I’m working on my first novel. It’s a tough process filled with self-doubt and fear. I’ve also made the mistake of learning everything there is to know about how impossible it is to sell a first novel.
Here’s a scary statistic, the average number of novels a writer produces before they sell one is four. That means that most published writers have three “practice” novels quietly taking up space on their hard drives. I’ve lost track of how many hours I’ve spent on my book so far, but the fact that my husband and myself may be the only people who ever read it is weighing heavily on my mind.
When the despair sets in it reminds me of of being on airplane. I’ve always been a nervous flyer. I analyze every bump and whir. I hesitate to make plans when vacationing, as I never expect to make it to my destination alive. Every time I force myself down the jet-way, I am absolutely positive that I will die.
It’s a terrible feeling, and a powerful one, but I don’t let it stop me. I’ve been on sixteen airplanes in the last year and written about 50,000 words of my novel-in-progress. I get teased about my fear of flying a lot, called a coward or a scaredy-cat. But I don’t let any of it get to me. It’s true that when I get onto a plane I’m sure I’ll be killed in a fiery crash, but this does not make me a coward. The fact that I get on that airplane in the face of my fear makes me the bravest person you have ever met.
My hat’s off to every writer who has finished a book. Whether you ever showed it to anyone else, whether or not anyone else liked it, you’ve accomplished something amazing and I admire your bravery. Like those airplane rides, we persevere because we know the joy of reaching our destination will be worth the bumps along the way. And, if I can end on a hopeful note, I’d like to point out that I haven’t been killed in a plane crash yet. So who knows, maybe I’ll only need two practice novels, or one. Or maybe this book is my book and I just need to keep working.