I want to put that all alone because it is the central point of this blog. It’s all about the writing. Everything else is fundamentally by way of amplification or refinement.
I’m teaching an advanced class on writing fantasy at the moment, one aimed at people who’ve completed at least one novel and who are serious about pursuing publication and I’ve told them several times that if they only take one thing away from my class it is this:
On the broader stage, I am trying to teach them techniques of craft, ways to think critically about their work, and how to form alliances with other writers to help them move forward. I’m showing them how to put together synopses and to see and talk about the hooks in their work. I am exposing the realities of the hard slog that is the norm in the quest for publication. I want them to understand the realities so that 50 or 100 rejections become a mark of honor, a sign of things written and submitted instead of a soul-crushing obstacle. But amongst all the lecture and critique and questions asked and answered I keep repeating two things.
1. Take everything I say as a tool to be used or discarded as it suits your needs. If something I tell you helps you to write, use it. If it stops you, discard it and find something that gets you writing.
2. There are 1,000 and 1 ways to write a book and every one of them is right. Find what works for you and use it to write.
Are you seeing a theme?
Write more. Write again. Revise. Send out. Write more. All of those things are predicated on the initial writing. You achieve success in this business by the expedient of writing, improving your writing, and not giving up. The formula is a simple one to lay out but it can be awfully hard to follow, especially the not giving up part.
Being published takes time and effort and deep down-in-the-bone stubborn. It takes craft and talent and luck and more than a little blood sweat and tears to boot. But mostly it takes this:
(Originally published on the Wyrdsmiths blog October 23 2007, and original comments may be found there. Reposted and reedited as part of the reblogging project)