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Every published author can recall every reaction, when telling others about their latest work. The majority are positive, yet fail in asking a follow up question. Some enquire about the work’s title and content, and a rare few will guarantee you have a sale in them; when only half of those end up making a purchase.
There is one statement the majority of authors hear often which - while hardships of self-promotion strengthen humility, come across as slightly annoying and ridiculous. While the ego in us hopes for an excited reaction to how amazing we are, and the humility desires to be told our work is a beacon of inspiration, the number one reply when telling others we are a published author, is never about us at all, but the listeners ego… “That’s great. I want to write a book too!”
As a craft, writing – that is professional writing; not simply throwing a bunch of words together, is a challenging, time consuming, and difficult process; requiring steely determination, dedication, and even sprinklings of delusion to carry us up next rung of our ladder. In other words, it is extremely fucking hard. Without the guarantee of financial contracts, sales figures, and reader sums, writers have to – as most active dreamers do, keep writing, editing, hustling, writing, editing, hustling, until a solitary brick becomes part of an indestructible castle. This can take years, even decades, and requires a hard-head, thick skin, and the ability to nurture the ability you have. In other words, as a craft - and much like life, you have to respect it, but not fear it; in order to get good at it.
The book writing process itself is the easy part; much like the first six miles of a marathon, or the initial 100 pieces of a 10,000 piece jigsaw puzzle; the assumption that simply writing a book and selling it to the world with global or even national success, is a myth born from inexperience and ignorance. Nobody in history just created a piece of work, exposed it to the world, and suddenly every dream came true. Decca rejected The Beatles, Van Gogh barely sold a painting in his lifetime, and a young Agatha Christie received a stack of rejections, before going on to become the second-higher selling British writer in history; beaten only by the mighty William Shakespeare.
And yet, all these artists understood that the creation of the work was a small step, of a much larger staircase to climb. Rejection is a part of life; once you get used to it, there is no longer any fear of it. Besides this, writers are a compassionate bunch. They promote one another, network, advise, and encourage. They are also the only people who understand the difficulties faced in a profession driven by subjection and desire. It takes courage to expose yourself so openly in an artistic manner – on any form. Once the work is out there, the public are free to speak as many ills about it as they are commendations, or the very worst reaction, indifference; everyone receives all three.
The successful writers in our world never walked a couple of short steps into the wealth, admiration, and glory sought by all forms of dreamers alike. They lived and breathed a goal until they hit that point. Sure, timing and a fortune played their hand – as they always do. But the years of solid labour, set-backs, and frustrations are rarely seen or noted outside of the professions they work within. As a wise man once said; it takes a lifetime to become an overnight success.
Writing a book is the easy part. Writing the realities of success is a whole other animal; one we still try our hardest to feed, tame, understand, and domesticate to the best of our abilities. Of course, regardless of success or the feeling of failure, there is one underlying factor which connects all dreamers; we try. And trying is not failing, failing is not trying...