This blog post (“On the Slow Pursuit of Overnight Success”) by Victoria (V.E.) Schwab has been lurking on my list for a while, and it seems a good time to link to it, after last week’s post on dealing with rejection and No. Her story about her early attempts at publishing and the long slog of almost-made-it and rejection and battles with her publisher, and finally becoming an “overnight success” with her eighth book is valuable. She worked hard, and gave it everything, and had some opportunities that some of us would envy, and almost gave up anyway. But she persevered, and wrote the book she wanted to write, and her career has taken off (full disclosure: I haven’t read any of her books. She’s now on my list of authors to check out, despite the piles of books already covering my chairs, my tables, my sofa, my bookshelves...).
There is no one route to success. Success might look different to each of us. Comparing ourselves to others might be inevitable to some extent, but deadly in playing the long game that leads to a successful writing career. It is one of the truisms in writing that you have to love the process if you’re ever going to get to the end product of publishing your book(s) in whatever form. And if you do become successful, in terms of publication and contracts and an eager public awaiting your next book, then you have deadlines and tours and fan interactions and all kinds of demands - no more lurking in your little cave, writing what you want, when you want! So enjoy the process of wherever you are at this moment, even as you work toward the next stage of your career.
The final words of her post are “Half of this industry is luck, and half is the refusal to quit.” We should all print out these words and post them above our writing desks. Maybe we’ll never achieve NYT bestseller status. Maybe we will. But we’ll never know unless we persevere, we keep learning our craft, we put our stuff out there, and keep the faith in our writing, and ourselves. V.E. Schwab didn’t get where she is by giving up, and so neither should you. If you’re in a place where you’re hearing No more than you’d like, or it seems you’re spinning your wheels and not getting any traction in your writing career, just remember to keep going, and maybe you too will eventually achieve “overnight success.”
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