The Cold, Hard Truth

Today I am pleased to welcome guest blogger Jonathan Evison, author of All About Lulu, and the upcoming West of Here. In addition to being a splendid writer, Jonathan is a tireless friend to writers published and unpublished, as well as the subject of a great Author interview. Take it away, Jon.

So, you wanna' be an author? You want it more than you've ever wanted anything, right? You've always wanted it. It's your destiny. You just finished your first novel. You're twenty-four years old, or fifty-eight. It took you nine weeks, or fourteen years. It took every ounce of grit you had to write it, every spare moment you could steal to work and rework it. It almost cost you your marriage. It is the sum total of our life experience, of all the wisdom you've gleaned, all the emotional baggage you've gathered, all the catharsis you've ever known. It is the single greatest thing you've ever accomplished. You wanna' be an author?

My advice: bury it. Save yourself all the postage, and the meticulously crafted query letters, and all the agent profiling, and all the gas-inducing suspense of would-be authordom, and just bury the fucker. And start a second one as soon as possible, because you'll probably be burying that one, too. You wanna' be an author? Bottom line: unless you absolutely have to write, unless writing is such a compulsion that you'd write ten novels without ever having a reader, you won't make it. That's how deep you gotta' dig.

The good news is, if you're willing to starve for fifteen or twenty years, completely and willfully stunt your occupational possibilities in every other conceivable arena (the temp agencies won't even touch you), run up twenty grand in credit card debt, collect five hundred rejections, spend two thousand dollars in postage, break a few hearts (including your own), hawk your saxophone, throw your typewriter off a bridge, consider a real estate license, and spend endless agonizing hours by yourself biting your cuticles, awash in self-doubt, just to be an author, well, then you've actually got a decent shot at making it. Somebody might finally publish one of your books. And if you're not really really really careful, it'll be the last book you ever publish, because the real battle begins. But that's a different blog. One step at a time. First bury those novels.

For the record, my “first” novel, All About Lulu, was my seventh, and it was at least seven times better than the first one, which is buried behind a trailer court in Sunnyvale, California. I went back once, and guess what? Nothing grows in that spot.

Jonathan Evison is the author of All About Lulu, which won the 2009 Washington State Book Award, and the forthcoming West of Here (fall '10, Algonquin). He blogs at Three Guys, One Book

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