Welcome to a new column featured on my blog. The Wednesday Writer answers some of the questions readers ask about the writing process in general and writing for publication, specifically.
The first time I walked into a bookstore to buy a Writers’ Market, I hung around in the back corner for twenty minutes before I found the courage to approach the check out counter. When the clerk asked if I was a writer, I felt like an identity thief. I stammered “Yes” for the first time in my life. I’d been scribbling for more than ten years, but I hadn’t told anyone besides my mother and my husband.
“Wonderful,” she said. “Come back when you publish your first novel and we’ll hold a book signing.”
It would be another five years before I actually published anything. A fun article for Mother Earth News called, “How to Barter with Your Local Doctor.” (They never published the piece, but I got the check. And my doctor-husband kept getting zucchini and sweet corn in trade.)
My first novel came out more than thirty years later. Don’t despair! Your path may be much smoother and faster than mine. When I started writing, Inspirational Women’s Fiction didn’t even exist. We didn’t have bonnet fiction in those days. (Stories set in the Amish community, which sell in the billions now.) Christian fiction in general was a brand new genre, and few publishers accepted manuscripts. In those days, I wrote first-person essays and spiritual growth articles for magazines like Christian Herald. And, I held the other stories close to my heart, hoping for a day when the world might want to hear from Jonas ben Jesse, the shepherd boy at the stable. (That one has not been published yet, in case you wondered.)
I did go back to the original bookstore when Thirty Days to Glory came out. They had become a gift shop and didn’t do book signings anymore, according to a younger clerk. But, I haven’t given up. People sign books in all kinds of places these days, and that one is still on my list.
So, if You Want to be a Writer, this column might be a good place to start. Next week, we will talk about why we write. In the meantime, be brave. Tell somebody.
Resources: The Writers’ Market