I’ll admit it--when Gabriela first asked me to write one of her commencement speeches for DIY MFA, my reaction was…uh…why me? I don’t have an MFA. I’m not published yet. I’m not even cool. So what could I possibly say to inspire you guys?
But then I thought about how I got to be where I am right now.
I’d had an idea I’d been researching—but I kept putting off writing it. I’d tell my husband, next week. Next month.
I stalled for almost two years.
Then I went to an author event called Project Book Babe, where I met published writers for the first time. I wanted to be them. It was time to write the darn book.
Two months later I had an eight-figure-book-deal and I’d taken over the literary world.
Here’s what really happened:
I started Draft 1 in April 2009. By July, I was on Draft 7—and realizing that where I’d ended the book should really be the 2/3 point. I needed help. So I started reading author blogs and figured out what I was missing: critique partners.
By August I started my own blog, hoping to connect with other writers and swap pages. By October I’d found one. And I’d begun to learn about publishing. Agents. Queries. I realized if I was going to do this for real, I needed to educate myself—and fast.
So I followed agents’ blogs. Editors’ blogs. I registered for a writer’s conference. I took a query workshop. I added another awesome critique partner. All the while I was writing, writing, writing.
By November I was on Draft 11, and one of my CPs emailed me. You’re getting better, she said.
By mid January I typed the two words I hadn’t let myself type until that point (at least not together). The End. It was Draft 12.
I brought the first chapter of Draft 12 with me to the writer’s conference a few weeks later. I pitched my book to agents—and they asked for partials. My pages won a Conference Choice Award.
When I came home it took me three weeks of obsessing to send my query. (Okay, fine, maybe some of my CPs had to bully me into it—whatever!)
Two weeks later I had an offer of rep from my dream agent.
It had been just slightly less than eleven months since the day I decided it was time to start writing. And hopefully someday soon—once I finish yet another revision—I’ll sell my book and finally reach my dream of being published.
So why am I telling you this?
Because I’ve learned two things along that journey.
1. You have to educate yourself as much as possible. Read blogs. Get to know other writers. Learn all you can about writing and publishing—and then learn more. There is always more to learn.
2. In order to be a writer, you have to write.
So you’ve made HUGE progress with the first one by following this program. The wealth of information Gabriela has taken the time to provide is invaluable.
Now it’s time to write.
Whether you’re starting your first draft or revising for the thousandth time, the most important thing is to write.
Lose yourself in your story.
Don’t worry about making it perfect—that will come with revision. For now, just write—because each word you type brings you a little bit closer to your dream. So get started!
Happy writing everyone!