Five Things I Wish I’d Done
I’m seventy. Imagine yourself my age, looking back on the decades of endless revisions, query letters, and the occasional publication and literary prize. Art for art’s sake and all that. You know how to write a novel, but agents tell you the one you’re sending around is not what they’re looking for. One agent says he’s only “taking on” writers under forty.
Write Your Novel And Don’t Give Up
Listen to me. No matter what your age, you can write a novel. You can publish a novel, and find readers who will appreciate your work. Wherever you are, it’s not too late, but just in case you’re young enough and willing to listen to some free advice, here’s what I wish I’d done:
- Written 500 words every day, rain or shine;
- Not wasted a decade on a novel that I thought I should finish, simply because I’d couldn’t face “being a quitter;”
- Not revised my manuscript one more time when an agent told me she hadn’t “fallen in love” with the characters;
- Listened to my heart about what was good and worthy in my writing;
- Made up my mind to get my book published, no matter what.
You probably think I’m kidding about the last comment, but I’m dead serious. Two years ago on New Year’s Eve, I vowed to find a publisher for both my novel, MONTPELIER TOMORROW, and my short story collection, BONDS OF LOVE & BLOOD. I was proud of both manuscripts and had spent a decade polishing them. I didn’t want to self-publish because I didn’t think I had the skills to do my own promotion. But I faced an insurmountable obstacle. Despite repeated efforts, I still didn’t have an agent.
I’m here to tell you that if you want to publish your novel, you must plant the idea that your book is worthy of publication, and then you must stop at nothing until you hold it in your hands. Many websites, including this one, can help you learn how to write a novel, but only you can put the building blocks in place to guarantee success. I have an MA in Creative Writing and a Certificate in Novel Writing from Stanford University. I knew a good bit about the writing craft, and I’m eager to share my successes and failures, including what I am still learning about marketing fiction.