ON WRITING

“It’s very easy to quit during the first ten years of writing. Nobody cares whether you write or not, and it’s very hard to write when nobody cares one way or the other. You can’t get fired if you don’t write, and most of the time you don’t get rewarded if you do. But don’t quit.” Andre Dubus

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Wednesday, 21 May 2014

How I Found the Write Path

Click here if you're looking for my Write...Edit...Publish post, but I hope you'll check out my letter to my newbie-writer self before moving on.

Hello everyone!

My post this week is for the How I Found the Write Path blogfest. Go here to learn more.


Letter to ten-years-younger Denise

(((Happy dance)))

After years of carrying your dreams around in your pocket, it's time to get pen to paper!

Well, Denise, when you started out on this writing gig, you had a dream of eventually writing a novel, didn’t you? But who realised it was going to be such a long and difficult journey! Remember how confident you felt at the outset that the world was waiting on tiptoe for the beautiful prose that would drip off your quill! How many years had you spent reading books? You could do that, right? Wrong! 

Your first victim was New Woman magazine. New magazine; surely they’d be looking for new writers? Wrong again! What to do with that first rejection? Well, hide it in a drawer and try not to think about it too much of course. How embarrassing to be turned away on your very first submission. It was time to think a bit harder about that dream.

Give up? Not an option. So, what to to?

Do a few more courses on writing. 

  • That Diploma of Journalism was pretty handy for learning how to pitch. 
  • Those creative writing courses helped get other opinions on your work. 
  • How-to books opened your eyes big time. Who knew there were so many books to nudge novices along the writing journey? You read a heap, but your go-to, can’t-do-without book is, was, and ever will be ‘Writing the Breakout Novel’, by Donald Maas. The first time you used one of his writing prompts, you hit pay dirt. You entered that short story into a competition—and came second! 

(((Happy dance))) 

That dream was getting so close you could feel it, couldn't you? You were getting the idea of this writing gig. Here's where you adjusted the plan. You were going to keep writing short stories to learn your craft until you were ready to begin the Great Australian Novel. Might even help to earn a few dollars along the way to pay for all those books you were buying.

Was it easy getting short stories published? Uh uh, not at all. You learned the hard way, didn’t you, that you have to read the magazine that you’re pitching to. Then chances are they’ve just accepted a story like yours…or something along those lines. About this time you stumbled across 'How to Write and Sell Short Stories' by Della Galton. She taught you how to target specific magazines, taught you the wealth of genres to explore, taught you how to submit after making your story sparkle. The more you wrote, the better your stories became, and finally short story publication could be ticked off your to-do list. 

(((Happy dance)))

And then you discovered blogging. That proved to be a good way to practise writing and to learn about writing from all those author gurus out there. Following a gazillion writing blogs was a fabulous idea, especially Karen Woodward's. Those excellent craft posts - writing scenes, writing short stories, writing novels! What more could a writer ask?

Blogging meant finding Critique Partners. Blogging meant writing at least once a week. Blogging meant sharing what you've learnt and offering opportunities to both established and newbie bloggers through writing challenges.

Now your dream of writing that novel is coming to fruition. After practising your craft by writing several novels during NaNoWriMo each November, you’ve finally finished one to publication stage. It's back from the editor and after re-writes it will be good to go. 

So, what has ten-years-older Denise learnt so far?

  • Write a lot, but don't beat yourself up if you don't write every day. Chill time can re-ignite that fire.
  • Read a lot, both in your genre/s and out.
  • Don't be daunted by best-selling writing. Learn from it. You too can write a best-seller.
  • Don't rush into publication. It's not a race, it's a long-term goal.
  • Remember, you don't get a second chance to make a first impression.


Denise Covey
Writer of romantic fiction - flash fiction, short stories, contemporary novels
Website – http://laussieswritingblog.blogspot.com
Permission granted for the e-book compilation. 

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31 comments:

  1. "Write a lot, but don't beat yourself up" Love it!!
    Your letter to chock full of great advice.

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  2. I love the attitude you wrote this letter with. You gave yourself some good sound advice and no doubt you will do many great things.

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  3. Blogging is one of the biggest things a writer can do to expand his world. Excellent letter, Denise!

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  4. Great letter! It's amazing how much there is to learn out there. Blogging was a huge step for me too! :)

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    1. I'm rather hooked on it Jemi, but have learned so much.

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  5. a lot of writers find blogging beneficial!

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    1. Where would we be without Mr Hollywood?

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  6. Blogging can teach a lot and open up many avenues indeed and write away at ones feed

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  7. Great advice! I like to look on those first rejections as battle scars - something to remind me that I'm actually in the game instead of just talking about it.

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    1. Those battle scars only make us stronger eh Botanist!

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  8. I love that--you won't get a second chance to make a first impression. I suppose that's why I've been such a chicken for so many years, but it's out in the world now. Yay! Here's to to road and the lessons we learn!

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  9. You letter is great and demonstrates exactly what a writer should do to hone his/her craft. :)

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  10. It's definitely a long haul. And I think you learnt enough to write that novel. You took the time until it felt ready when many people jump into it blind.

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  11. I think we tend to forget it's all about the writing. If writing makes us happy, we should spend as much time as we can doing it. Making a living at it would be nice...but in the end, it's all about us and the page (or computer screen!).

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  12. It's amazing how much we "think" we know while submitting our work out there only to realize how much we really don't know at all. Reading and attending writing classes are such great ways to help sharpen our gifts. I know when I first started out within this business, I thought everything would be a piece of cake and would fall together... like the perfectly woven together 1st drafts we spin out... WRONG! This business is meant for learning and growth and we are able to do that through each other and the countless rejections we have, and still will, receive.
    Thanks for sharing, Denise!

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    1. I don't think we can ever become complacent either Gina. Even much-published authors say they're only as good as their last book.

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  13. I wish I'd known some of this 10 years ago. :-) But for me, learning the hard way always seems to work better. Being stubborn, I tend to view every rejection as a challenge; to write, research, and/or edit better...and then get it accepted elsewhere. (I'll show YOU mumble mumble mumble)

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    1. I think that's a healthy attitude Li. I can just picture you mumbling...

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  14. always reading and always writing! great advice, and man, you have come along way smart one!

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  15. Some great advice in there, Denise. I loved the spirit of your younger self and the wisdom of your older one!

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  16. Hi Denise,

    An excellent reflective summary. I totally agree with you, my kind friend. After all, writing isn't a contest. One has to write at their own pace. Break down the ultimate goal into manageable, realistic portions without any unwarranted pressure.

    And blogging, a great way to hone your writing skills. A great way to interact, to learn, to get the support and the knowledge to keep the positive momentum going. Your passion for the written words shines out within your post.

    Thank you, Denise.

    Gary

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  17. Fantastic letter. Yes, it's a long-term goal and not a race. I look forward to reading this again in the compilation.

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    1. I'm looking forward to seeing those I havent yet read .

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  18. "Chill time can re-ignite that fire."

    Amen to that! ;) Thanks for participating, Denise!

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  19. Yay! Stories about other authors who are oh-so-close to publication give me hope. Good luck with the edits!

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