Sunday, July 19, 2015
Always Learning ~ The Stones are the Path
I've always been a writer, but it was about 8 or 9 years ago I decided to get serious about getting published. I took the Institute for Children's Literature correspondence course because I'd never had any true "training" and I'm a firm believer in training. I wouldn't just assume I could be a geologist without schooling. Why would I just assume I could be a writer? Returning to school for an MFA wasn't an option, so I chose correspondence.
I also joined some writer's groups. I struggled a bit to find the best place for me, but eventually settled into the Society for Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). Through SCBWI, I attended conferences and workshops. I was able to pitch agents and editors I never would have had access to before and meet other writers just like myself. It was refreshing because, believe me, living out in the sticks can sure make a person feel isolated. I attended non-SCBWI events as well to expand my training and to make new connections.
Since I started, I've self-published and been published by two different small presses. I still don't have an agent, but it's not for lack of trying. Over the years, I've seen a lot of other writers go through the same experiences - some self-published, some traditionally published, some with agents, some without. No one's experience is exactly the same. I feel like I've learned some things about publishing, but by no means do I know everything. What I do know is there's no one single path.
As a writer, my main concern is that I am read by others. Would I like to have a high-powered agent and be read by thousands or even millions? Sure, who wouldn't? But if I had to choose between being read by a handful of readers or not being read at all, I'd chose the former. Some writers believe they must follow the traditional path: query agent, get agent, agent makes sale. Other writers don't believe that the absence of an agent means they can't be published. They find editors willing to accept un-agented material or they self-publish.
Either path you choose, make no mistake about it, it is a long, hard, stony path with obstacles at every turn. But as a very astute friend of mine once pointed out, perhaps the stones are the path.
It is the journey that makes the final results worth the effort and the journey never truly ends. Publishing one book does not mean you're on easy street. The next one is just as hard, as is the next one. The process is a circle, not a line. With every new book, you begin at square one again. You write it and then you do whatever it takes to get it to your readers. The outcome is never guaranteed, unless you have a multi-book publishing deal of course. :) And even then, you have a lot of hard work ahead of you. The take away lesson for me is where I'm at today is an accomplishment to be proud of, but I will always be learning more and always traveling to see where the path leads.