“Some writers hate the idea that luck plays a big part in success, but it does. But I’ve found that the harder you work, the luckier you get.”–Joe Konrath
My path to publication began with a New Year’s Resolution. It went something like this: I think I’ll write a book this year (to the tune of: la la la, won’t that be fun?? ;)) At the time I had no idea how much work it was going to be. I just knew I’d always wanted to write a book & I finally had an idea for a story tickling at the back of my brain.
It was a challenging year, but I wrote the book. I finished! In fact, since I was very much learning to write on the fly, I rewrote it several times. It won some awards…but never sold. Flash forward a dozen years and I’ve written ten books (depending on how you count all those rewrites and partial books ;)).
In that time, I’ve published one haiku, one YA short story, and a novella. 🙂 On the surface that could be very discouraging. All those books. All that effort. Was it time wasted?
No. I learned a lot.
- Learning is never a waste of time.
So I want to talk a little about how do you keep going until you find your luck?
I can’t tell you how many roadblocks and detours I’ve come across on my writing journey. I can tell you there have been a lot. I’ve reinvented myself several times and changed genres. (Or perhaps not so much reinventing as evolving as my interests changed.) All the while, I’ve tried to keep learning and am always trying to stretch myself. I think that’s what Mr. Konrath was referring to in his quote on luck: You can’t control luck, but you can increase your odds of success by working hard.
- You certainly can’t succeed if you give up.
Here are a few other things that have helped me keep going, even through times of discouragement:
- Take yourself seriously.
- Don’t take yourself too seriously.
What do I mean by that? I don’t think of writing as a hobby. This is my job. I work hard at it. I finish my projects. I take myself seriously.
But I also try not to take myself too seriously. Every disappointment can feel like the end of the world, and I have to remind myself that it’s not. The most important things in life are the people in our lives: our family and friends. The kind of people we are. A rejection from an agent or editor (or a bad review!) is just a blip.
- So that person didn’t connect with my story-–I don’t like everything I read either.
- I have readers out there somewhere, and, with time, I’ll connect with them.
So I brush myself off and keep going. 🙂
- Be willing to reinvent yourself.
My goal all along was to publish novels with a traditional publisher. And not just any traditional publisher. I was kind of snobby(?) and wanted to publish with a Big Publisher. Part of not taking myself too seriously was being willing to try a small press. That’s how I got my first novella published. And, you know what? It was a great experience. I learned a lot. I’ve tried the traditional route for my novels and have had many “close calls,” but in the end those deal didn’t come together. I could have continued on with querying and waiting. I could have given up.
(I did consider it–there were some tough moments–but, honestly, how could I give up something I love so much??)
Instead, I decided to consider my options. I wanted my books published, I wanted to connect with readers, and I wasn’t getting any younger. LOL So when the rights to my novella came back to me, I took a chance and self-published it . And I LOVED IT! So, yet again, I’ve reinvented myself. Next month, as an indie author, I’m releasing my first novel, AIRE. (See my new cover?! Squee!! Thank you, Lisa A!)
I couldn’t be happier about taking this new path. Will luck find me? Oh, who knows! 😉 I do know I’ve worked hard and will continue to work hard. I’ll take myself seriously (but not too seriously), and I’ll enjoy the journey.
Do you have a mantra or quote that helps you get through the tough times? Please share in the comments!
Updating to add: Enter to win a free paperback copy at Goodreads!