Tuesday, May 12, 2009

This Writer's Journey

By Robin Kaye

Last weekend I spoke at my local library about writing, my path to publication, my books, and the general state of publishing. I’m told I had a great crowd, which amazed me because there were only about 10 people in attendance, all of whom I knew. Still, it was a lot of fun to have the opportunity to speak to crowd who was actually interested in what I had to say.

The best part was when my favorite librarian got off from work early to join the group. She regaled everyone with the story of how I would come into the library a few days a week, check out a gazillion books and tell her about the book I was writing.

I remembered how much fun I had writing my first book. I had three small children at home and had moved across the country to a place where I had no friends or family. I came to writing through a back door, or so I like to think. I felt as if I needed to write. I needed the creative outlet that writing gave me. It never occurred to me that anyone else would be interested in reading what I had written until someone I respected asked to read my work. I didn’t think much of it, so I emailed my tome to her. She loved my story and urged me to have it published. I’ll never forget my shock. Someone actually seemed to enjoy what I had written as much as I did.

I’ve found that most people, at some time in their lives, want to write a book. I hear it all the time. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been told that I should write a book about somebody’s life. I usually thank them and explain that no one but them could possibly do it justice. If they have a story to tell, they should be the one to tell it.

Writing a book is a daunting task. You not only have to write a book that you would enjoy reading, but that others would want to read as well. All writers have to be self confident enough to believe that other people would find their thoughts interesting. Then they actually have to sit down and do the work. Facing that blinking cursor every day is usually enough to cure anyone of the need to write. But it that doesn’t get you, then there’s the uphill battle to get the manuscript you’ve poured your heart and soul into published. Putting out there to face rejection, revision if you’re lucky, and finally the reviews.

Speaking at the library Saturday and seeing the pride in my sweet librarian’s eyes when she told my story made me realize, yet again, how lucky I’ve been to achieve my dream of publication. I admit to being an overnight success. I know I’ve yet to hit the Times list, the USA Today list, or any other list for that matter, but the four years in which I worked toward publication is considered an overnight success.

I can’t say if I’d have had the tenacity to write and pursue publication for 25 years, as I know some have before being published. I do know in my heart that I would have never stopped writing. It’s something that is necessary to my life. The fact that I’m lucky enough to have been published is just icing on the cake.

What about you? For those writers out there, how did you come to writing? For those of you who want to write, what’s keeping you going? Or what’s stopping you from telling your story? If I had a wish for all of you, it’s to have a revelation the likes of which I had Saturday. It was a wonderful experience to look at my journey through someone else’s eyes and rediscover my love for what I do, and what I would continue to do, even if I never had reached my goal.

13 comments:

  1. I think most people who feel the need to write can write a good book. The trick is to be persistent enough to get it through all the stages required to get it on the bookstore shelf. Of course, luck has a lot to do with it, too. You never know when someone's casual remark will turn out to be the beginning of a quest. Great post!

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  2. Great post, Robin.

    For me, writing was always the only occupation that made sense. But it took a long time to realize I could make my living that way.

    Without my 'pushy' sister behind me, and some lucky breaks, I don't know if I'd have had the stamina to keep at it, day after day, without publication as the brass ring.

    Every day, I realize how lucky I ma, and how this, what I'm doing, is someone else's dream, too. I try to encourage writers any way I can.

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  3. Great post, Robin. I'm a big believer in the journey being every bit as important as the destination, and I've has so many wonderful stops along the way and made so many great friends. But the writing is the crux of everything, the thing that matters most.

    I spoke at middle school career day last week about how an idea becomes a book. One of the teachers asked me if I'm creative in all areas of my life. Other than some graphic design skills learned by osmosis on the job, writing is all I've got. I can't sew or draw or paint. My kids say I can't sing but I say they're tone deaf. I can't add 2 + 2 with a calculator and physics baffles me. But that's okay. I wouldn't trade what I've got for anything else in the world.

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  4. Great post, Robin! I work in a library, so I think part of it too is seeing our books in the libraries along with all the other great writers, and in B & N and Powells, and Books-A-Million and other great book stores, and with getting RT awards or Publisher's Weekly's Best Book of the Year, or other kinds of awards. It's the look on someone's face when you say you're a writer, ahem, a published author, and then--really?

    It's the little things and the big ones...the pride I see in my family's face when they tell the whole wide world that their mom is a writer. :) No, not just a writer...a published novelist. :) And how many books she has coming out.

    It's about the fan mail and reviews that keep us writing. :)

    But even before that? Even before the publication? It was all about the writing, telling the story. And after publication? It still is. :)

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  5. "overnight success" - Let us not forget winning the first contest you entered, OR winning the first GH you entered.

    And there's a reason for those wins, Robin. I told you back then that you'd sell Romeo, Romeo. No surprise to me at all. You deserve it!

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  6. I've always wanted to write something, I just never had the how-to or knowledge about the industry to do anything about it.

    It wasn't until another publisher had a huge contest that I began writing for real. That was less than 3 years ago. And I've learned more from fellow writers, agents, and publishers than all of my college courses put together.

    Renee

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  7. I think everyone knows my story so I won't bore again with the details, or synopsis! But like you, Robin, I am an 'overnight success' - heck, I am an 'overnight' writer! I do not think I could have kept at it for dozens of year as some folks do, but then having it all happen so fast when you are clueless is really tough too. So who's to say? All I know is that I am very proud to see my book on a shelf and know that most of the readers are satisfied. In the end we can't ask for too much more.

    Now that the door has been opened in my heart, I don't think I could ever stop writing. Yet, how unimaginable is it to think of writing if no one ever read it? Is that easier when you are just beginning vs. now when you know how it feels too sell books? I'm not sure! I just hope I never have to find out! LOL!

    Great post Robin. I, too, love to read about writer's journeys. They are all so different yet oddly similar.

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  8. Like you, I write because I must. Unlike you, I have tried numerous times to make the need go away--to no avail. Every time I try to be satisfied writing something other than fiction (and I've written everything from ad oopy to publicity) someone unknown to me makes an appearance in my life and starts pushing me back. It's downright annoying at times, but that's how Laurie became my CP. Serrendipity, fate, call it what you will, the obstacles have been horrendous, but there seems to be a plan somewhere so here I go again.

    And, if not for those forces, I would never have known you. What a loss that would have been.

    Keep writing, darlin'. Your unique sense of humor, take on family, and insight into workings of the human mind are priceless.

    {{{Hugs}}}

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  9. I remember your 'semi-early days.... and your right regarding the word confidence. Every writer needs that, and I guess with every success, the writer will get better and better not just because of the experience behind them, but the confidence that inspires them to step into new territory and new storylines..

    You go girl!!!!!!!

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  10. Robin, very nicely said. I wish I could have been in the library audience to cheer you on. I guess the most profound saying that sums up what you're talking about today is a quote I heard a while back... The difference between a professional author and an unpublished writer is the professional author never gave up. Thanks for taking your storytelling to that level and never giving up!

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  11. Lovely post. Sounds like you had a really good meeting. Wish I could've been there too, but thanks for taking me along in your article.

    And I rather think serious talent has a lot to do with overnight success stories.

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  12. thanks for sharing this with us Robin! Very insightful

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  13. Hi everyone~

    Thanks for all the great comments. You guys are the best.

    Robin :)

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