Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Just Keep Writing!

by Kathleen Ernst

Last November I wrote a post I titled Gratitude about why I feel grateful to be a working writer, despite the inherent challenges.   Most comments were positive, but I did receive one message from an aspiring writer whose basic message was, “Easy for you to say, oh published one.”

I did try to stress that making my way along the writer’s path has not always easy.  Perhaps a few more examples will help:

image*In the 11th grade, I once received a zero on a writing assignment—“because the work was not good enough to earn an F.”

* I wrote at least a dozen novels before one was picked up for publication.  Probably more; I stopped counting at some point.

* The first time I entered a novel in a statewide contest, the judge for my category chose to not acknowledge any entry that year.

Ouch, ouch, ouch.

I’m celebrating the publication of my 25th book, a children’s mystery called Traitor in the Shipyard, and I’m under contract for two more books. Does that mean I’ve passed some magic mark where everything I write gets published?  Not hardly. I have a handful of manuscripts that I love, that I worked on for years, but have never landed on the right desk at the right time.

My beloved agent of ten years recently returned to the editorial side of the business.  When we talked about our momentous decade together, she summarized what she saw as perhaps my greatest strength: “You just keep writing.”

To that I’d add always trying to improve my work and striving to understand the business end of writing.  Nonetheless, if there is a single strategy that got me where I am, it’s simply that. Despite frustrations, disappointments, and setbacks, I just kept—and keep—writing.

I wish  you aspiring writers all success!

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8 comments:

Shannon Baker said...

Thank you so much for this post! Sometimes it's one step forward, two steps back but I so appreciate hearing your journey.

Kathleen Ernst said...

Shannon, I know *exactly* what you mean! All we can do is hang in there and keep plugging away.

Heidiwriter said...

Absolutely--keeping on writing, keep on learning the craft, and keep on persevering! Good job, Kathleen!

storysharer said...

I appreciate your wise words, Kathleen. I've known several talented writers who didn't have your tenacity. You deserve success.

G.M. Malliet said...

Kathleen - Writing for children is probably a thousand times harder than writing for adults. Kudos!

Beth Groundwater said...

You are the Energizer Bunny of writing, Kathleen, and a role model to us all!

Mary E. Trimble said...

Kathleen, you are an inspiration, both as a writer and as someone who gives of heself. I learned so much working with you on WWW projects. I am honored to know you.

sheri levy said...

It is encouraging to hear that if I keep writing, I'll get the hang of putting words together. When I get discouraged I mull it over for a few days and find myself back at the keyboard. The fun part is the creating. Without my writing buddies I may have quit, but together we push each other and grow stronger and more dedicated.