlee McCoy said...

40th? Me?