Monday, March 7, 2011

Alice in Wonderland

I have written enough during a 35-year career on newspapers to fill a small library. I have been part of several departments that have been ranked among the 10 best in America. I know how to be a manager. I know how to write for journalism. I know how to edit other writers. But nothing ... absolutely nothing ... in all that experience prepared me for the world of publishing ... the agent-and-publishing house side of creativity.

I know I'm not alone. This blog is designed for all the first-timers to get together and commiserate.

Good agents get hundreds of queries (the name of the short pitch an aspiring writer sends) a week. Very, very few of those aspiring writers are invited into the select circle of published authors. Hence, I know there is a crowded world of first-timers out there, so let's share some of our stories.

I believe there is one thing that unites all of us: We believe intensely in our work. I spent a year of my life carving out time to write and edit my novel, all while working a fulltime job and handling the duties of spouse/son/father/grandfather/etc. I would arm myself with a few cups of coffee to shake off the early morning cobwebs, head to my computer and compose. If the creative spirit was really moving, I would bury myself in this world I was creating until a glance at the clock showed it was midafternoon and I had to get ready to go to my other job (which has a much smaller window for creativity). But I would emerge from that writing session feeling so energized. I counted the hours until the next splashes of coffee and immersion into the world I was building.

Now comes the hard part ... getting this labor of love sold. I don't want to go the self-publishing route, which means I have to find an agent. Easier said than done. There are hundreds of them, but an individual agent is pummeled by authors who are just as committed to their works as I am to mine. I called this blog The First-Timers knowing that there was a bit of a sexual context to the title. Getting an agent and getting published is a little like a single person imagining a wedding night. You know it probably will be great. If you are realistic, you also know the ensuing marriage will take lots of hard work and a fair bit of sacrifice. But reaching the wedding night and getting an agent have a similar dilemma ... you have to find someone who believes in you as much as you believe in yourself.

I'll touch on that agent part of this world in my next post. In the meantime, keep writing, keep creating, keep believing.

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