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:
*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!