My First Novel: What Happened And Why (Part 2)

Writer_at_work
Dear Michael and Caroline,

Well, none of that happened.

I sent the book around to maybe 10 or 12 editors at top book publishing houses. And back came the manuscript, with notes, one after another, all basically saying, No, sorry, good stuff, interesting, well-written, good try, close but no cigar, thanks for the look.

Ouch.

Worst disappointment ever.

High hopes dashed but good.

And my freelance career, because I all but stopped getting my stuff in magazines and newspapers, and lost touch with almost all the editors I’d come to know, pretty much fell apart in the process. And our savings were all but gone.

Double ouch.

So what do I make of this experience now, more than 20 years later? Well, first, I have no regrets about trying my hand at a novel. It was just something I needed to do, and eventually, no matter what, I was going to do it. Writing the book gave me the deepest pleasure, nothing less than ecstasy.

My only real regret was over how I went about doing it – meaning focusing on it to the exclusion of my money-making responsibilities, and in the process, blowing our savings.

Big mistake.

If I had it all to do over again, I would have gone at it differently. I would have done the novel on the side, as if it were a second job, instead of giving it center stage.

I’d suffered a bout of youthful arrogance, and paid a price. Within two years I took on a part-time job in New Jersey, and two years later I switched, for the first time in ten years, to a full-time job.

Lesson learned – a hard lesson, to be sure, but hard lessons are probably the best because those are the ones you never forget. And, believe me, you never do.

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