by Stephen L. Duncan
I’m not going to lie. Preparing for my Debut Post here at From the Write Angle kept me up at night. Literally. It’s 4am as I finally write this.
This is a writing and publishing advice blog, and I’ve got loads of writing and publishing advice to offer, but that Debut Post sets a tone. It sets expectations. And that makes me cry just a little bit.
Okay, not literally on that last bit.
So as I floundered on a topic, I looked back at what I might have needed to hear at the beginning of my own journey and what I needed to say here became obvious. Sure, we’ll get into the nuts and bolts of being a writer and publication in my later posts, and I’ve got some good stuff to share (if not only from the lessons learned from the many mistakes I’ve made), but for now I want to reinforce something that you already know if you taken just one step forward on this path to see your work in print.
I’ve tried my hand at many a trade in my life. From grinding metal in a steel factory to trying cases in front of a jury. Writing is the hardest of them all. As an author, you are an exposed nerve, baring your soul for other’s bemusement or contempt, often getting no better than the peel of an apple gets from a knife. Understand: the lows will be crushing sometimes.
You will feel unworthy. You will believe, as we all have many times over, that this pursuit is in vain. That you don’t have The Right Stuff. That you have faultered in your belief that you have something to offer through the written word. You will question your talent. You will question your faith. You will question your taste. And at least once, you will quit this dream of making it in an industry that undervalues talent even at the highest peak of success.
Because the feeling of being rewarded for your effort outweighs all else, whether you self publish or land the big contract. We dream big, us writers. It’s part of the job description. We reach for distant stars and to do that we must have courage. We must be strong. In our way stands gatekeeper after gatekeeper. The Great Wall of No. We share in each other a camaraderie—a kind of common bond that is only forged through mass rejection and constant defeat.
This can be done. You can achieve. The goal can be reached. Even as cries of the end of this industry echo down upon us from the apocalypse du jour publishing journal, people will keep reading. Even as rejection after rejection accumulates like drifts of snow upon your desk, know that you may still become an author. Even as you retire a defeated manuscript only to begin again, determined to better your effort, to sharpen your raw talent, believe that your words may well be read one day by those who love books. And authors will always be needed. You, like me and everyone else that has stood in a bookstore and imagined their name on the shelf, can make the dream happen. It is within our power.
So long as you are brave.
Stephen L. Duncan writes young adult fiction, including his debut, the first book in The Revelation Saga, due in 2014 from Medallion Press. You can find him blogging on INKROCK.com and on Twitter.