So, I am sitting here trying to figure out how exactly I should count the number of novels I ‘wrote’. Do you count by number of outlines — complete outlines — you’ve completed? Ah…no.
Should you count by the number of novels you outlined and wrote upwards of 130 pages…? Quite possibly.
Should you count the novels you have ‘in the pipeline’ which is really just in your head? [Because those novels each have at least two fully fleshed out paragraphs on what they’re about…] You can figure the answer to this one out.
Yes, I am being a bit facetious but there are times when you really get a bit confused as to what is the proper way to organize your body of work even if completed and polished output is a tiny fraction of the whole.
However, in a very real sense those ‘unfinished’ works in progress mean something. If to no one else but to you, the writer, these works are invaluable. Those works are the bars you used to practice and tone your writing muse and muscles to the point where you are today. Without those books in their various stages of doneness you could not — dare not! — call yourself a writer.
I read the Q & A/FAQs page of author Sue Grafton (of the Alphabet series — i.e. ‘A’ is for Alibi) and she shares that she wrote seven (count ’em!) novels prior to writing her breakout blockbuster NY Times bestseller ‘A’ is for Alibi (which was her book #8).
“Of the first seven novels I wrote, numbers 4 and 5 were published. Numbers one, two, three, six and seven, have never seen the light of day…and rightly so.” – Sue Grafton
It took me a few days to process this and really come to grips with the prodigious amount of work this author put towards her craft PRIOR to her success. What if she had given up after book three? You know, Three’s the charm? In a way, you could say that since Sue’s book number for was published that…yeah, no. She went ahead and wrote a book FOUR. So, three was NOT the charm. Sue’s hard work, dedication, and love for the written word is what took her to success.
One cannot possibly be commercially successful as a writer of fiction without having serious writing chops (or, a serious story line and great editors!).
Can you believe that Jack London (author of White Fang and The Call of the Wild) received over 600 rejections before being published?? SIX HUNDRED.
Poet Emily Dickinson wrote over 1,800 poems in her life yet barely a dozen where published while she was alive. Today, I think we know of a few more than a dozen of her works, don’t we?
Stephen King threw his manuscript entitled, Carrie, into the trash after 30 rejections. Thankfully, his wife took it out of the garbage and encouraged him to try again…
You get my point. Hard work, dedication to the craft and let’s just call it non-recognition are all parts of this thing we love — writing.
So, boot up your laptop. Crack those knuckles. Pop the lid on that ice cream and get to work! We’ll see you when you reach your personal finish line!
Ta-ta for now,