Today's guest author, Ann Swindell, sums up a writing career in the truest form. I couldn't have said it better. Let me tell you a little bit about Ann before you read her column today.
Ann Swindell is the author of Still Waiting: Hope for When God Doesn't Give You What You Want. In her story, she shares how she has learned to live with peace and joy in the midst of having the incurable hair-pulling condition of trichotillomania.
Ann teaches online writing courses for fellow writers at WritingwithGrace.com and lives in the Midwest with her husband and daughter. She loves chocolate almost as much as she loves books. Readers can email Ann at StillWaitingtheBook@gmail.com.
Please welcome author Ann Swindell to our book club...
It took me ten years to get my first book deal, and even then, I didn't have an agent. By industry standards, I suppose I did things wrong.
I went about book-writing through the back door, and while mine is not a linear path, I also know that writing a book is never one-size- fits-all.
Here's what they would say I did wrong: I wrote for publications that didn't pay me, and I spent years in academia working on the craft of writing without learning a thing about how to actually land a book deal. I worked on one book idea for six years before it went to print, most of that time with zero prospects of publication.
But here's what I'll tell you I did right: I was writing for publications that I loved, and I felt the thrill of community and camaraderie every time my words were shared in magazines that I knew had a kindred nature. I honed my craft as a writer for half of a decade without thinking much about publishing a book, and it kept my ideas honest rather than flashy; it kept my words truthful even if they weren't popular.
And more than anything, I was writing (and reading!) because I loved it. Writing helped me learn more fully about who I am and my place in the world. It helped me make sense of my life and the people around me. I knew I'd keep writing even if I never published a book, because the time I spent writing was time I spent feeding my soul.
When I did eventually meet with an editor who loved my book idea at a conference, I had a solid and authentic book to offer her, plus the confidence of knowing that even if she didn't take my book, my writing life wasn't going to change. Who I was as a writer didn't hinge on her acceptance or rejection.
When the acceptance came, I was undeniably thrilled--my first book! My first deal! After so many years of writing a book in the quiet of my own life, it was exciting and overwhelming to finally have a team who believed in me.
But I'll tell you the truth--every day, it's still just me behind the keyboard, clacking away. Not much changes when you get a book deal except that you have hard deadlines. The real work of being a writer is done out of the spotlight and in the shadows where the writer is becoming her truest self.
Email Ann at StillWaitingtheBook@gmail.com
Thanks for reading with me. It's so good to read with friends.