‘Writer’s life is easy. All you have to do is sit in your room and type,’ one of my friends said to me recently. He was unhappy as he had to travel for two hours just to reach his office. The bitter cold of weather made him feel bitterly cold towards all who could work from under the comfort of their warm quilt. ‘You can stare at the computer all day and still call your day productive if you manage one paragraph by evening. You have it so easy,’ he added.
‘No, dude, not so easy as you may think,’ I wanted to tell him. But I didn’t. It would have been no use. After all, only a writer can understand a writer’s travails. Only a writer can understand a writer’s frustrations and fears.
If you need a good idea, but can’t get it, you feel as if you have no imagination at all. If you have a good idea, but the right words aren’t coming, you start doubting your own writing skills. And if the great idea has been well put in perfect words, and still the publishers aren’t getting interested, the whole of your future starts looking dark, especially when you are just beginning your journey as a writer.
However, no matter how hard the journey might be, it all becomes worthwhile when success comes and you see your dream in your hand, ready to take wings and spread your words around the world.
When I started working on my first novel Dream’s Sake, I had no idea of what awaited me. Being forced to live a very closed life (as I could neither attend senior school nor college) I had little idea of how the readers’ taste had changed and what publishers’ preferences were. So at a time when the trend favours quick reads, I ended up developing a novel that could be termed epic-length in comparison. And when the market was being crowded by college romances, I wrote a novel focusing on the fears and insecurities of people with disabilities. No wonder I had to struggle so much to get the nod of approval from a publisher. And then too, I had to cut down my beloved book to half its length.
But do I regret?
I wrote the story that my heart wanted to tell. Had I followed only the market trend, I would never have been able to do justice to the book. And then, I’m sure my book would never have touched the heart of readers as Dream’s Sake has succeeded to do.
Besides, the entire process of writing and getting Dream’s Sake published has been a great learning experience. It has taught me many valuable lessons.
Ever since Dream’s Sake was published I have been contacted by several new novelists, all battling with fears and doubts and seeking advice to make their path easier too. And to all of them, I say the same thing. ‘Accept frustrations. They are the stepping stones to success. Becoming a sincere novelist is not easy. If you have chosen this field as your career, then, first of all, prepare yourself to face lots of frustrations and keep on writing.’
That is the most valuable lesson I have learnt in my journey as a writer so far. But there have been other lessons too. Let me share some of them here. If you dream of becoming a novelist too, I hope these would benefit you:
- If you want to succeed as a novelist, you should be aware of the market trends and requirements. Write what you want to write, but do keep in mind the market scenario in terms of book’s length, language, etc. An author must also be aware of the changing culture and value system to develop characters and plots that can be accepted by the readers. Doesn’t mean you can’t challenge the market trend and create something new and unique. But in that case, your book will need to be exceptional to beat all the opposition and roadblocks it will face from the industry.
- When the book is ready, get it reviewed by some objective reviewer. Good reviews are very valuable. They can make you aware of the strengths and weaknesses of your writing skill and story. Listen carefully to the criticism and revise, revise, and revise again. I revised my Dream’s Sake more than 15 times. And then I was told I must cut it down to half. And from there started the process of revisions all over again. Cheesy titles and cheesy content can win you short term success, but if you want your readers’ respect, work hard at making your book as best as you can.
- Educate yourself about the publishers and publishing agents. Find out the publishers and agents who might be interested in the genre of your book. Find out which publishers and agents are trustworthy and reputable, and which should better be avoided. This can be done by becoming a member of writer groups and forums. Believe it or not, but there’s a lot of exploitation and cheating going on in the publishing field. And an aspiring writer is a very vulnerable person. So be wary, and be aware. One the other hand, if you want to go the self-publishing way, make sure you understand clearly the advantages and disadvantages of it.
- Don’t compare yourself to other writers. It would only end up making you feel bad. When you compare your writing to others, two things happen. One, you feel that other writer’s writing is superior to yours. And that makes you start feeling inferior and unsure of your writing. Or you might feel that other person’s writing is inferior but still more successful than yours. That would, of course, leave you feeling bitter. So don’t compare. Learn from the experiences of other writers, seek inspiration from them, but never compare yourself to anyone.
- Have trust in your abilities, have trust in your writing, and believe in your dreams. If people tell you that you need improvement, work hard at it. But don’t give up on your dream. Never give up on your dream. Becoming a novelist might sound like a big deal. And many people might even ridicule you and your writing aspirations. But if it’s a writer you want to become, do so, no matter what.
As I said earlier on, the journey won’t be easy. But when even one reader comes up to you and says how much they loved your book, it would all become worthwhile.
Check out Jyoti Arora’s Books
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