Thursday, April 1, 2010

"A Journey of a Thousand Miles...

Begins with a single step."

So often I hear people say, "I've always wanted to write a book, but I just don't have time." Or "I don't know how." Or (insert excuse/reason here). My advice? Take that first step. And then another. And another. Devote just thirty minutes before bed to it, instead of watching that sitcom. Read books like the one you want to write, so you understand what's out there, why yours is different and what you have to offer. Find a class or a critique group to help you and motivate you. Sit down, and start typing. Sure, taking steps into the unknown is scary and oftentimes hard. You might land in a mud puddle, or twist your ankle, or get stung by a scorpion or something (hey, I'm trying to be philosophical), but don't give up. Don't quit moving forward, because you never know which step is going to be the one that will propel you to your goal. Even the painful steps have meaning. When you do reach your goal, it will feel that much sweeter.

I first started writing books when I was in second grade (or at least those are the first ones I can remember writing), so I've been writing for a while. I still have my Little Mermaid notebook that I wrote them in. Not too many of my "early works" were fairy tales though, despite the cover of my notebook. I was a... precocious child. I'm sure my parents would agree. I wrote a story about a girl whose mom had a premature baby. There may have even been a "to scale" drawing of how big the baby would be. Also, it may have been written when my mom was six months pregnant with one of my sisters. I'm sure my story was very comforting to her.
Anyway, the point is, I started early. However, that doesn't really matter. Whether you are eight, or eighteen, thirty, fifty, or eighty--if you have a story you've been wanting to write--I say start now.

None of us can change our pasts, but we have absolute power to influence the course of our future.

On the hardest days of this journey, I would tell my hubby, "I wish I didn't care so much. I wish that I could quit, and have it not matter." That might not make much sense, so let me try to explain. Even in my darkest moments of self-doubt and frustration, I knew I didn't have it in me to quit. I wanted it too much. Even if I felt like it right then, I knew that within a few hours, or maybe a few days, I would be back at the computer revising my book, or reworking my query, maybe just sending more out, or deciding it was time to work on a new project to give me hope for the future. I couldn't quit, because I didn't want to be fifty, or eighty, and think "What if?"

"What if I hadn't quit?"

"What if I would have sent out another round of queries?"

"What if I would have written just one more book, and that would have been the one?"

I persevered and I finally reached the first major milestone of this business. I have an agent.
Good thing I didn't quit in February when I thought about it again...

Take that first step, and see where it leads you.


Elana Johnson said...

Yes! This is exactly the advice many people need. Take that first step! Thanks for the inspiration. I need to take a first step today. :)

Carolyn V. said...

Excellent advice Sara! I would hate to live with the What if? Great post. =)

Melony said...

The "What If?" is what keeps me going day after day, month after month and rejection after rejection! It's all I've got sometimes. but thankfully it's enough! Thanks Sara! So true!

Sara B. Larson said...

Elana: I have definitely needed to take my own advice for sure. And it doesn't end, does it? We have to keep taking those first steps.

Carolyn: I know, "What if" is a horrible question, isn't it?

Melony: I'm glad you're still going. Keep it up!

lisa and laura said...

I absolutely love this advice! If you don't give it your all, you'll never know what COULD have happened!