How Hard Is It To Be Published

Tuesday, March 22, 2011
I've decided to begin a new business venture. I'm going to be offering haircuts for $100 dollars. The extra money will be great. And I've got loads of talent. Seriously, I've been cutting things since kindergarten--paper, string, even my own meat at the dinner table. 

Also, the cost of set up is minimal. Heck, I already have chicken shears, which should work just fine. I mean really, if they can cut meat, they can cut hair . . . am I right or am I right. *chuckles and slaps knee*

Appointments will be anywhere from once a week or once a month, depending on my schedule--or how much money I need at the time.

Anyway, who's up for a haircut?!?

But really, why is it that when I started writing I thought it would be easier (as in, not so freakin' hard) to be published? When I started writing full time, I had a degree in English and a short story publication to my name. Yet it took me over five years, at least five writer's conferences, numerous workshops, six finished manuscripts--with three more in the works, and literally HUNDREDS of rejections before I finally had my debut coming out (I had a few close calls before that, but that's a REALLY long story).

I'm still nowhere near the writer that I want to be.

Often, we (me included) look at authors who have "made it," but we don't see the hours they spent in the classroom, reading books on the craft, drafting, brainstorming, writing, editing, driving to some conference or another, reading rejection after rejection. We fail to see their journey, instead only seeing their destination.

I will give one example: Stephen King. His father abandoned his family when Stephen was two. Shortly after, his mother moved home to care for her parents. He grew up poor. As a child, Stephen watched his friend die after being struck by a train. He started writing in high school, got a few things published in his school paper, a few fanzines. He had a daughter. He had a column in his college paper, worked at an industrial laundry, and finally received his degree in English. Unable to get a teaching job, he sold a few short stories to some magazines.

He married. He actually threw Carrie in the trash. His wife rescued it and urged him to finish. It was the first novel he published. Shortly after, his mother died and he began a decades long fall into alcoholism.

Does this give you an idea of the countless hours King spent perfecting his craft before any measurable success came his way? Of the pain that became his motivation? Of the struggle that made him strong? 

You HAVE to watch this video. It gave me all sorts of chills.

As in everything, greatness can only be achieved when pared with hard work and a dash of luck.


  1. You crack me up.

    I never started this thinking it was easy. I sometimes wonder why I even keep at it. But then I read a really good book and I have that feeling of pure joy after where I can't get the story or the characters out of my head...and I remember why we do what we do.

    I'm excited to read the Witch Song.

  1. I love your analogy. It made me smile. I think the truth of it is what scares me so much because I waiting so long to pursue this education, I'm afraid I may not live long enough to ever be good enough.

  1. I like your analogy, too. Everybody can write, right? For me writing is like a lot of things worth having--way more trouble than I thought it would be, a source of joy, and ultimately a reason to get up in the morning.

  1. Yeah, I think it's important to know our goals, but be happy with where we are and appreciate the amount of work that goes into it. I'm putting up a post today about loving where we are. I think it makes a huge difference in what we write.

  1. Deborah: I'm glad I made you laugh. If it makes you feel any better, somedays I wonder the same thing. :) I hope you like Witch.

    Donna: You're never too old to do what you love. Besides, you're what, in your 50s? Plenty of time.

    JoLynne: Exactly.

    Michelle: So true.

  1. Unknown said...:

    Hey, Amber - not being the writer you want to be is good - it means you're always striving for better :)

  1. Wow, I did not know all of this about SK. Carrie is the only novel I've read of him!

  1. Thank you for this post. I have yet to enter the querying process, but I know it will be a rough, brutal road. Thank you for sharing Stephen King's story with us. I never knew his hardships. Behind every author, there is a story. I think only us writers realize it! To everyone else, it's like "magic."

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