Monday, May 19, 2014

The Write Path

Today I’m excited to participate in the How I Found The Write Path blogfest, in which I write a note to my pre-published self with advice I’ve learned along the way. It’s to celebrate Carrie Butler’s third blogiversary (congrats Carrie!) She will compile everyone’s letters into a free ebook for writers just starting their journey to publication. Cool idea, right? (And yes, Carrie, you can use my entry in the ebook. J)



To sign up or see who else is participating in the blogfest, click here. Here’s my entry:


To my starry-eyed wannabe writer self,

So, you want to be published? Are you sure? I mean really really sure? Because it’s going to be stressful and hard, and there will be tears. Lots of tears. Basically you will feel all the emotions to the extreme in this journey. Which means there will be happy tears as well. But still. Make sure you want this more than anything because while I think it’s worth it, it will be quite the refiner’s fire.

You still want to go for it? Okay. Here are a few things that might be helpful to know:

·      That first book you think is awesome really is wonderful…the publishing gods just don’t agree. That’s okay. Keep on writing. Write another book. Then another. Then another. Don’t give up. One day you’re going to write The One that will go all the way to bookstore shelves, but it doesn’t mean those first books will be for naught. You’ll learn so much from each one…things you otherwise couldn’t have. Keep going. 

·      Querying sucks. Getting rejections suck. But every writer has to do it. You are no exception. And I know you can get through it. Keep on querying, join online pitch contests, and have faith in your writing and story. One day you’ll get to handpick from more than one offer of representation. Oh happy day.

·      Publishing is slooow. They should almost call it Professional Waiting. Waiting on critique partners, agents, editors, review boards, readers, you name it. Even friends and family will be asking you every week when your book is coming out even though it’s over a year away. You will experience the most patience you’ve ever had to endure. Hang in there.

·      The writing community is amazing. Authors are so giving and supportive of each other, it will blow you away. Seek out other writers online. Read their blogs, respond to their posts. Exchange manuscripts. Lend a hand when needed. Some of your best friends will be writers online that you’ll never meet in real life.

·      You will feel jealous at times. Friends will get agents before you, book deals before you, better book deals than you, super-gorgeous covers, high rankings. This industry is a very public one, where stats on almost every aspect are available by the click of a keyboard. It’s okay. This isn’t a race. Stop comparing. Just keep moving and do your best.

·      Attend writing conferences. Take what you learn and apply it to your writing. Be humble and benefit from those with more experience. Your writing is going to improve quickly by remembering you have a lot to learn and making a sincere effort to learn it. The friendships you make with those at conferences will change your life forever, even beyond your writing life.

·      People will hate your book. They will tell you you’re evil for writing it. They will tear apart your writing, your characters, your world. Brush it off, tell yourself it just wasn’t for them, and move on. Because you’ll get a lot more love than hate, and the readers who get it, who love your stories—they rock.

·      Don’t forget there is more to life than writing. Sometimes the road to publication can be all-consuming. I know it’s hard to break away. But try to. Spend time with your family. Take a vacation. Get some sleep. The writing will be there when you return. 

Most importantly, remember why you write. It’s not to impress anyone. It’s not for the money. It’s not for fame or respect or any other worldly reason. It’s because you love it. Because it makes you happy. You’ll forget that sometimes, but you’ll always come back to it, and that’s what matters.

Good luck!

Ilima Todd, YA author
ilimatodd.com

My love will clothe your bones.

35 comments:

Annalisa Crawford said...

I love it - I'm definitely a professional waiter! Jealousy of others, and people hating your book, are important things to know when you're starting out. Good letter!

Kyra Lennon said...

Excellent advice, Ilima!

Suzi said...

Awesome letter. You covered so many of those big things. And with humor too. The professional waiter thing made me chuckle, among other things. :)

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

That's right - the book just wasn't for them. Ignore the haters.
And fortunately it's not a race, because this slow writer would come in last every time.

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

That last paragraph is perfect! Reminding ourselves why we write - because we love it! - is something we should do every day, especially as we play the "Professional Waiting" game. :)

Madeline @ The Shellshank Redemption

Donna K. Weaver said...

Evil for writing it? Takes all kinds, I guess. I had one reviewer say I'd used "foul language" in a clean romance. *sigh*

Love this premise, btw.

Emma Adams said...

Professional Waiting - ha, so true! Great letter! :)

Catherine Stine said...

Yes, good advice, always to keep in mind WHY you write!

