Skip to content

Believe In Yourself And Get Your Novel Published, by Jenn J McLeod

Last month’s post ended with: It’s never too late to follow your dreams. It’s also never too early. A Google search of youngest author or oldest author will prove that.

So is there a best time to start? And how long do you keep trying?

To explore this I am borrowing the tagline from Dianne Blacklock’s novel The Right Time (Excellent read BTW!):

“There’s never a perfect time for life-changing decisions. There’s just the right time.”

It’s what you do with that time when it comes that counts.

Dreaming is easy. My greatest challenge was to stop dreaming and start believing.  In the beginning I relied on family and friends to keep me buoyed and encouraged. But what I discovered was this:

Family and friends might love us to bits, but love doesn’t necessarily equate to understanding, and that lack of understanding makes them worry. While we writers happily lose ourselves to the dream, our family and friends fret. They worry we’ll be disappointed. They worry about us “wasting our lives sitting at that computer all day”.

Others can be pessimists and killjoys. They expect us to fail. Not because they want us to but because they simply don’t ‘get it’. The notion that their friend – an ordinary, everyday person just like them – might be published does not compute; especially for those whose only reference for ‘being an author’ is their favourite bestselling novelist or the likes of JK Rowling.

For a self-confessed self-doubter like me, maintaining my belief in the dream was a major challenge, especially with comments like these:

“You’re too old.”

“Don’t you think you’ve left it too late?”

“Such a waste of time.”

Or my personal favourite: “You’re only setting yourself up for disappointment.”

Instead of giving in, I put on my big girl panties and formulated my standard response, which I delivered with a smile:

“What a load of HOGWARTS!” (You’ll understand that in a minute.)

I can hardly blame them really. I’d dabbled and daydreamed for decades waiting for that magical ‘right time’. Then, without warning, the right time suddenly reared up and whacked me in the head. Determined at 47, I’d decided to set a few small goals and a do-or-die date. Should I fail to nudge a single goal by my 50th, I would accept the fact that I’d left it too late, that ordinary people like me don’t get published, avoid disappointment and be content to write for myself.

My 50th birthday was my first real deadline. It was also one of my best lessons:

“The moment you’re ready to quit is usually the moment right before the magic happens.”

My right time meant working hard and fast, with all those “You’re too old” and “Isn’t it too late?” comments like a constant cattle prod. There was so much to learn. But how? (Especially given I wasn’t into study and was getting older by the second!) After exploring the various writer support options: writers centres/associations, courses/study, self-help books, etc, I opted somewhat reluctantly to get involved in an online community. Reluctant because, for me, online anything at my age and with my limited experience was alien and intimidating. Social media was for the young and chat rooms were seedy places filled with debauched weirdos. (Yes, there will be lots of ROFLAO as my many cyber friends read this admission.)

Too timid to post a comment? Come on, try it. Be brave.

Thank goodness I braved up. Surrounding myself with like-minded people, listening to their experiences, learning from their mistakes and successes was exactly what I needed.

So, if you’re dreaming of publication and getting online still terrifies you, I have this advice:

Get over it!

Discover, as I did, that whatever challenges, feelings, confusion, etc, you experience at any point along your pathway to publication, you will find any number of writers online who understand. Although the killjoys may mock your newfound cyber friendships, these new connections will help you believe magic happens.


Jenn J McLeod’s author website:

Jenn J McLeod’s bio page


The Right TimeRotten GodsThe Girl from Snowy RiverThe Fragment of DreamsShutterspeedWings of FearThe Silver Brumby

Writing Novels in Australia

11 Comments Post a comment
  1. Great post, Jenn! It’s very true: there is never a perfect time. Leaving a job, starting a running routine, writing a book – you just have to *start*. So simple, yet so hard sometimes…

    February 5, 2013
  2. What wonderful advice Jenn. And on that note, I’m off to dash out a few hundred words on my lunch break to get that much closer to my publishing dream!

    February 5, 2013
  3. Cheryl Casement #

    I really like this post by Jenn J McLeod. I’m wondering if, giving credit to Ms. McLeod and to Writing Novels In Australia, I could use this post as part of a welcome packet for new members of my local writer’s group. Would it be possible to get permission to do so? Thanks. Cheryl

    February 5, 2013
    • Yes Cheryl, that would be lovely and thank you for asking.
      Email me: jenn (at) jennjmcleod (dot) com. I’d love to know where your writing group is. I love the idea of local groups. I would not be where I am today without having a supportive network.

      February 5, 2013
  4. Yes, yes and yes, Jenn! I dreamed the dream for over forty years and did nothing abut it… apart from saying one day I am going to write a book. Life circumstances forced me to reconsider my career. So I wrote a book, I got published and I made a best seller list all in the year I turned 56! It’s never too late… there’s only the right time!

    February 5, 2013
  5. Thx for dropping by, Annie, and keep writing those stories.

    February 6, 2013
  6. Inspiring words, Jenn. I’m pretty sure I would’ve given up about 2 months after I started if it wasn’t for my F2F group and my many online writing friends!

    February 7, 2013
  7. Excellent post, Jenn. The on-line writing community takes away some of the isolation of being a writer. Sure, it can waste a whole lot of time as well, but as we both know friendships forged online can be just as powerful and supportive as those that are face to face.

    And every time we sit down to type a message, reply, browse someone’s blog we’re honing more writing skills anyway!

    Am sooo looking forward to your debut release in a matter of weeks!

    February 7, 2013
  8. Lovely post Jenn! Hit so many chords. I’m a late starter too …

    February 7, 2013
  9. Great post Jenn!

    February 7, 2013

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Month In Review with Steve Rossiter (February 2013) | Writing Novels in Australia

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: