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!