Monday, May 14, 2012

Be Brave

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.

Be brave.

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.

Be brave.

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.

Be brave.

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.

Be brave.

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 and on Twitter.


Jean Oram said...

Up until 4AM, my gosh. If I wrote a post at that time of the day it would all be jibberish punctuated by "dsdssdsdssddddddddd" as my head hit the keyboard.

You make a great point. We do need to be brave. We need to suck it up and wear armour, but at the same time be open and kind...and...oh man. Where did I leave my big girl pants?

Welcome, Stephen.

Kela McClelland said...

This was a great first post. Some great advice in there, be brave, it's perfect. Hope you have a great Monday. :)

Lynn Proctor said...

sounds like a pretty wise person!

Matt Sinclair said...

Bravely said and done.

Jemi Fraser said...

Being brave is not one of my better skills - but I'm working on it! :)

Stephen L. Duncan said...

Thanks for the warm welcome! Obviously, there are more courageous endeavors than attempting to get published, but it does take perserverance in the face of a lot of adversity, and that is certainly a kind of bravery.

Afsaneh said...

Bravery is something I really need to develop.
The past week has been so fraught with frustrated tears and self-doubt that one family member thought (very seriously) that I'm suffering from depression.
Lord, I hope not - how inconvenient!
But, they were just off-days and though I know I'll probably experience them again, I know I'll be over them and in the end, any tears will be those of joy!
Thank you for reminding me of that!

Tracy Bermeo (A2Z Mommy) said...

Ahhhh, bravery. Very well said and excellent advice. Looking forward to reading more from everyone!
A2ZMommy and What’s In Between

Luce said...

A great post, Stephen.

It's a huge leap of faith to strive so publicly, and in the face of such odds, and sometimes it's hard to know whether we're being brave, or simply delusional.

Thanks for coming down on the side of brave.

Charlie Eve Ryan said...

Awesome and so true!

Debra McKellan said...

Hurray! Very encouraging words. :)

C. Issy said...

Thank you for writing this-- it was powerful and wonderful and inspiring. (now you set our expectation really high, though...)

Edward J. Godwin said...

Just at the time I needed an uplift, I came across this blog. Thank you. An author's growth is indeed a wild emotional ride.

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