Monday, December 19, 2011

An Art, Not a Science

Because not getting your writing published is an art, not a science, I offer no assurances that my method is the only, or even the best, way to achieve this goal.  I can only attest that it has consistently worked for me for many years, and so I thought it might be of some interest to the general public.  Here goes:

1. Consider yourself a writer from childhood on.  Write all kinds of things through the years: poetry, plays, short stories, song lyrics, journal entries.  Read a lot, in many different genres.  Slowly, painfully, via many trials and a seemingly bottomless pit of errors, improve your literary skills. 

2. Develop a nonwriting career - say, the law.  Get married, divorced, remarried.  Have two kids.  Raise them.  Continue writing and reading throughout, though more episodically than steadily.  Take writing classes when possible.

3. Eventually - say, by your mid-thirties - select a writing genre that seems most suited to your abilities and interests.  Say - oh, I don't know - young adult literature.

4. Focus your efforts in that genre.  Read a lot of young adult novels.  Take classes.  Join the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, a truly stellar professional organization.  Attend conferences and workshops.  Join a wonderful, supportive, intelligent critique group, and attend its meetings regularly.  Stick with all of the above for - just throwing this number out here - fifteen years or so.  Give or take.

5. Keep writing. Steal time at work.  Finish a novel.  Acquire, and lose, an agent.  Write a second novel.  Then a third.  Amass critical praise over the years; come close to having a novel acquired by a couple of other agents; revise, revise, revise, until it seems that you could recite the full text of each of your novels from memory.  Resubmit.  Be told that it's just not quite ___ enough to sell (fill in the blank).  Compare your writing to that of published authors; whether you come out better or worse, hate and envy said authors for having something (an unfair measure of either genius or undeserved good luck) that you don't have.  Get depressed.  Get angry.  Keep writing anyway.

6. Get better at writing.  In fact, get really good at writing.  But, simultaneously, get older.  And then even older.  Until one day you wake up and turn - just a ballpark number - 56.  Four days after that birthday, start a blog.  Because, hey - who knows?  Maybe someone out there in cyberland will read that!!

So that's it.  As I said, I can only personally vouch for one way of not getting published.  There must be countless other variations out there.  Suggestions, anyone?

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