Monday, December 17, 2012

Writing: The Odyssey

Last night, a dear friend gave me this wonderful box of chocolate bars:

You have to admit that there's something tantalizing about the phrase "a dark chocolate tasting odyssey."  You may not be able read the smaller print, so allow me to share the interesting and unexpected flavors included in this collection:
  • black sea salt with caramel
  • orange hibiscus
  • coconut caramel
  • chili cinnamon
  • almond ginger
  • salt and pepper potato chip
  • coffee and cocoa nib
(I know; we should all have friends like this, right??)

If someone were to hand us a beautiful box on the day we first embarked on our writing journey, and say, "Inside this box are all the steps of your journey; take a look!", we would likely find an equally unexpected, disparate collection of events.  And it might be tempting to know everything ahead of time: How long will it take me to get an agent?  When will I be published?  What will the deal look like?  Will I be rich and famous?

But, honestly, would you want to know?  Would it encourage or discourage you to know that it was going to take to you 5 years to land an agent?  (That's how long it took me.)  Would it encourage or discourage you to know that the first book your agent goes out with won't sell, despite some amazingly positive responses?  (That's what happened to me.)  Would it encourage or discourage you to know that you were not, after all, destined to be the next J.K. Rowling?  (I'm still holding out for that one.)

The journey is hard...and it is wonderful.  I wouldn't have wanted to know ahead of time that the next flavor was orange hibiscus.  It would have given me time to wish for something different, and find dissatisfaction with what was placed before me.  Because EVERY STEP OF OUR JOURNEYS IS AN IMPORTANT ONE.

Even the steps that hurt.  The steps that suck.  The steps that make us want to quit a thousand times, or maybe die a little.

It's only in hindsight that the value of these steps becomes clear.  I am so thankful for my own journey, and I wouldn't want to change it.  I'm feeling excited and encouraged as I move forward, and I'll open the next bar of chocolate when it's handed to me.

And, yes.  It's two years today since I signed with Josh.  He's my agent-from-heaven, and it's hard to express how profoundly he's affected my writing and my life-as-writer.  In the midst of a persnickety market, he's remained focused and enthusiastic and ridiculously optimistic.  And I love him for it.

May your own journey be as blessed.  And may friends with fine chocolate show up at your doorstep whenever you need it most.


  1. Beautifully stated. Would I want to know? Probably not. Part of me would be tempted to look at the end to see if I 'made it' or not, but I don't think I'd do that. I've never been one for skipping ahead or reading the last page first.

  2. Can't even tell you how much I love this post.
    Well said Authoress. Well said.
    And isn't it amazing how it's the discouraging steps, even the setbacks that make the whole process more rich and beautiful? I would be so lost if not for those. Regardless of the tears shed and the number of times I stomped my feet, I too am thankful for all of it. Good and bad.
    Thanks for the great reminder this morning. I needed it.

  3. I wouldn't want to know - even if things *did* turn out amazingly, the surprise is half the delight, isn't it? And if, as is more usual, my road is long and bumpy, well, better to celebrate the little things along the way and take each moment as it comes.

    You have such a fantastic attitude -here's to a huge book auction for you next year! :)

  4. This post is so apropos, it nearly brought tears to my eyes. Thank you.

  5. Thank you so much for sharing your journey, reminding us to be patient, and commiserating about how hard it is to do that, and most of all for your continued support of our writing community. Your blog and contests have helped me so much. I'm eternally grateful. :-)

  6. Beautiful post!

    Besides touching my heart with a wonderful sentiment, it sent me scurrying downstairs searching for chocolate. Had to settle for a bite sized Snickers.

  7. What an inspiring post and a reminder to relish the journey (good and bad parts) to reach our dreams.

  8. Thank you for the beautiful thoughts, Authoress. They remind me of an old Japanese saying I found recently: Cherish every encounter, it will not recur.

