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Posts Tagged ‘New York Times Bestseller’

Well patient writers, those who have been following this blog waiting for me to return to useful pieces of advice, this is finally a post for you. Later this week on a collaborative blog I will be discussing four writing myths (check out my posts on Fridays: http://writeovertheedge.blogspot.com/). Until then I would like to highlight one of the myths: ‘You have to make a living to be a real author.’

This is a standard that can easily bash in our writing-filled heads as we try to achieve something that is, well, nearly impossible for beginners. Unless a miracle occurs or you are one of the lucky ones with connections (both of which are valid possibilities), a writing career is not born overnight. Nor should it be.

I could tell you to go back and look at my beginning blog posts to see how far I have come. I won’t. Please don’t. It is plain embarrassing. You can watch the same type of growth in my unpublished stories and my published novels throughout the years. Growth came in failures, in successes, and through a lot of learning. It came in bad blog posts, in good ones, and in epic ones. It came in discovering how I liked to write and what people liked to read. It came in budding self-confidence and in an ever-expanding comprehension of the realm of publishing. Growth came and is coming. I should not have been a New York Times Bestseller when I published Issym in 2009. I had no following and I lacked the energy with which to withstand criticism and accept praise. Just as my writing was growing so was I. Today I have the endurance with which to stand much more, the skill with which to wade through conflicting reviews of my books, and the passion to keep going even in the dry spots. The seventeen-year-old author of Issym could have wanted to be famous within weeks of publication. She wasn’t ready.

So, my friends, do not see writing without profit or applause as failure. See it as a means to an end. Every word you write, every article you publish, and every book you finish is growth–with or without accolades. Profit may come, but it should never be the sole reason we write.

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I really enjoy reading books by masterful authors, those artists and craftsmen who have have thought out every angle of their story with the care a potter shows his creations. If something happens in a master’s tale, you know it has significance–even if it seems amazingly insignificant. I have tried to put the same careful thought into Mark of Orion, examining the impact a single scene has on the overarching point. And if it is insignificant–no matter how much I love the concept–I need to rip it out (characters and all).

This standard has made editing my latest novel a unique challenge. But I am certain the hours I put into painstakingly correcting drafting errors of judgement will serve me well in the future. As a child author I wrote without much foresight. I tried to have foresight, but–as a newbie–I made choices that were probably not the best for the chapter, novel, or series. My first series still came out beautifully, but perhaps not masterfully. Truth is, even if my next series becomes a New York Times Bestseller and I am renowned worldwide for my talent and foresight, I will still need to work on my craft. When an author stops striving to grow in his abilities, it is time for retirement. There is always something to learn.

Life should be an art-form too, where we enjoy our labor, recognize our short-comings, and revel in our successes. Lately I have been struck by the truth that life is a continual journey of learning. We have the opportunity to be overwhelmed by that learning or embrace and enjoy it. I vote the latter.

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