I often get asked about my path to being a published author and I ask if the person has a few hours to spare. There’s a common saying among writers: Ask a thousand writers about their journey and you’ll get a thousand different stories.
To me it felt like I always wanted to be a writer. My first memory of my decision was reading a Judy Blume book at six years old then telling my sister I wanted to write books one day. It took me over thirty years to achieve my dream. I didn’t pursue writing seriously until after giving birth to my first child. During my leave from the law I wrote a screenplay about two runners based off of my husband’s stories of his collegiate years. Without knowing the rules, I snail mailed it to over a hundred producers, contests, and studios. I’ll blame it on lack of sleep but ignorance was bliss. In between all the return letters telling me I was a novice for sending the script without querying first there were some positive responses! It was all the encouragement I needed. I concocted a foolproof plan for success. I scheduled my writing hours in between my son’s sleep time and work. I committed myself to publishing my first book or selling my first movie before he turned one. Unfortunately, my firstborn didn’t agree with my commitment. My second-born sided with him. The plan promptly fell apart.
In between raising my children I wrote what I could - screenplays, short stories, monologues for plays and novels. I bought every book I could find that gave advice on how to make it as a writer. I copyrighted every piece of writing (no matter how terrible and there was plenty) with the Library of Congress and the Writers Guild.
I sent screenplays to contests and short stories to literary magazines. Every rejection letter received was immediately handed to my children to practice their scissor cutting skills on. For every step forward there were two back. However, I refused to give up because a trip to any bookstore proved that it could be done. Soon a few things were published. I became an ABC/Disney Fellowship Finalist. Awards and commendations started coming in. With them in hand I put together a query letter for agents along with the first chapter of my novel. Over a hundred agents asked for my book. Two offered to sign me. My scream of joy could be heard down the block. There have been many starts and stops since but all I could think then was: Finally. And it only took thirty years after my declaration.
My advice to writers would be to 1) Never give up 2) Never give up your day job. You don’t know how long the journey will take, but if financial desperation distracts you then you may lose sight of your passion. My road to success was a long and arduous one but I know many others who found success after their first few tries. It is impossible to predict but the most important thing is to never give up. And write. Write in every genre and medium you are comfortable with. Read everything you can in those genres. Send your writing to every contest, magazine, and agent who will read it. Give yourself the opportunity to succeed. If being a writer is what you want then you can make it happen. Best of luck. :-)