Friday, May 28, 2010

THE WRITE WHISPER: Resilience


Publishing is a fluid industry.
Ever-changing, challenging, trends come and go.
So as an author, how do you survive?
Resilience.
It's a quality schools are big on instilling in kids.
About learning how to cope with hard knocks.
About moving on when things don't go your way.
About adapting.
About learning to forge ahead when things are against you.
Here's a publishing example:
People congratulate me on selling 24 books in 6 years. While not easy, some assume that once you get a contract with Harlequin Mills and Boon that you can keep writing for them for infinity.
Hmmm...myth.
The reality for me? I've had 5 editors and they've all been brilliant but after I had my first child I wrote 2 books in 8 weeks.
Yes, you read that correctly.
Maybe it was being high on happy hormones?
Maybe the lack of sleep?
Maybe because I'd worked full time until then and suddenly had loads of time on my hands while baby slept?
Whatever the reason, I wrote those books and thought they were brilliant.
And they didn't sell.
I'd had a change of editor and those books didn't fly.
So what did I do?
Worked on a few proposals, found one she liked and wrote that book instead.
That book too was on the verge of rejection but I knew I could revise it so I did and it sold.
After selling 5 books with barely a revision, those 2 rejections could've knocked me down.
I could've stopped writing, bemoaned the fact I'd never sell another book, whatever.
Instead, I used the experience to spur me on.
I wanted to take my writing to the next level.
Resilience=how we cope when the going gets tough.
Once you're published, there is no magical fairy godmother who waves a wand over all your manuscripts and makes them instantly publishable.
You still need to work at it.
You still need to produce your best work time and time again to secure more contracts.
You still need to keep striving.
I do.
Every single day when I sit down at my keyboard I want to prove to myself I can still do this, that I can go one better.
It's what drives me. What keeps me up and writing when the trends change and sales you expect don't materialise and the book of your heart isn't what's hot right now.
There are loads of resources to learn writing craft.
Only you can refine resilience.
(PS. Those 2 rejected manuscripts? Reworked and sold a few years later. One was MARRIAGE: FOR BUSINESS OR PLEASURE? a recent RT Top Pick. Another of my mottos? Never say never!)

17 comments:

Jill said...

This is a wonderful reminder. Just got a rejection for a short story today. Not the first rejection either, not by a long shot. Ouch! But I believe in this story and there are still markets I want to submit it to.
And if it still doesn't sell, I still have other stories I want to write, to submit.
Thank you!

Helena Carlo said...

Wow. I love when successful authors speak of their own rejections in the past. Being in the trenches, it gives me a little boost of inspiration.
Thanks, Nicola. Lovely post. :)

Natalie Anderson said...

You rock!

Nicola Marsh said...

You're welcome, Jill.

And you're demonstrating great resilience :)

Believing in yourself, in your writing, is half the battle.
Good luck!

Nicola Marsh said...

I know what it's like in the trenches, Helena. A very apt description :)

Nicola Marsh said...

Thanks Nat :)

Lisa Desrochers said...

Two books in eight weeks?! Holy %*@^! You have a great attitude, and it (along with all your hard work) has paid off. Hope I can be like you.

Lacey Devlin said...

Great post Nic! And wow to the five editors! You definitely have to have resilience

Nicola Marsh said...

It was the hormones, Lisa. Had to be. That and all the extra time I suddenly had.
Crazy!

Nicola Marsh said...

You do in this biz, Lacey, that's for sure :)

Sally Clements said...

Thats a wonderful post, Nic. And the two subsequent sales prove that nothing is ever wasted. Even if it doesn't sell, you learn from it, grow in your writing from it (I'm talking me, not you! You're super!).
And resilience is the key. When an editor rejects a book, thats all she's doing. Rejecting a book. Not rejecting you as a writer, just saying the book you've written doesn't work for her. Its easy to feel that an editor doesn't like you, but all you can do is try and look at the feedback honestly, and see if you can work out why she doesn't like it. If you can do that, you can fix it.
Still haven't managed to persuade a M&B editor I've got what it takes, but working on it!

Rebecca B said...

"You still need to keep striving." Your whole post is chock-full of wonderful and honest advice. Thanks for writing it!

Margaret Mayo said...

So well put, Nicola. Even after 75+ books I still need that resilience. I still get knocks. Nothing's ever for certain in this industry. It's all a matter of picking yourself up, dusting yourself down, and starting all over again.

Nicola Marsh said...

Sally,
everything you said should be in a post all by itself.
Brilliant stuff!

And yes, you're talking about me too, because I did learn from those rejections and grow from it.

I think it's why I wrote this post, to show pubbed authors keep growing and learning too, it's not always easy :)

And fingers crossed M&B eds love you soon :)

Nicola Marsh said...

You're welcome, Rebecca :)

And your post today is fab, describes me perfectly! You sure you didn't write about me? ;)

Nicola Marsh said...

OMG, Margaret, I swoon at your 75+ books! You're amazing.
And so honest in saying it never gets easier.
Thank you!

Nicola Marsh said...

Lisa,
you know when I say 2 books in 8 weeks I mean category romance, right? 50K words?