The past couple of years, I've been making a big effort to be professional about my writing. Dreaming is lovely but persistence is far more effective. I've been writing for a very long time but if I hadn't started sending stuff out in 2011, I wouldn't have had my few pieces published--a big thrill whether they are considered professional sales or not. I'm piling up the rejection letters but it's the acceptance letters I reread when I need a lift. (Actually, I reread the personal rejections too, I've gotten awesome feedback from some very generous people!)
Being professional doesn't just mean
increasing the hours I spend writing. It means meeting people. I went to my first writers' convention this year (yay Ad Astra!) but
mostly its been online. Twitter and Facebook are part of the digital playground where writers,
editors, agents, and publishers interact. And I've been reading dozens of articles
on how to edit, submit, write a query letter or a synopsis or a grant application. I sometimes feel like Alice falling through the rabbit-hole,
there is so MUCH to learn.
The first thing I learned, the thing that amazes me over and over
again, is how friendly, open and helpful everyone is! Whenever I have a
question, someone is more than willing to share their industry knowledge
with a middle-aged newbie. I've seen total strangers cheer each other
on, give e-hugs of commiseration, applaud others' successes. There's an
occasional sour spot--the battles for equality and diversity are
still raging, I've put my two cents in a couple of times but the
overwhelming sense I have is that the literary community is inclusive
and welcoming. That's a relief, because I plan to spend a lot of time here.
Sometimes I wish I started earlier, like in my 30s or even 40s. I heard about a
man, Harry Bernstein, whose book "The Invisible Wall" was written at age
93 and published at age 98. He said, "My 90s were the most productive
years of my life."
I've still got a few years left ahead of me.