Five Things I Learned by Becoming a Novelist
by Ripley Patton
1. Writing is Hard.
Nope. Writing is not the easy part. Writing a book, any book, is really hard. Writing a good one that other people will want to buy and read? Even harder. In fact, in my experience, there is NO EASY PART. Every aspect of the writing process is difficult, and challenging, and rewarding. Easy is not a word anyone who has actually done it would ever employ to describe it.
2. We don't write for the money, but it sure helps.
Most writers and artists don't pursue their passion because they want to get rich quick. Art is not a fast track to wealth. Even the rags to riches stories we hear, like J.K. Rowling's, don't happen overnight. It was seven years after Rowling first conceived the Harry Potter series that it finally saw publication. During the time she was writing the first book, her mother died, she got divorced, and she found herself living in abject poverty. And during that time her book was rejected over and over again by publishers. J.K. Rowling didn't know if she would ever make a single penny on her books. But she wrote them anyway.
We writers write because we love to. Because we have stories inside of us yammering to get out. Because writing helps make sense of the world and the turmoil inside of us. We write because we must. And, I know for myself, I would continue to write for the rest of my life without pay.
But I also have two teenagers who like to eat.
3. Books connect people.
I'm not just a writer. I'm also an avid reader, as all good writers are. And one of the things
I've always loved about books is how they connect people.
First, there is the connection between the writer and the reader, that magical moment you enter someone else's internal world of story. Then there is the connection between the reader and the characters in the book, how they become like old friends or dear family members – people you've met in your mind, and traveled with, and now know intimately. And finally, there is the connection between you and all the readers who have loved that book before you and who will love it after you. You are connected to them through story, a story you've all shared. You've been to the same places and loved the same characters. When you meet someone who loves the same books you do, you are meeting an old friend.
4. There is no such thing as a perfect book.
When I wrote my first book, I wanted it to be perfect. I wanted the plot to be intricately woven. I wanted the cover to look exactly liked I'd imagined it. I wanted to comb the text over and over again until I'd rooted out every typo and misplaced comma. I was determined not to push the publish button until I had produced a flawless book.
However, when I was still finding small mistakes in the manuscript after seven revisions, three full edits (two by professional editors), and five different copy edits, I realized something - I have never read a perfect book.
I have read good books. I have even read great books. But I have never read a book without some kind of mistake in it. And yet, that has never prevented me from reading or enjoying books as long as the story was compelling.
So, I had to ask myself if I really wanted a perfect book, or if I wanted a book that people would get to read.
The answer seemed obvious.
There is no such thing as a perfect book. But there are millions of wonderfully-told stories.
5. The most important story is your own.
People often ask me why I became a writer. Why didn't I stay with the career I went to college for, or choose something easier or more lucrative? And there are lots of different answers for that question but the simplest is this; I became a writer because I want to read the stories only I can write.
Sometimes, I'll pick up a book, or two, or five or six in a row, and put them aside with a sigh because they simply aren't the story I want and need to read. My heart is hankering for a very specific story – a story that resonates deep inside me and says, "Yes, this is true. This is about you. These are the words you were looking for."
And sometimes, if you can't find that book, you want it so badly you write it yourself.
~ Ripley Patton
Okay, Ms. Patton, you've officially blown me away with that post. What a lot of great information and advice for Indie authors!
If you guys would like to know more about Ripley, why not give her a follow on the web?
Again, if you want to know more about Ripley, check out the interview I did with her last Monday!
Do you have questions for this awesome lady? Pop them into the comments.
Well, that's all for today, folks! Until next time, WRITE ON!