When it comes to writing, there’s a lot to be gleaned from toddlers learning to walk. Have you noticed they don’t seem to care that they’ll fall? Again and again, they launch out on wobbly legs, their faces set in determined lines. Driven by an inner purpose, they never stop to question whether they should be walking, and no one can tell them to stop trying. Once they begin learning to walk, there’s no going back.
If I’d paid more attention to toddlers, I’d probably have found my way into print much sooner.
Looking back, I can see that certain steps led to my signing with an agent and contracting with Harbourlight for publication of DawnSinger and WayFarer, the first two books of the epic fantasy series, Tales of Faeraven. It seems so obvious a path, in retrospect, but at the time I traveled it I couldn’t always see where it led. Some of the steps even seemed to lead away from my destination as a published, agented author, but all were necessary.
- My dream died. I had grandiose ideas of what it would mean to be a published author. It didn’t matter who my audience was; they existed for me. When I lost what would be my first nonfiction book contract due to a problem within the publishing house, I gave up my dream in discouragement.
- Self-discipline became my focus. As a Christian, I follow the Bible which teaches that self-control is one of the qualities that leads to a fruitful life. Establishing a good work ethic paved the way for the sacrifice writing success demands.
- I stopped obsessing over getting published. I took up a long-abandoned project (DawnSinger). Publication no longer mattered as much as telling the story that had been trapped inside my mind for far too long. That shift in focus gave me the patience I needed to complete and polish my novel.
- I joined a local writing group. If I hadn’t done this, I wouldn’t have gained the support and self-confidence that saw me through the submission process. I also met friends who would later pull me through a dark time.
- I learned to invest in others. As an antidote to the self-absorbed writing career I’d at first sought, I decided to help other writers put the word out about their novels. That was my main goal for promoting other writers, but it netted me favor that helped me when my own book released. It also helped build my platform and taught me how to promote.
- I surrendered my dream. When another contract fell through, I was left for the second time with a shattered dream. Because I had already released my own ideas of publication, this loss hurt but didn’t crush me.
- I stepped up when things looked darkest. I rallied and submitted DawnSinger to Harbourlight, the publisher that just three months later offered me a contract. Had I given up in discouragement when my previous contract ended, I’d have missed both publication and signing with the agent who agreed to represent me.
It would be easier if I could give you a formula that would produce results, but writers find their way in the publishing maze in a variety of unique ways. Just remember not to think about falling, and each time you fall, stand up again.