It took me a year and a half to write my first book. I wrote it when I felt like it, stopped when I didn't know what to do next. I was in college, working, and growing/having a baby during that time. Writing was fun and carefree and the thought of publishing was a big dream.
I was not blogging. I didn't even know what a blog was. I had no clue about the business, about agents or publishing houses or query letters.
I'll be honest, sometimes I miss those blissfully naive days.
After I finished that first book, I figured maybe I could try to get it published. I'd heard about Writer's Market in class, but that was about all I knew. So I went online to learn more.
I got completely sucked in.
The blogs! The agent search engines! The author websites! There was so much out there, and it was so exciting I could hardly take it. Every "I have an agent!" and "I sold a book!" announcement filled me with glee. "That could be me," I thought. "I just have to get out there and it'll happen!"
I wrote my next book in six months. Rushed it out. And...nothing. The next in two, the one after that in six weeks, the one after that in 25 days, then 15. I was out of control.
But I kept seeing success stories! Kept craving to be there already, instead of where I was. I had this idea that I just needed that one idea—The One—that would make every agent beg me to be their client. Revising, real revising, could come later, because if I didn't hurry then all the agents would be taken! Or the genre I wrote in would get too full! Or someone would steal my precious idea!
It didn't exactly help that I kept reading about how publishing was suffering. Bookstores closing! Publishers dissolving imprints! Editors being fired! DOOM! APOCALYPSE! If I didn't get published NOW, then it would never, ever happen because books would be dead and my dream would be shattered.
It took some very tough experiences for me to snap out of this, most of which have consisted of working my butt off (I wish literally) and waiting for stuff to happen. And waiting. And then working more. And after that some awesome WAITING.
Slowly, I started to realize that, well, the business has always been like this. I realized that those success stories I kept reading really did have years of hard work and angst behind them. I discovered that publishing is in no way as fast as the internet makes it look.
Shocking, I know.
We hear this a lot, but sometimes I think that we glance over it. In this internet culture, everything seems rather instantaneous. I mean, people whine when they can't get on Twitter for TEN WHOLE MINUTES, as if they've missed a year of life because of the fail whale. We freak when an agent takes months, even weeks, to answer a query. We feel bad if we can't write a book as fast as so and so, edit as quickly as insert-Kiersten-here.
Well, today I'm here to dump a bucket of ice water over your head. *Dumps*
Enjoy the time it takes to craft a story.
My agent constantly tells me to take my time. It used to bother me. I used to wonder if he was passive agressively telling me I wasn't doing a good job. But I think I've finally figured out what he means.
Take the time you need to write, to edit. Do your best. If your best takes three weeks, okay. If it takes four months, fine. A year? That's fine too. So what if the Apocalypse comes in the meantime—if your book isn't good enough yet, do you really want people reading it anyway? Besides, publishing might be the future life you want, but you have a life right now, too. Living your current life well comes before living your future life.
I know this is all easier said than done. I am certainly guilty of rushing more than I'd like to be. I adore the online writing community, but sometimes I have to take a step back and remember that my life is not the world inside my computer.
There's nothing wrong with slowing down, nothing wrong with missing a few things. In fact, it's the best thing I've done for myself in a long time.