I've seen the trailer in the movies and on TV for the movie "The Pursuit of Happyness" (yeah, I know; my anal retentiveness had a field day with that one ;-)).

Anyway, the gist I get from this movie, without having seen it as yet, is that here's a guy with his son - down on his luck, out of a job. At one point, he's shown sleeping in a car with his son. He finally gets a chance to make some money and thus provide for his son. I'd guess he also learns how strong a person he really is, in that he doesn't give up until he's achieved his goal.

Such should it be with writers who want to be commercially published.

I hadn't been writing anything for about two days (bad me! bad me!), until an idea for a short story formulated in my brain. I sat and wrote quickly, finishing most of the rough draft in about 30 minutes (I actually finished the last part of it a little while later). It's way too long at 5,000 words, but I think it's a decent story about a lonely woman who's had glory in her past as an actress. She's been forgotten by most of the masses, until a stoner (this is set in 1969, heh heh) asks entrance to her home, with a magical crystal he received from a really groovy chick...

Anyway, before I decided to write this, I thought long and hard about my perceptions of the "Happyness" movie. Not only that, I remember reading somewhere about a man who wrote a novel and wanted an agent; it took him something like 10 years to get one interested in his book. I assume he must have gone through quite a few revisions with it, and from time to time must've doubted whether he was a fool to keep on the agent trail.

He was not, obviously.

The thing is, a lot (if not most) of this is not just going to fall into your lap. Sure, there are the occasional Christopher Paolini happenings (15 year old writes book; parents self publish; teen goes on a book tour financed by his parents; either an editor or editor's kid of big commercial publisher happens to go to one of these tours; teen's book and subsequent ones are signed to publisher), but this is a rare thing, which is why such events are reported all over the place.

But for most that dream of being published, it's a lot of hard work. Getting the idea down on paper, deciding which words that succinctly and entertainingly get the story across, deciding on character names, etc. Unless all of this comes naturally and unobtrusively to you, this is not something that can be hashed out in a couple of weeks or even a month. Learning what works and what doesn't in telling a story in an entertaining or thought provoking way is something that's ongoing.

Securing an agent or a publisher is the same thing: writing and polishing a query or synopsis (or both!), checking endless times to make sure your story stays in the right POV, checking for typos, etc. It's not easy, and it may take years before fruition.

As for my short story, I'm hoping it'll see publication in a fantasy mag at some point in time. That might never happen, due to me being a chicken about submitting it (heh) or because the editors at mags don't care for it, or whatever. That's okay. I've decided I'm going to be like the guy in the movie and the writer who took 10 years to find an agent (and finally get his book pubbed): I'm going to persevere until I can't take it anymore, until I've decided that I have nothing else in me to write. If that takes 10 years (God, I hope not ;-)), then so be it. But I've decided I've got to do this now, because it's a creative pursuit I really enjoy.

Like I always say: Don't give up - keep writing!


Southern Writer said...

Good post - difficult situation. I've read some things where I said, "don't give up," and thought to myself, "but learn how to write." There are probably people out there saying the same things about my writing. Gah!

~Nancy said...

southern writer,

And, to boot, I've had some health issues lately. Nothing serious (thank goodness), but the usual monthly crud and then, this past week, a terrible "crick" in my neck.

I took some ibuprofen over the weekend, relaxed a lot...and I feel like I'm over it for now. I did order a special pillow (having ditched one of the two I regularly us) and hope to have that in place by the end of this week.

Might just be me, but I just have this feeling that sooner rather than later, if I keep using a regular pillow, my neck's going to end up having being strained on one side or the other. Can't have that, as I'm utterly subdued when that happens.

My monthly "thing," OTOH, is in check, thank God!

Southern Writer said...

Hey Nancy - hope you're feeling better. I've been unable to comment here and left you a msg in my blog about three days ago. But, the one I want you to see right now is today's. Go see when you get a chance, okay?

Southern Writer said...

Hey lady, where are you? I came by to wish you a very merry Christmas. Hope you're enjoying your day and will post something soon.