I look back at my very first attempt at getting published and laugh. It was at least twelve years ago. I’d started writing a story I just knew was great. I wrote maybe eighty pages and started querying publishers and agents. Yup, I did it before the story was finished. I had no idea how to write a synopsis, no idea how to write a query, or even really knew what either of those things were. It’s no surprise no one was interested.
I figured writing wasn’t for me. I put my story on the side and never looked at it again. Fast forward about six years and I got the bug again. I had a story I needed to write. The vampire craze was just starting up and I had the most wonderful idea. I collaborated with my best friend and fellow reading pal for the plot and started writing. I still have that story, though I never finished it. Sometimes I read it just for $hits and giggles. It isn’t horrible, but it isn’t anything to get excited over either.
Fast forward another two years and I had yet another story I had to write. This one was Ruby: Uncut and on the Loose. Unlike my previous attempts (of which there were many more), I went at writing that story like I was killing snakes. I wrote every chance I got. I joined RWA, FF&P, and SOLA. I read articles about writing. I joined online communities. I took workshops. In August of that year, I had 20k written on Ruby’s story when I gave it a break because it was no longer talking to me. By July of the following year, it was finished.
What is this post all about? It’s about what we expect of ourselves. I’m not talking goals, but what we believe we’re capable of and what we’re really capable of. Writing is a crapshoot. Sometimes you’ll have the best story, but it comes out at the wrong time. The publishing industry is fickle and tends to turn on a dime. The important thing to remember is that it’s fickle and tends to turn on a dime. What’s not popular right now might be all the rage in five years. What’s hot now might peter out next year. It’s constantly changing, but you shouldn’t change what you write to fit it.
No. We always hear “write the book of your heart”, right? Well, every book should be the book of your heart. It should come from within. You should love it and hate it and resent it and baby it. It might not be right for the big houses, but it’s right for someone. Lowering your sights gives you more options. Now with self-publishing and what seems like hundreds of small publishers, writers have so many places to go, we can still fulfill our dream of being published, of getting our books to the readers, without compromising the books of our hearts.
Does that make sense? Just because a big house says your story isn’t for them, doesn’t mean it isn’t for someone else. There’s a reader out there waiting for your book. It might change their life. It might make them laugh or cry, but they’re waiting for it. You just have to change your expectations a little to see that they get it.