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 One day you're unpublished, the next day someone has offered you a deal.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.