Write. Rewrite. When not writing or rewriting, read. I know of no shortcuts. — Larry L. King
When I first put pen to paper (or fingertips to keypad) and began filling the pages of my novel, the process was exhilarating. When I shared my initial draft with family and friends and they applauded my writing, I was encouraged. But as I said in my first post on this blog, I soon discovered there was more to this business of writing fiction than I had first imagined. It’s true; I could have believed the flattery I received was sufficient, patted myself on the back, and jumped on the self-publishing train so as to quickly launch my book and pin on a shiny badge of authorship, but I’ve never been inclined to proudly wear something I haven’t yet fully earned. I knew I had dues to pay before I could really call myself a novelist. A writer, yes, but still only aspiring to be the author of a debut novel I could be proud of. And so I’ve learned to write, and rewrite, and rewrite again.
Hemingway didn’t mince words. Indeed, I do agree, and let me add: Shit don’t shine! And, you know, it might even stink a bit when fresh, making it especially important to clean up any boo-boos and polish things up well.
There are no shortcuts to becoming a successful, published author. One must learn the craft of writing, and then practice, practice, practice.
I take the craft of writing seriously, with pleasure, and with no small measure of patience. I think most writers feel the same—or at least they say they do—and I have no doubt they mean it, but I have noticed that in the sometimes heady rush to be a published author, patience—even the patience necessary to first learn the basic mechanics of writing, let alone refine the art of good storytelling—is often lacking.
Secure writers don’t sell first drafts. They patiently rewrite until the script is as director-ready, as actor-ready as possible. Unfinished work invites tampering, while polished, mature work seals its integrity.
― Robert McKee, Story
The truth is, in this digital age, anyone can publish a novel, even if the language is jibberish. Being able to write is no longer requisite to publishing, nor will filling pages with content that is pure nonsense stop a literary imposter from producing a book. For better or for worse, in the world of self-publishing, the traditional gatekeepers—professional agents, editors, and publishing houses—can go home, and the relative pros and cons of their doing so depend on your perspective.