4. The Writing Life
Ah, the writing life! Some people seem to hanker for the lifestyle more than they have anything to actually write. If you’re seduced by images of a fashionable, languorous, sun-drenched, cocktail-sipping lifestyle, jump off now! If you’re desperate to write, read on …
You have to be in it for the long haul. For intending writers, I suggest a Five Year Plan—minimum! You can’t reckon on your first book being accepted by a publisher. No matter how good it is, the timing may be against you. Plan several projects and be ready to write them; don’t pin all your hopes on a single MS. And don’t worry: those other MSS may still have their day in the sun later.
Even apart from writing, you’ll need several years to make contacts, perhaps score some short story hits—whatever it takes to snare that all-important recommendation. (See the “Getting a Recommendation” page) Start working on the pathways to success even as you start writing the novel(s) you want to succeed.
When you have an MS accepted, you shift from the Five Year Plan to the Unlimited Lifetime Plan. There are some lucky authors whose first book is a mega-success, but it’s rare. A writing career is built on a run of books each adding a little more success on top of the one before. Picture waves creeping steadily up a beach! You need to have more than one good book in you.
The reputation you build is a reputation of increasing sales, of course, but also a reputation as a ‘professional’. You want to become known as an author with whom publishers can work, an author who puts in the hard yards, an author who delivers on promises. That way, you’ll still be in demand even if one of your waves falls back a little!