Advice for aspiring authors

Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.

― Thomas A. Edison

Have you ever considered giving up?  Good news, you are not alone.

I’m going to give you a few example of others who almost pitched in the towel and left the writing to others. .  . almost. Thank goodness they didn’t give up.

Most recent, during an interview with Writers Digest, author Joe Hill (The Heart Shaped Box, Horns, NOS4A2, and the short story collection 20th Century Ghosts) talked about his journey toward publication.  He didn’t tell his agent who he was because he wanted his writing to stand on its own merit. In other words, he didn’t want anyone to publish his novel because he was Stephen King’s son.

The list is long and varied.  Mystery author Agatha Christie collected 500 rejections in four short years.

The quality of the message associated with rejection is also often disheartening and horrific.  Her’s a paraphrase of a rejection received by author Zane Grey, “you have no business being a writer and should give up”.

Sometimes the ability to choose the correct or enthusiastic publisher or agent eludes us, but the person who believes in our work as much as we do is out there.

The authors of “Chicken Soup for the Soul” were informed that anthologies don’t sell.  Can you believe that?  Thank goodness they didn’t.

C.S.Lewis collected 800 rejections for “The Chronicles of Narnia”, and  Margaret Mitchell received 38 rejections for “Gone with the Wind”.

Author Paul Coelho sees a limited 800 copies of “The Alchemist” sell, but with a new publisher, the number climbs to 75 million in print.

Fourteen agencies reject Stephanie Meyers “Twilight” which went on to spend 91 weeks on the NYT.

L. Frank Baum, told his works was “too radical a departure from juvenile literature”, finally sells “The Wonderful Wizard of  OZ”.

Louisa May Alcott was told by a publisher, “you should stick to teaching” which, thankfully she did not, and is still in print 140 years later.

Even the esteemed Beatrix Potter, the beloved author of “Tales of Peter Rabbit” was rejected so often she chose to self publish.  From its original 250 copies to 45 million.

The Christopher Little Literary Agency collects twelve rejections for author J.K.Rowlings’  “Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone”, until the eight year old daughter of a Bloomsbury editor insists on being allowed to finish reading the manuscript.  This led the way for this series of books which now has 450 million books in print.

The message here is clear.  Rejection is a part of the writing life.  We all experience it in different ways, at different levels, and with or without rancor.  But persistence is the key to success.  The willingness and the ability to come back and try just one more time can be the difference between life an author, and life wishing you’d finished the last book.

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I had a dream…

Last night I slept with the President of the United States.  Okay – Homeland Security no need to worry it wasn’t Obama and it wasn’t real – you don’t need to monitor my phone and email correspondence – It was only a dream.

In all honesty, I had a fantastic dream in which I met the President, not knowing at the time of his career and public persona.  We ended up building this wonderfully romantic relationship – a relationship that was…wait for it…a dream come true.  (snicker snicker) I met him while he was on vacation and surprisingly not surrounded by FBI agents. He looked a bit like Joe Manganiello (yum), Van Diesel, and talked like Craig Ferguson (What can I say it’s my dream and I love me a Scotsman with a brogue); we danced and had picnics in the forest, and shared wine on a boat, and fell deeply in love.  I vaguely remember after we consummated our relationship, meeting his wife and children but lucky for me they were okay with the affair and adopted me into their family.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get any state secrets because my dog woke me up at 6:00am to go outside, and forever dashed my hopes and dreams of staying with the President.

I share with you the oddity of my dream because afterwards I tried to go back to sleep to continue with it, but sleep eluded me.  Instead, I started to draft an outline of the story and put things in order of how I’d want things to happen and eventually how things would end.  I full heartedly plan to make a novel out of this enhanced REM cycle and hope it’ll go best seller.

Several months ago, I was working on a plot issue in a contemporary romance I’ve been babying into existence.  I woke up from a dream and my first thought of the day was…”It has to take place over Christmas.”  Immediately I retrieved my laptop and started outlining a new plot and within an hour, I had fixed my issues.

I know psyche is probably having a drunken conversation with my unconscious mind and meshing in some kind of meaning to my dream, like trying to tell me I need a powerful authoritative man in my life.  However, I know that finding a man like my Mr. President, is more myth than reality I have to believe it’s the writer in me that demands to be unleashed, the creativity that gets bottled up in my daily life needs to find an outlet to tell me the subject of my next novel.

I remember hearing somewhere the Stephen King has often been inspired by his dreams, or in his case nightmares. In an interview with an author, I can’t remember who, explained that they received their best inspiration while taking a shower.  It was such a powerful motivator for him that he started showering 6-8 times a day.

Where does unconscious inspiration find you?  Do your dreams ever speak to you?

Michelle – Er…In my dreams…Mrs. President