Going It Alone
Let me tell you a story. A young man (ok a teenager) came up with this idea for a short story. As he worked out the details the story became longer and longer until it turned into a novella. But the story was not finished. Every idea like a snowball rolling down a mountain side just grew and added more to the storyline. At last the young man looked down and saw he had a novel he could write with the potential of others to follow. In the weeks that followed he carefully crafted the first chapter and presented it to his father, an editor by trade, for review. The next morning over breakfast the Young Man asked his father what he thought of the first draft of the chapter. His father sat down his coffee, slammed his fist on the table and proceeded to tear the papers in half and then into quarters. When he was done he dropped the papers on the ground and left for work. Heartbroken the boy fell to the ground and picked up the pieces and held them to his chest. Being late for school he hid the papers in his room and ran out the door. As he briskly walked to school he realized, My ideas are good but my writing isn’t good enough yet. I must fix that. He paid more attention in English class as they studied the great writers of the past. But where he really excelled was in creative writing. After working through some grammatical problems his stories were always top of the class. In fact one was so good it was entered and won an Ontario Provincial Contest. His success mounted in high school as he was asked to write numerous school plays. Never, in all that time did he tell anyone outside his family about his books. He had already finished the first one and was working on the second. Then college came and there was little time for working on books. So he thought about a different part of the series every night before bed. He told one friend about them and let her read a few chapters. She was astounded and said it should be published. He was unprepared for ridicule again and refused to try. After graduation he married his college sweetheart who had no interest in the books as long as it wasn’t an inconvenience. They had 3 children together and finally bought a computer. He began transferring his books onto it and printing copies for his one supporter to keep safe. Through all the years, his mother loved to hear the stories over and over. She said he had a “Gift.” Little did he know when he gave her the chapters that she was loaning them out to her friends. He built up quite a following as it turns out as the ladies bickered over who received a chapter next. It was years later he found that out. Many years came and went and his parents came to visit from far away. She asked to go for a drive. That was always a fun thing for the two of them to do. As they drove she informed him that she had terminal cancer and that she would not be visiting again or be around much longer. She said she wanted one favor from him. He said to name it and she said, “Publish your books.” When she got home she went straight into hospice and died a couple weeks later.
As you may have guessed, the main character of this story is me. The time to go it alone was over. I made a promise I would keep. It took time but I found an agent who found me a publisher. I now have 4 books in print with more to come as time permits.
Going it alone is very dangerous. It is hard to grow as a writer without constructive feedback. It may be harsh but break it down to information you can use. Going it alone also means that no one else sees your work. Trust me, there is no better feeling than when someone comes up and says they loved your book. Deep down you wrote it to be read. It wants to be read. Polish it up and find a publisher. Do your homework and surround yourself with good people. Don’t wait for the horrible wake-up call I did before acting. What’s the worst that can happen? You’re right back where you are, but you tried.