I’m going to be a little vulnerable here… but hey, where else is it acceptable to be pour your heart out than on the internet, right? (I’m kidding… seriously, don’t do that)
Before you’re published getting published is all you can think about. It will be the epitome of your career. It will finally make everyone sit up and take notice. It will give your writing credibility. It will be all kinds of awesome.
Yes. That’s partly true. Also, it’s partly rubbish.
Here’s a little secret: getting published is a big deal until you’re actually published. And then you realise, you still have to keep working at your writing and you still have a hell of a lot to learn because being published doesn’t suddenly make you a genius writer. It’s work. It always will be.
Once your book is out there in the world, there will be people who don’t like it. That’s right, some people will stamp on your heart’s work and call it names. If you want to be published, thicken your skin and move on.
However, we tell stories because we’re compelled to. We can’t not write – we simply must. It’s our knee-jerk reaction to everything, so published or not, this is still going to be our response to ideas. Some people paint, some people make music, some people dance, we write.
Ironically, since I’ve been published, I’ve been significantly humbled. From finding horrible spelling mistakes in the printed book (embarassing!), to having distributor problems, to having people with tepid responses to the book, to having a terrible case of writers block, I’ve questioned whether I am any good at all. Yes, this with a publishing contract and the possibility of my next book being sold.
But this is a good thing because publication should not be the end result. Publication is a boon: it brings in some extra money (don’t give up your day job though – seriously, don’t) and it gives your book an audience but you are the same writer you were before you were published. You still have bad writing habits you need to break. You still have stories that don’t come out quite the way you would like. You still rewrite until the story is barely recognisable as that first thing you wrote. You’re just a writer working at your craft.
This post-publication revelation was a surprise to me. Don’t get me wrong, I love the fact that I can walk into my local library and find my own book on the shelf – I don’t think I will ever see that as anything other than amazing. But there is still work to do.
There is this amazing quote by Ernest Hemingway that goes:
We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.
Published or not, we’re all still learning. So…