Recently I'd become acquainted with an ambitious writer who's chasing the dream of becoming a published author. He'd read one of my books and asked if I would meet him for drinks and discuss my travels along this path. When we got together one of the first questions he asked was, "So how do I go about getting published?" To which I responded, "Is your book finished?" Well, you seem like a very smart audience so I'm sure you've already guessed that he hadn't even started writing a book yet.You see, asking about the publishing process before you've finished polishing off your book is like a golfer asking what they should wear to the champions dinner before ever entering into an event. Or even learning the sport.
We ended up having a terrific evening of drinks and appetizers and hours later I agreed to exchange chapters with him so we could critique each other's work along the way. I'm always searching for new eyes for my writing and he was excited about the idea of working together.Now fast forward a month. This writer sends me the first 40 pages of his book to review and we agree to meet once again for drinks to discuss his writing. I must say this guy was an English major and had probably one of the strongest command of narrative I've ever seen. There was no doubt he could write. His story began with a young woman trapped in a torrential rain storm up in the mountains where a strange man finds her unconscious and keeps her safe and sheltered through the night. I was fascinated to find out where the story was going only to discover the woman fantasizing about having sex with her rescuer the moment she awakes. And when I say fantasizing, I mean a body-thrusting, orifice-penetrating, erection-filled sexual fantasy that would make Hugh Hefner blush. Then , two scenes later, she's reminiscing about the first night she'd slept with her husband and explained parts of her anatomy her gynecologist hadn't thought of checking.
Although these sexual interludes were sandwiched between some very intriguing storylines, I was curious if the writer knew exactly what type of story he was writing. Surely he understood this was an erotic novel, right? Wrong. He told me that the sex scenes stop after the second chapter, but that his wife told him to throw some steamy action into his book because, well, sex sells. He doesn't even like writing that stuff, he was just trying to tap into the E.L James fan base.
Everything I've just told you is true. And I'll bet this isn't the only incident of a writer chasing after a dream which turns out to be someone else's. Getting anything published these days is hard. Try selling a short story to a literary magazine with a circulation of 300. It's damn tough. And while I am certainly no expert on which path to take on the way to success (whatever that may mean to you.) Please, if you really want to chase the dream and become an author and maybe even develop some loyal readers along the way--chase your dream. You will have very few regrets along the way.