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: www.jennjmcleod.com
Writing Novels in Australia