Earlier this month, I was approached by Exhibit A Books with an offer to have author Dan Newman stop by for a guest post. I was asked if I had any particular topics for Dan to discuss and I thought with it being November and with NaNoWriMo in full swing, it would be nice for a few would be authors to get a pep-talk of sorts.
Dan obliged and here we are!
Right out of the gate, thank you for inviting me to be part of your blog!
With my book, The Clearing, having just been released, I’ve had the honor of stopping by a few blogs lately, and one of the most common questions has been around my own experience breaking into the publication world. That and any advice I might have for those running down the same path.
I’m happy to share what I can, but I do have to say I feel entirely unqualified to be dispensing advice about writing in any capacity. I’m outrageously fortunate to have been picked up first by my agent, and then by the publisher. So while I hope that some level of competence was involved, I also recognize luck plays a part in all this.
So what’s my advice? Well, quite simply, stick to it. If writing is something you want to do, I mean something you really feel attached to and if it gives you a deep sense of satisfaction, then damn the torpedoes; full speed ahead.
When I think back to the first manuscript I wrote, I think – no, I know – I was dreaming of publication with every word I set down. But it didn’t happen. In fact, it didn’t happen for sixteen more years, and now I realize that somewhere along the line the focus on publication took a back seat. It never went away, but it became secondary to the writing itself. I always hoped I’d get the chance to see my work in print, and I kept a steady cadence to the query process, but I realized the writing itself had become the thing. It was satisfying. And I could see myself getting better at it. In fact, I’d even go so far as to say that once the focus became the writing rather than getting published, the odds of me getting published went up significantly. I have no stats to back that up, but it sure feels that way now.
One of the things anyone starting out will struggle with is rejection. Everyone has to go through it, and it can be soul-destroying stuff. Getting those queries back with a no-thank-you is only marginally better than the ones you never get back at all. And if you let it, the bleak world of querying will convince you that you’ve got nothing. It’ll creep in and throw cold water on that little creative fire you have going there. You don’t have it, kid. You’re a bum and we’re all secretly laughing at you. So if there’s any other little piece of advice I would offer it’s to see querying as an apprenticeship.
That’s all it is – a well honored part of the process where you pay your dues. If you’re committed to growing as a writer, if you’re prepared to watch the pros and dissect what they do and see how they do it, you will get there. That’s been my path. But it’s the long game approach, suited to those who get some level of satisfaction from the act of writing itself.
So if that’s you, put in the time. Get on with the apprenticeship, learn what you need to learn and keep knocking out the work so that one day not too far off, I can head down to the bookstore and pick up a copy of your latest book.
Thanks for letting me spend a little time here at your blog!
– Dan Newman
Dan’s new book, The Clearing, is currently available!
In 1976, four boys walked into a jungle. Only three came back alive.
Haunted by terrifying childhood memories he doesn’t fully understand, journalist Nate Mason returns to the Caribbean island of St. Lucia where he grew up.
Back then, as the son of a diplomat, he was part of an elite social circle. But during a weekend of whispered secrets and dares in a decaying jungle mansion staffed by the descendants of slaves, Nate’s innocence was torn apart.
The survivors of that gathering blamed what happened on a myth, an unseen terror from the bush. No one believed them. But now. almost forty years later, is the truth finally about to come out?
Within hours of arriving back on the island, Nate becomes convinced he’s being followed. He soon discovers that his search for answers could cost him his sanity as well as his life, as he realizes that some childhood nightmares never go away.
Can childhood nightmares haunt you for the rest of your life? How much do you need to believe in a monster for it to become real? The Clearing is a dark and atmospheric psychological thriller, full of intrigue, terror and superstition, which examines our deepest fears of the unknown. A potent mix of the friendship and bravery of Stand By Me and the betrayals and fear of Angel Heart.
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