Please read before you partake in this journey
The journey to becoming a published author could best be described by Robert Frost:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I — I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.
I’m sure most of you have heard this quote before, and it should stick with you through every lesson. Becoming a published author is like pursuing a career as a professional athlete, many try, but few succeed. Even if you do manage to fall through the cracks, you have to make sure that your name and work will remain relevant to the world around you. I’m sure you have heard this before too, but you should take these words seriously because I will be able to hand you the key to your future if you use them wisely.
Be prepared to be in this battle for the long haul. Yes, I’m talking years, decades, and possibly a lifetime for some. There have been plenty of authors, poets, and painters who became famous well after they passed on from this earth.
Should I ask how you’re feeling? You likely thought I was going to give you a step-by-step guide to becoming the next J.K. Rowling. Well, I hate to break it to you buddy, I’m even decades away from that milestone.
Tough love will break the shackles of your mind, allowing your work to flow through your fingertips. To quote Darth Sidious before me coaching young Anakin Skywalker, “I could feel your anger, it makes you stronger.” Wise words from Palpatine in Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith. Now, I normally wouldn’t urge you to take advice from a Sith Lord, but believe me when I say there’s a silver lining to all this.
If you are not able to use your emotions, digging deep into the feelings of your mind, including the horror of your unconscious mind, you might as well give up the fight to become a novelist now. You have to be able to get in touch with your feelings, and for starters, anger is usually the easiest. Remember, as writer, you have the power of creating your own worlds, so if you don’t like something that happened to you, you can change it!
No, worlds is not a typo, I didn’t mean world, I definitely meant worlds. The power is yours my apprentice. Are you feeling the power of the dark side yet?
Now that you’re filled with doubt and anxiety, I’m going to give you the final dip of the emotional roller-coaster you experience in your pursuit of authorhood. Be prepared to let the words of naysayers roll off your back. Those naysayers could be the people closest to you, including your family, lover, or closest friend. Now, most people would say, are these people really worth your time if they don’t support you? The answer is yes and no.
Your parents will always be your parents, just ask Paulo Coelho, author of the famed novel, The Alchemist. It will be pretty hard to dismiss their feelings about you pursuing a career in pencil pushing. Yes, I can assure you that’s what most of your parents will hear if you tell them you’re going to be a novelist. The rare exception is in the case that your father is Nelson DeMille, who recently co-wrote a novel with his son Alex DeMille titled, The Deserter. Mr. DeMille, I commend you for helping your son along to further his career as a writer.
Could you have a parent, friend, or lover that is extremely supportive? Absolutely! I have had one in each category. However, I’m warning you to be prepared for the skeptics who will love to talk about your pipe dreams of being a writer while they continue working hard at a job they hate or talk about the good old days when there were no typing computers and people had to read books by candlelight. Trust me when I say the reasons why you won’t make it will come in a number higher than one thousand.
So, back to making you want to quit. Consider me Mr. Miyagi and you’re Danielson (insert Miyagi’s iconic accent here). In case you don't know this reference, it's from The Karate Kid.
You will constantly ask me why I am making you wax a car or paint a fence, in this case, why I’m telling you to travel or watch a movie instead of writing.
A dear friend of mine once told me, “Trust the process,” and that is what I will ask you to do.
Now ask yourself, “Do you have what it takes to be a published novelist?”
If the answer is, “Yes”, then you have passed the first test young padawan.
The odds of getting a novel published are about one in one million, so you likely have just as much of a chance as winning the Powerball. The odds become even worse when you decide to self-publish.
Do you want to know what I said when someone told me the odds? “Fuck the Powerball! Now if you're ready.... continue onto Lesson 1!