I can’t remember a time when ‘Write a Novel’ wasn’t the very first goal on my New Year’s Resolution list. Maybe since sixth grade when Tomie Dipaola came to give a talk at my school. I can still remember how electric I felt, realizing for the first time that books came from regular people. I’m not sure where I thought they came from–not a guy who wrote first drafts on yellow legal pads with Sharpie markers. (Those were my tools of choice for a very long time after.)
Certainly since high school.
It took me a long time to finally actually do it. Years. Decades, even. I was 33 years old when I finished the first draft of my first novel. It was truly, truly awful–but I finished it and I knew that if I could write a bad novel, then I could learn how to write a good one. I went to school and studied writing. I went to writer’s conferences. I wrote more books, each less awful than the last. Maybe most importantly I put my work out there (I’m talking about that awful first first draft) and I found the world’s most amazing critique partner. I really hit the lottery with that one.
For eight more years ‘Publish a Book’ was first on my New Year’s Resolution list. And then in 2013 that happened.
Being published isn’t exactly what I thought it would be. It isn’t the pinnacle. It’s not the end game. It’s like reaching the top of the mountain only to find that it’s actually the bottom of the next mountain. And sometimes I’ve found myself stuck. My whole life I’ve just written what I wanted to write with a vague idea in the back of my mind that it would be awesome to be published someday. But I wrote for the love of writing. I wrote despite knowing that I might never be published. I wrote to tell my stories.
And then I reached a point where, if I was going to make a living as a writer, I had to learn to do things a little differently.