Morgan said...

Okaaaay… seriously? This is the perfect letter. Perfect. It says it all. Totally made me a bit teary-eyed too, Ilima. I need to keep this bookmarked. <3

Chrys Fey said...

"To my starry-eyed wannabe writer self" . . . I love that! And I love how you opened your letter. All of your advice is spot on!

Gina Stoneheart said...

Great advice, Llima! You are absolutely right about the writing community. It has been such an incredible journey over these past couple of years and everyone has been so nice and supportive.
This was such a great way for all of us to share our publishing experiences with one another. Glad to be reading your letter here and being a part of the blogfest!

Dean K Miller said...

Great points to consider, Ilima! So many truths and the positives far outweigh the potential negatives! I love celebrating other author's successes and those friends you've never met...sometimes they're the best!

Nick Wilford said...

Lovely post with some really sound advice. One of my biggest tips for myself was also not to pin all my hopes on that first book. It's usually just a stepping stone to much greater things.

Cortney Pearson said...

So many great tips, Ilima! I especially love the one about writing being consuming--because that's my biggest struggle right now, lol! Love this letter to yourself! :D

(Also, good song!)

Johanna Garth said...

Why is publishing so slow? It's OMG unbelievably slow. And yet we all want it. There's some sort of dating metaphor there that I'm going to use when my daughter decides she doesn't hate boys anymore.

Gina Gao said...

This is really great! Thanks for sharing.

www.modernworld4.blogspot.com

Carrie Butler said...

Yes! I might have to tack some of these up on my wall...

Thank you so much, Ilima! <3

Tammy Theriault said...

This was amazing girl. Tears lead to trails that you slip right through because you've done it before and are seasoned. You'll build that callous skin. Hmmmm...I sound hungry. I think I'm hungry for revenge because I can't crack a joke at you to get you back. Doh!!! It's just too sweet!!

Michelle D. Argyle said...

So many things I would tell myself too. Love this. My suggestion is to print it up and hang it somewhere you'll always see it. But then again, maybe you don't forget stuff like I do, lol.

Theresa Milstein said...

Great list! I like your advice to live too. We need material to write, right?

There are publishing gods? What will appease them?

Crystal Collier said...

Amen to that love/hate thing. I think that's the hardest part, having people rip on your work like its a scrap they found on the side of the road. It's true though, there are haters, and it's the lovers you should focus one. Great thoughts!

Emily R. King said...

You wrote this just for me! :) Great job, Ilima. Thanks for sharing.

Leigh Covington said...

LOVE this post! I just want to repeat what Emily said cause this is just what I needed! Thank you Ilima!

Liz Blocker said...

SO much good stuff here! "and there will be tears. Lots of tears. Basically you will feel all the emotions to the extreme in this journey." - oh my lord yes. So true! And I love calling publishing Professional Waiting, LOL.

Tyrean Martinson said...

Professional Waiting . . . Bwaha. Yes, so true.

And, yes, remember why you're writing. :)
Wonderful letter!

Stephanie Faris said...

Publishing is slooooooooooooooooow. Preach it, sister! That's the best advice you could give a newbie, for sure.

Katie Doyle said...

Beautifully written and so spot on, especially the part about not everyone liking your book. Great advice to give to any new writers seeking publication, no matter traditional or self-publishing.

Christine Danek said...

I love Professional Waiter!! So, so true!! Ahh, the waiting is the worst! Love it!

Elizabeth Hein said...

You are so right. Querying does suck and waiting is awful, but it sounds like you've made peace with it - at least a little. Great letter.
Elizabeth Hein - Scribbling in the Storage Room

Rachel Schieffelbein said...

This is all great advice! Professional waiting. I hate how right that is. ;-)

Loni Townsend said...

Great letter with a lot of good advice. And I agree, the writing community is amazing.

Mark Murata said...

Yes, some people will consider you evil. A team of reviewers in the Seattle area criticized my novel for not being politically correct enough. One person suggested I add a Buddhist to the ending. Huh?

Botanist said...

Lots of good points. It's hard not to envy other writers' successes but it is so true what a supportive community this is.

Heather M. Gardner said...

Oh, yeah. It's cause we love it. How could I forget?
:)

Great post.

Thanks for sharing.
Heather

Nicole said...

Love all of these points, Ilima. Especially that opening paragaph! Extremes of emotions for sure. :)

I'm really enjoying all the Write Path posts.