The Long Way Home

I’m listening to a great new podcast called The Stories Between Us. Hosts Shawn Smucker and Maile Silva are writers in different stages of their careers, and they’re married to each other. In today’s episode, Shawn talks about how many writers want shortcuts to publication and/or success. They’re tempted by marketing courses that guarantee a huge audience, or by online classes that promise to help them write the next great American novel. Writers are vulnerable, he says. We want so badly for our work to mean something, to be seen and recognized by others, that we’re willing to ignore when some twenty-step program seems too good to be true.

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The unpopular truth is that most of us need time to improve our craft. We need to work really, really hard, often for years, in order to develop skill and style. When we try to take shortcuts, we miss vital steps in our growth as creatives. We end up rushing things and producing subpar work.

Which is really to say, there are no shortcuts.

This is what I tell myself today when I receive the news that a fourth publisher has passed on my novel. It’s just not time, yet, I say to the mirror. There’s something I need to learn right now that will help me later when a publisher says yes.

Do I believe me? Yes and no, friends. Yes and no.

But I’m choosing to be thankful for no’s, even though they sting.

And now, to continue edits on my current manuscript…