I’m a little on the shy side. Promoting myself on the Internet and publishing a website and blog do not come natural. I’m also not one to voice strong opinions. I’m always worried about offending someone. Besides what could I possibly have to say to the world (or at least to the thirty some people who may have stumbled on this site) that will keep them coming back for more?
When I was pregnant with my first child I used to try an imagine what my baby might look like. Would it be a boy or a girl? Would he have 10 fingers and toes. Would I love him or her?
Birthing a novel is similar. I carried the story with me for nine months, while I painstakingly typed it. When the final words were written, and it was ready to be born, I grew anxious. Did the plot line make sense? Was it poorly written? Would the reader grow bored? Would they love it?
All babies must come into this world at some point, and although there are plenty of self-help books, there are no parenting manuals. From time to time you hear about easy labors, but most of the women I know, including myself, had long first labors.
So it is with writing and publishing a novel.
For your book to be “born,” you must either self-publish, find a publisher, or find a literary agent, who finds a publisher. I have decided to start with a literary agent. But convincing an agent to request my manuscript requires hard labor, and the outcome is uncertain.
I’m finding that part of parenting a novel is developing patience…a LOT of it. And that’s not easy. It also requires confidence and daring. You have to put yourself out there, over and over again, and make yourself vulnerable to criticism. You have to develop an Internet presence and blog, even if you aren’t certain you have anything to say. You have to be brave, try new things and face the unknown.
It requires discipline to work on the next novel, even though the first is unpublished. I don’t want to make the same mistakes twice. I have rewritten my query letter at least five times. But with each rewrite, I see improvement. With each step forward, I learn something new, something that will make me a better writer and hopefully, a better person.
In September, I’ll be sending my first child off to college. For 17 beautiful years, we’ve loved, disciplined, molded and shaped him into the wonderful young man he has become. You always wonder if the choices you are making as a parent are the best ones for you and your child. There are no guarantees.
The same is true for your book. You hope to send your novel off into the world, ready to amaze and wow readers. You hope you have made good writing choices along the way. There are no guarantees. But you hope that when it finally makes its way into the hands of readers, they will love it as much as you do.