11.10.2004

Putting Down the Pen
Let's just be up front about this: I'm nobody. My advice is no more relevant than the next stranger's.

Now that the disclaimer is out of the way, let me give this "no more relevant than the next" piece of advice: Submit.

To everyone.

To new companies, old companies, to anyone with a mailing address that accepts unsolicited submissions.

Our chosen field is cutthroat, but at this very moment there are more opportunities to get paid for writing than ever before in the history of the written word.*

Sometimes it can seem that it is impossible to succeed at this trade. Sometimes it seems that everywhere you turn you find corpses of failed would be writers.

But maybe they all gave up just a day early. Maybe if they had held on another day, another month, or another year, they would have made that lunge that separates the published from the perished.

I don't know if this is true. I can't prove that you'll sell stories in the end. But you can't prove the inverse either, and given the choice between two unproven theories, why not believe the hopeful one?

I know how you feel when you get 18 rejections in a row. I know how you feel when you devote years of your life to a manuscript that turns out to trash. I know how you feel when everyone else's name is on the marquee, except for yours.

Please, as one writer to another: hold on. Keep punching keys. Be your own greatest fan, and your own harshest critic. When no one else will touch your work, YOU have to believe it has potential. When your friends all say it is brilliant YOU have to the one looking for the flaws.

If I have learned anything this year, it is this: hang on, just one more day.

*I'm making that part up, but I think it is true.

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