I was actually going to post on a different topic this morning, but like most of my writing times, inspiration for a different topic struck me. I was driving the hour commute this morning and started pondering life decisions. That got me to reminiscing, which does lead to regrets. I always try to tell my students to learn from their “mistakes.” I say that success in life is not judged by the wrong turns and the failures, but by if we learned from them or not. With this mindset, I try not to regret my decisions in life. They have all lead me to where I am today. More importantly, they have all made me who I am today. I would not be the same writer, the same person, the same anything without those decisions. So, to say I would take them back is a hard statement for me to make. But, I do have slight regrets on the “what I should have done” side. I decided to build a list for anyone looking to publish.
My Regrets: A List of What I’ve Learned as a Writer
1. Do your research. I heard this a lot going into the writing field. It doesn’t always have to do with the story, though. Do your research on who you are querying. I always equate these to the singing competitions on television, because I still feel they are an accurate portrayal of the path toward getting published. Let’s say someone is a gospel singer. They wouldn’t go onto these shows demanding to sing only gospel. It’s not the audience base. Now, I’ve known of a lot of singers who leave these shows and start a career in the Christian market, but they tailored their songs for the show. Know who you are pitching to.
2. Know what it means to be an independent author. This new form of authors includes those who self-publish (either straight to e-book or by a self-publishing house). I have come to admire these authors tremendously. I think most people sit back and think this is a lazy way of publishing. I heard one agent say these people didn’t have the strength to battle through the traditional way and took the easy way out. I have since learned that she was either ignorant or an idiot. True, some people get into the self-published route because they think it’ll be easier. But do your research. These people work hard. If done right, the authors have to be a writer, publisher, publicist, speaker, everything. They have to make sure they edit and re-edit. They have to find people to make good cover designs. They have to know how to sell. They have to format their books and edit again. This step should take a few months, not a few seconds, if done right. I don’t know if I am worthy to join with the likes of these types of entrepreneurial people, but am tempted to try.
3. Have the courage to accept that maybe the rejections have a point. I once heard a woman say at a conference that there is a reason works are rejected. Sometimes it’s stupid reasons like it’s not the right time or it wasn’t the right fit. But, sometimes it is because the work is not quite right, but with work and training can become awesome. Again look at the singing and dancing reality shows. Some people come on and are not quite there. But then they come back in another season after training and BAM, they win it all. Have the courage to really look at the work and ask if there is something that can be improved. Are you almost there, just waiting for the one piece of training that can push it through?
There we go. My reflections for the morning. I hope they are of some help. Are there any regrets or words of wisdom you have found over the years? Please feel free to write them in the comments below.