  9. Lovely and true.
    And timely.
    (Not only did I get no bites in the auction, a previous SA just passed on a different work. )

    But, I am an optimist, and will continue the journey, wiser for the steps taken with MSFV, and encouraged by Awesome Authoress. There is some reason we are so driven to write!

    Now, if only there were a Trader Joe's within 3 hours of here.....

  10. Authoress,

    You are just as good as a "friend with chocolates who just showed up at my door". Today I really needed this post! Thank you and enjoy all the chocolates and the many steps too!!

  11. I loved this post!

    When I first started writing, I'm pretty sure I wanted someone to hand me a beautiful box with my writing journey neatly laid out. I wanted to hear it was going to be smooth and easy, and full of rainbows and butterflies every step of the way. So if someone would have told me how many rejections I would receive and how many unpublished books I would write, I would have quit before I even started.

    I would never sign up for the writing journey I've had, but I would not change one part of it. I still hate receiving rejections, but I know the sum of them have helped make me a more empathetic person. And the friends I've made along the way are completely irreplaceable!

    So even if I never get an agent or a book deal, I am so thankful for what I've learned and the people I've met, and that I've been able to do it all through one of the things I love the most!

  12. I love this post so much -- and I love the comments everyone has put up. The writing journey is indeed a process, and along the way it teaches us a lot about writing, about publishing, about other authors, and most of all, about ourselves and why we write. I have come to think it helps us build the foundations we need to become successful as published authors. Let's face it, rejection and criticism from readers is every bit as painful -- and often far more public -- than rejection from editors or agents. But we persevere, we learn to accept it, we learn to grow from it, and we learn to support it each other.

    The journey is a gift, in its own way.

    Thanks for the reminder! :)

    Best (and happy holidays!)


  13. What a wonderful, inspiring post. Thank you.

  14. I loved this post--such wise advice. Thank you for the inspiring reminder to enjoy the journey, wherever it may lead.

  15. It's tempting to want to know what awaits us, but in the end, the journey needs to unfold with each footfall to give us time to take in the sights.

    Thank you for letting us share in your journey.

  16. Thanks for the great post, Authoress. I have to say, I got turned down by an agent who bid on my work in the Baker's Dozen. I was so disappointed, it took me a couple of days to read your post!

    But I'm really glad I did and I can see from the above comments that others were glad you shared your gift.

    I'm going to take the great comments I got from the contest, improve my work, and get back in the trenches.

    Thanks for the support!

  17. I do and don't want to know.

    I don't want to know how long querying will take me, but I do want to know that it's successful, eventually. I don't want to know if my first book-- or, heck, second or fifth-- sells, but I would like to know I get sold.

    It'd just make it so much easier to ignore the 'you should just quit now, self-publish an e-book, who cares that you're crud at self-promotion' thoughts.

  18. Wonderful post, Authoress.

    No, I wouldn't have wanted to know all the steps in my journey. Not only because some would have been daunting (nine years and five manuscripts to find an agent, to name one) but also because the surprises (that fifth manuscript selling in 30 days, in a 3-book deal, again to name one) would have been muted by knowing them in advance.

    My agent once advised me to "celebrate every step in the process" because they are all special and many of "firsts" can come only once. Fantastic advice. Even the less-exciting moments, and some of the sad ones, are important steps in the writer's journey. Savor them all.

    I do prefer a map for my chocolates though...

  19. Love this post! You're absolutely right. I don't want to know. The anticipation and excitement of doing what I love is enough. :)

  20. Ms A, you are the best. I love working with you, and getting to know so many good, optimistic, talented writers through you. Our journey is still ongoing, and I look forward to more and more stops along the way. Happy holidays everyone--and keep writing! Josh

  21. Thank you Authoress for this post. I am new to this journey of writing. I have wondered what my steps will be but, tempting as it might be I do not want to know how long it will take either. I appreciate your insight and others who have commented. I know I am not alone as a writer.
    What a good feeling.
    Happy Holidays.

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