Monday, 12 December 2011

K is for Keeping the Faith

I heard a few weeks ago that a writer friend, Liz Harris, has had her novel accepted. I emailed my congratulations, and she wrote back, including this phrase:

"It's very strange what an acceptance can do. I've been writing for seven years, and the day before I heard from Choc Lit, it felt all of that seven years; the day after, it feels like only a day."

I'm thrilled for Liz, whose novel will be coming out in 2012. Also out in 2012 will be another writing friend's book, a memoir this time. I met her on my MA course back in 2001. She's waited ten years to get that deal.

To be an over-night success usually means years of toiling away at your craft or business. When I was acting, you knew that the very next casting might mean an instant change - it happened to me when one Monday I hadn't heard of Only Fools and Horses, by Tuesday I was auditioning for the role of Rodney's girlfriend, on Thursday I had the part, on Friday I was in wardrobe for a photo shoot, and the following Monday I was on set.

Writing's the same. One day you're unpublished, the next day someone has offered you a deal. Hooray! But when we hear of the success stories, we forget all those years that the writer has quietly kept the faith with their creativity, working at their craft, improving, learning to write better.

Keeping the faith is hard, especially as family, friends and work colleagues often don't understand. It's easier if you can be part of a community - I know Liz through the Romantic Novelists Association, which is very supportive and welcoming to new writers. Read books, join classes, subscribe to writing magazines - anything that keeps you connected to writing will help you keep the faith.


Philip C James said...

Yes, congratulations to Liz on her success, Bravo Zulu!

You're so well connected you must pick up on these success-after-long-toil stories all the time and thanks for passing them on to the lonely apprentice scribbler in their garret. It helps when keeping the faith to know and hear about the faithful.

What your writing and your acting have in common I think, apart from the creativity and the financial reward, is the pleasure you get/got out of them.

So aim your sights on publication and monetary compensation because if nothing else that will apply a degree of professional rigour to your achievement but above all enjoy the process as you're living it. Vicars do become Bishops but not all of them. Good luck if you succeed; enjoy the experience if sadly you don't.

Kath said...

I think what you say about staying connected to writing is crucial to keeping the faith. Being on Twitter and Facebook and being able to share (online or real) friends' experiences and successes helps keep me going. It's good to know that, despite all the gloomy predictions about the publishing industry, people are still breaking through and getting published. It does make plodding on much less painful, particularly when you have to deal with family members who want to know why you're not yet published!

Sarah Duncan said...

Actually Phil, several people have contacted me to remind me that I could have quoted them! New writers are getting deals all the time, so keep on with the scribbling in the garret.

Kath, yes, it's really hard keeping family at bay. They just don't understand. One of mine helpfully told me that he'd heard having an agent was a good idea for a writer. Yes - that's why I have one! Stay connected, make new connections - it's all part and parcel of writing. Hang in there.