The Road To Publication

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Everybody talks about the road to publication as if getting published is the destination. You slave away at your book-baby for however long, walking down this long and dusty road, sometimes trudging through mud, sometimes wanting to turn back when a rejection letter falls down from heaven (of course this is where the holy agents live) and smacks you in the face. Sometimes there are cars on the road to publication and sometimes they are driven by people who put down your writing and they hit you with the car and you go off the road and you get lost for a bit. But you get back to the road because the road has this magnetism, this pull. Writing, your desire to get published, it's not going to let you go. You don't want to still be walking down this road, sometimes, but you still do. No pain, no gain.

Sometimes it seems as if the road will never end. Sometimes it seems as if that Oasis of Published Authordom is only a mirage. You never seem to be getting closer to your destination.

I am going to let you in on a big secret: This is life. There are no destinations. The journey is the whole point.

When you get published, it isn't like you've reached the end of the road. You're still on the road. It's just that the obstacles change. The people driving the cars (okay, that analogy is rubbish, but bear with me) say different stuff to you that knocks you off the road.

When you get published, you are still a human being. Published writers are not a higher life form. They're one 'yes' away from you (assuming you are unpublished. If you are published, how's the road of post-publication treating you?).

You get knocked down, you get up again, it keeps going and going and going. This road is neverending.

I'm trying to get myself to remember this. I'm trying to say to myself, Hey! Steph Bowe! There is no destination! It's all about the journey! And maybe you're trying to say that to yourself too. I think it's the truth. I think being a writer (same as being a teenager, a human being) is always going to be a difficult thing. Once you get a book deal, you don't have it made. But it's really not about 'having it made'. It's about enjoying being a writer, unpublished and published. It's about taking rejection letters and people's criticism and all the pressure (the pressure and expectation and resentment that make you feel as if your head will explode) and knowing that it's character building.

There's this quote in Cool Runnings, where Irv tells Derice: "A gold medal is a wonderful thing. But if you're not enough without one, you'll never be enough with one."

Replace 'gold medal' with 'literary agent/book deal/bestseller/lots and lots of royalties.'

Don't let whether or not you have a book published dictate how you feel about yourself as a writer or as a person. Don't compare yourself to other writers. If you must, remember: There's no destination (well, I haven't seen it, and if we employ the same rules here as I do when my sister yells 'punch buggy!' when we're in the car going somewhere, then if I don't see it then it doesn't exist). Regardless of whether you are published or unpublished, you're still struggling along. It's about enjoying the journey, you guys.
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