You Gotta Keep Writing

Writer Natalie Whipple (, repped at my wonderful lit agency, Curtis Brown, who also has a blog worth following, put up a fabulous and very honest post about how brutal and heart-wrenching publishing can be at times.

If you’re a writer, you’ve likely heard horror stories like Natalie’s. So tantalizingly close, only to be turned away at the finish line. Hers is the worst sort of rejection though, because hopes are at their highest before being dashed. You think you’ve made it, it all looks good, and then the very last, possible person who can say no to your book, does so. It sucks, in a big, bad way. It’s the sort of scenario that can make you scream and throw up your hands in defeat. You just want to give a big ol’ “Eff you” to the publishing world. If any sort of scenario can stop a writer from writing again, what happened to Natalie is the one to do it. In my opinion, I’d rather struggle for years and not get close than have this happen. However…

You gotta keep writing. If writing is what you love to do and you have dreams of publishing and seeing your story out there on the shelves, you can’t let anything, and I do mean anything, stop you. Let’s face it though, the odds are stacked against you. You can’t pursue dreams of publishing without being fully aware that you might never make it. Be honest with yourself. It’s like trying to throw a dart at a moving target while blindfolded, while outside in a hurricane. Publishing is a very fickle industry and you simply have no ability to control anything outside of your own writing. Now, I’m not trying to be discouraging here, but writers do need to be clear about how hard this is. With a capital H.

In case you were wondering, your writing/book is the dart. It’s the one thing you have control over, and unless it’s an extremely well designed dart, your chances of hitting the publishing target are pretty much zero. Natalie just missed the target. Everything looked good until the last moment. This sucks in a big, bad way. To have hopes dashed when they’re the highest hurts. A lot. The bonus side of all this agony, is that Natalie probably knows she can do it. She knows she can make a pretty damn good dart. I expect she’ll hit that target (lots of luck in 2011, Natalie!). Thing is, she won’t make it, and neither will any writer out there if they don’t keep writing. You gotta keep writing. Get better. Keep flinging the darts, because you can’t hit the target without something to throw. Just please, for your sanity’s sake, realize that the possibility exists that you might never hit it. Don’t go into writing without that thought firmly entrenched in your mind. If you can’t cope with that fact and continue to write, don’t do it, because you’re probably better off without the ulcers, depression, and loss of hair.


4 responses to “You Gotta Keep Writing

  1. Great post Jim, and Natalie too (I read hers yesterday). Very motivational in a sort of “turn that frown upside down” way. Obviously, you’ll never make it if you don’t try, so try!

    I’m going to use Dory for my analogy….

    “Just keep swimming….”

  2. Thanks, Jim:) It’s true—you just have to keep going. My mantra? It’s only Game Over when you put down the controller.

    Yes, I like video games. So many life lessons in video games.