There’s a great line at the end of the steamy early-‘80s film, Body Heat. Speaking of the character played by Kathleen Turner, the character played by William Hurt says, “She was…relentless.”
That’s true of writing and publishing too.
In November 1994, I left my day job of 11 years as a bookseller to take a chance on myself as a writer. Over the next two months, I spent every day working on my first novel, Waiting for Dead Men’s Shoes, which will soon be published as an ebook 18 years later. It was a comedic mystery set in a bookstore. I can still remember the day I finished the first draft. It was the middle of January, there was a blizzard going on outside, my husband was off skiing, and in a mad sprint of writing I completed the last 15 pages – more than I’d ever written in a single day in my life. I was so excited, but with no one around to share that excitement, I decided to go for a walk. I used to walk for an hour each day, still do. That particular walk went like this: For the first 30 minutes, I was all elation, completely thrilled with my accomplishment. All my life, I’d dreamed of being a writer, of completing a novel. And now, finally, I’d achieved that dream. How wonderful was this? How wonderful was I? But as the timing of that walk reached 30 minutes and I turned for home, as the 31st minute began, a different voice began talking in my brain, and that insidious voice said: “Sure, you did it once…but can you do it again?”
That voice, that relentless voice…
Writers always have to do it again. There’s never a moment, or at least not a very long moment, when you get to rest on your laurels, declaring your work done. There is always another mountain to climb. If you’ve finished writing a book, you need to revise that book; finish writing, you need to hunt for an agent; finish your agent search successfully, that agent needs to find a publisher; book published, you need to promote it; while promoting it, you better be working on that next book – better yet, have it already completed – so you can have a follow-up before the world forgets who you are. The ebook revolution has changed some of that – in that it’s not necessary, depending on your preference, to go the agent/publisher route – but the relentlessness remains; in some ways even more so, for if you don’t get people to buy your book, who will?
So how to combat that endless relentlessness?
The greatest tool any writer has – outside of writing talent! – is resilience. You need to be able to, when confronted with the relentlessness of it all, simply power through. When you’re a writer, in some form or another, people say no to you all the time. “No, I don’t want to represent you.” “No, I don’t want to publish your book.” “No, I’m not interested in reviewing your book.” No, no, no. So what? No matter how many people said no to you yesterday, no matter how bad yesterday was, today you get up and you write and you do whatever you need to do to keep your dream moving forward.
Since my first book was published over nine years ago, hardly a day has gone by when I wasn’t promoting a book, revising a book or writing a new book – often all three in the same day! Two days ago, I finished the first draft of a new book. Does that mean I’m done with my work? No, I’m never done with my work. Today I’m revising that book, promoting the last book, and planning the next book.
I will never be done with my work.
And that’s OK.
This business may be relentless, but I am resilient.
Lauren Baratz-Logsted is the author of 26 books – and counting! – for adults, teens and children. You can read more about her life and work at www.laurenbaratzlogsted.com or follow her on Twitter at @LaurenBaratzL