Forgive my two month hiatus. It was the result of a combination of the holidays, a grand tour of the southwestern US, a long, deep, terrible chest cold, IT issues, and mid-winter hibernation instinct.
Yesterday, I recommitted to my 2015 writing goal, by taking a workshop on preparing to publish.
I cannot recommend it or her book “What Every Author Should Know” highly enough.
Since I started writing fiction 4 years ago, I’ve been avoiding thinking about publishing.
Writing a book is like hiking up a large mountain. You keep your eyes trained on the ridge ahead of you.
“There’s the top,” you tell yourself. “I’m almost there. I’m almost done. I’ll be done just as soon…”
As soon as I’ve completed the story.
As soon as I’ve revised and edited.
As soon as I’ve fixed that one scene.
As soon as I’ve scrubbed away that one character.
As soon as I’ve rewritten the last four chapters.
As soon as I’ve finished the 10th revision.
Every time you reach the ridge, there’s another one just ahead. Just a little higher. Just a little farther.
But now that I’ve finished my book and delivered it into the hands of my early readers, I have to admit something I’ve become increasingly aware of. The last few years have felt like a mountain, but they’re only the foothills.
The mountain is still ahead. Publishing.
While the mountain is largely obscured to those who are on the trail, it is fully visible to your friends and family who are not making the climb.
They helpfully stand at the bottom and say things like, ‘When are you publishing your book?” or (my favorite) “When will you be a rich and famous writer?” (Seriously, just because I’m climbing a mountain doesn’t mean anyone’s going to crown me king of it when I get to the top).
I haven’t avoided the topic completely. I just haven’t delved.
It’s obvious that so much is changing in the world of writing and publishing. Self-publishing. Agents. Print on demand. E-books. When you’re trying to get a good story right, and get it on the page, the changing landscape of modern publishing is enough to make your head spin.
There’s so many routes up the mountain and so many people climbing them that it’s easy to find wild success and wild failure stories for every path. But I think I’m finally ready to tackle the mountain. I’ve decided (for now) to try a traditional path. Networking. Queries. Agent. Editor. Publisher. Sales team.
With a different project, I might choose a different path. But this seems like the right route for this time and this book.
One of the exercises we did for the workshop was to imagine two different outcomes both set in the future five years after publishing.
The first was our wildest fantasy of our lives as published writers. Fame? Fortune? Accolades? Independence? (My fantasy involves Emma Thompson swooping in to insist she direct a film version of my book and mentor me in screenwriting).
The second outcome is the reality of what we expect. To be able to pay our bills? To write a sequel? To teach in an area of expertise?
Looking at the two futures side by side, Vanasse encouraged us to look at the one item on the list that was the same in both futures. In other words, in your wildest dreams and your most grounded reality, what is the same? This will tell you why you are writing.
For me it was this: Five years after I publish my first book, I want to be working on my second or third or fourth.
No matter what, I want to keep writing.
So, it looks like the ridge just ahead is destined to be a part of my permanent landscape, and when I reach it, there will always be another one, a little further, a little higher.
There will always be edits to make, continuity errors to fix, queries to send, synopsis to write, and revision upon revision upon revision upon revision.
This thought is both exhilarating and exhausting.
But at least I know now – while there may be resting places, there is no summit. There will always be another ridge to climb. The mountain goes up forever.
I’ve wiped off the sweat and had a drink of water. I’ll need to camp here for one more revision before I head toward the next ridge, and the one after that, and the one after that.
Except this time, I know what to expect.