Becoming a Professional Writer

I’ve been writing in secret for several years now. Fifteen, now that I check the timestamps on some of the stories. I seldom mention it. What do I say, “Hi, my name is Curt. In secret I’m a writer.” “What do you write?” “Novels.” “Have you been published yet?” “No.” “Oh.”

So much for that conversation.

I figured when I finally finished writing, re-writing, editing and re-editing and re-re-re-re-editing and so on, I would send it off to a publisher and they would sing to the heavens at this magnificent masterpiece. Dream On, as Aerosmith and Steven Tyler would say.

I’ll admit, it’s not the Greatest Novel Ever Written. But it’s a pretty good story–it’s better than a lot of novels I’ve read. I enjoyed the hell out of editing it because every time I got to re-read it all over again.

But getting published! This is a business I have to learn the hard way, because I have no contacts, no connections, I don’t belong to Writer’s Groups, I don’t socialize with the literary crowd. I live my life and I write. I can self-publish, which I have no idea how to do. Or I can get an agent.

Agents are the ticket, I’ve learned. My job is to present my story to an agent so convincingly that the agent falls completely in love with the story and starts the process of presenting it to publishing houses and getting one of those to buy it. Do you realize that agents get hundreds of stories submitted to them every week–actually the brief explanation of the story? I have to write such a compelling intro that matches the tastes of the agent that he or she is overwhelmed with curiousity as they sift through this humonguous pile of submissions (electronic these days) to actually ask for and read the story. And THEN if the agent likes it, it’s down the laborious path of getting published and seeing my name in print at the airport while I shop for something to read.

In a couple of weeks I jet to a writer’s conference where there will be 1) agents who will critique my presentation, and 2) folks who will describe the mysteries and vagaries of the self-publishing world.

Is this some kind of self-inflicted torture? Enduring endless rejections–or no answers–after pouring your heart and soul into a manuscript. Spending money on books and magazines of the trade, going to writer’s conferences, learning the ins and outs of the business of writing. To what end? No promise of success, and even harder, actually achieving financial reward?

But yet that Aerosmith song title continues to play: “Dream On.”

I’ll let you know how it goes, right here in this very blog. You can even post your comments with encouraging words or outright laughter, as you are so inclined.

Whatever happens, I’m going to enjoy the ride.

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