Sunday, July 12, 2009

The writer's journey

I was asked to write an article for my local Romance Writer's of America chapter and tell my journey to publication. So, I sat down and did my best to give the short version of a very long tale. It came out a tad bit tongue-in-cheek, but nearly accurate and it got me thinking about the subject.

Everyone's journey is unique- like snow flakes. Some people like to qualify and quantify them. It is human nature I suppose to put the journey into some sort of pecking order based on publisher, quantity of books sold, type of book, amount of money made. As in-so and so sold to Harlequin- 30 books, but everyone knows those are throwaway formula books, they don't count. So and so sold to Avalon- those are libraries books and there's no real money in them...they don't count. So and so sold to Kensington's debut line. Everyone knows that's not a career builder...and on and on it goes. Everyone comparing journeys as if this is some kind of hierarchy. (Ah, the human ego is a crazy thing.)

After reading my writer's journey piece a good friend of mine said the writing life is like a roller coaster, with great highs and plunging lows... some people come off the ride and say-"No way, I'm done." Others get back on. This time closer to the front of the roller coaster and as the cars start to climb think to themselves..."What the heck have I done?!"

I think the writer's journey is more like the original "Willy Wonka." You begin by being excited by the possibility of finding a golden ticket. Then you join in the hunt - working your craft, doing your best, joining groups.

Then you win the ticket!! Joy! Jubilation! All congratulations.

So you find yourself in the magical candy factory filled with wonders and oompa-loompa's and their fabulous warnings. It's fun, it's magical... until you get on the boat ride... and things get a little nuts. There are those crazy spinning circles and colors and noises and Gene Wilder's voice warning..."There's no knowing where you're going..."

Will you be dashed to bits on the rocks or make it safely to the fudge room? :) It truly comes down to the luck of the draw. (Wouldn't it be nice if all the bad "nuts" got carried away by squirrels leaving only the good writers? Too bad real life washes away the good and the bad the same.)

This is why long time writers tell newbies, if at all possible, do something else. If you can't--if you are compelled to tell stories despite the warnings--you will be far happier if you can hold tight to this sage advice. Don't take anything personal...and more importantly... enjoy the ride!


Jessica said...

Great post Nancy! I loved your example. I'm still searching for that golden ticket, but I'm glad to have the forewarning you established authors share. :-)

Nancy J. Parra said...

Thanks Jessica,

It's a fun and wild ride. I hope your golden ticket is everything you dreamed it to be. Cheers!

L. Diane Wolfe said...

I also liken the roller coaster ride to the chaos becoming the balance! I wouldn't know how to live any other way.

L. Diane Wolfe

Joelle said...

I like the excitement of not knowing where the ride is going. Whether I end up dashed on the rocks or in the fudge room - I plan on enjoying every minute of the ride.

Nancy J. Parra said...

L. Diane, I think your blog has some great advice for the roller coaster. Glad to share the ride with you!

Nancy J. Parra said...

Joelle- LOL- just got her golden ticket!! Congrats!! I'll meet you in the fudge room. ;)

Marilyn Brant said...

Really, you had me at "fudge room." :) And, yeah, I think you've explained it unbelievably well. Thank you, as always, for your tremendous insight...

Pamala Knight said...

I heard that there was chocolate here??

Really, as usual Nancy dear, you hand out the pearls of wisdom like they were paste. Your article in the C-N newsletter was inspiring and thought-provoking. Everything that a good piece of writing should be. Thank you for sharing your journey with the rest of us.

Jane Kennedy Sutton said...

I've had a few of those "What the heck have I done" moments but I still keep doing it! I guess I must be enjoying "The Ride!" LOL

Helen said...

And what a ride it is! And now I find out there's chocolate at the end. Woo-woo. I'm getting a season ticket.

Straight From Hel

Nancy J. Parra said...

Marilynn, thanks-I tweeted your blog on the free Starbucks coffee tasting!

Pamala-XO-CN gained a real asset when you joined.

Jane- I thought of your book after I wrote this! LOL

Ginger- there should always be chocolate at the end... don't you think?