Starting Out as a Writer --- Things You Should Know
“A writer is a writer not because she writes well and easily, because she has amazing talent, or because everything she does is golden. A writer is a writer because, even when there is no hope, even when nothing you do shows any sign of promise, you keep writing anyway.”
Junot Diaz, Professor of Writing,
Winner of Pulitzer prize for Fiction 2008
I write because I can’t imagine not writing. It’s what I do. But it doesn’t always come easily. In fact, it rarely comes easily, so to a new writer starting out I say… savor those times when it does.
Writing is demanding. It takes daily commitment and discipline. Even though it’s what I love to do, it’s tough sometimes to sit at my desk when the laundry is piled high, the dishes are waiting in the sink and the dog is staring at me, head cocked, leash in mouth, saying, “Let’s go. It’s a beautiful day outside.” If you want to be a writer you must know that your house won’t be the cleanest one on the block and your dog might be slightly overweight. If you can accept those things, you’re over the first hurdle because writing has to be your priority. Everyday.
Take your time. Write your draft and revise it. Then revise it again. Then leave it. Don’t look at it for at least two weeks. Then pull it out and revise it again. Give it to two people you trust and ask them to read it. Listen closely to their thoughts and suggestions. Don’t take their critiques personally. It’s not about you. It’s about your writing. Take what you think is helpful from their responses and leave what’s not. This is yours. You get to decide what works and what doesn’t.
When you get to the point of sending something out, don’t let rejections slow you down. Learn from them (after you shed a few tears). Rejections can be extremely helpful. I ought to know, I’ve had hundreds. After you put yourself back together, let rejections propel you forward. Let them be incentive to double down and make your work better than it was. And then send it out again. And again. And again. Writing is not for the faint of heart. Develop a thick skin.
And when, at long last you’ve found your agent and or publisher and your release date draws near, it’s promotion time. For me and I think for many writers, this is the “just get through it” phase. I’m envious of those extroverts who have fun promoting their work. But for us introverts, promotion takes every ounce of energy. It does get better. I’m not quite as nervous this time around, but I’d take my quiet little office over a speaking / signing engagement any day. It helps to remember that you are the expert. People have come because they’re interested in what you have to say. And no one knows the subject matter better than you do. You’ll live through it. I have.
In summary… revise, revise, revise and don’t quit your day job.
ABOUT THE BOOK
Book #2 of the Cole and Callahan Thriller Series
Date Published: April 15, 2018
Publisher: Intrigue Publishing
Detective John Stark approaches the PI team of Griff Cole and Britt Callahan with a postcard he’s sure is from his estranged daughter, Kira. She’s been listed as a runaway for three years by Portland, Maine police, but John isn’t convinced that her continued absence is by choice. As Stark’s long-time friends, Cole and Callahan agree to look into the postcard marked only with the letters O.K.
The postmark leads them to Oracles of the Kingdom, a farm where women sell fresh produce in return for a fresh start with God. But nothing seems right about the town or the farm and Britt goes undercover to look for Kira. Once inside, she realizes Oracles of the Kingdom is not the refuge it appears. And when she's trafficked over the Canadian border she’s on her own, over her head and losing clarity between hero and victim.
My heart went into overtime making it difficult to hear the rest of the house over the rush in my ears. But it had to be now. There was nothing I needed to take from this place. The picture of Kira was back in the closet upstairs, but I didn’t need it anymore. My phone was somewhere within the skeleton of the house, no chance of recovering that and the watch from Griff was in my shoe. I was good to go.
I opened the backdoor and slipped outside onto the porch, down the steps and across the side yard. The only light was on the front of the house illuminating the driveway. At the barn, I stopped and leaned against the outside of the far wall, listening. Nothing. I was shaking either from fear or the frigid air. Either way I had to keep moving. I slipped the watch out of my shoe and onto my wrist then headed for the trees. Two feet from the pines the backdoor slammed. I dove into the shadows tearing the skin on my forearms, brushing heavy pine boughs out of my way. I could still make out the back door. Isaac was coming down the steps. He wasn’t moving fast. He seemed to be looking for something on the ground. He stooped, picked up a bucket and went back inside.
I held onto the tree beside me until my breathing returned to normal and my heart slowed, but I couldn’t stall for long. Sooner or later Rose would be back in the kitchen asking where I was. I took off running deeper into the woods. The full moon was both a blessing and a curse. The driveway was to my right and if I stayed in a straight line, parallel to it, I’d eventually reach the road. But ducking branches and avoiding fallen trees had me unsure if I’d veered off course. I stopped again to listen. It was dead still around me and with a mix of crusty snow and brittle leaves underfoot there’d be no way anyone could sneak up. I took off again but didn’t get more than ten feet when I tripped over an exposed root and went down hard. A sharp pain shot through my forearm and I couldn’t move my wrist. Struggling to my knees, I wrapped my right hand around my left wrist holding it tight against my chest. The watch from Griff was gone. It had slipped from my shoe into the snow-covered leaves. There was no time to search for it. Back on my feet I was running again. I’d completely lost my bearings and didn’t know if I was still moving in the direction of the road or back toward the house. It was slower going having to hold my arm and the jolt of each step increased the pain.
About the Author
Patricia Hale received her MFA degree from Goddard College. Her essays have appeared in literary magazines and the anthology, My Heart’s First Steps. Her debut novel, In the Shadow of Revenge, was published in 2013. The Church of the Holy Child (9/17) is the first book in her PI series featuring the team of Griff Cole and Britt Callahan. The second book, Durable Goods, will be released April 15, 2018. Patricia is a member of Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, NH Writers Project and Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance. She lives in New Hampshire with her husband and two dogs.