Advice for Wannabe Writers

- by Susan Lyons

vpl1My local Chapter of Romance Writers of America holds an event each year at the main branch of Vancouver Public Library, usually scheduled for around Valentine’s Day. This year, our event was held on February 11, and I was the moderator.

Speakers were Kate Austin, Lee McKenzie, and Kaylea Cross. The topic was “Is Happily Ever After Just Fiction?” and the speakers discussed how they move from idea to book, and how they achieved publication.

The theme that emerged repeatedly was how individual the writing process is. If would-be writers came to the presentation looking for magical answers, they didn’t get any.

Except, maybe they did.  The answer was, there isn’t a formula. It’s not like other careers where you have to study specific courses, work at a certain place, work during certain hours, perform tasks in a specified manner.

You get to be as unique in your writing process as you are as a person. And isn’t that a wonderful – even magical – thing?

The speakers did give general guidelines. You have to learn, practice, be disciplined. You have to write, revise, subject your work to criticism. It helps to become part of a professional writers’ organization and interact with colleagues. It helps to study other writers’ processes and techniques, and borrow and adapt until you work out your own process. You have to submit, be rejected, and submit again. Publication doesn’t come easily. And when it does come, rarely will it bring a huge income.

For me, having been in this business for more than a dozen years, it all seemed self-evident. But as I looked out at the audience, I imagined myself back at the beginning of my writing career. If I’d attended an event like this one, how would I have felt when I left?

And I think the answer is, not necessarily optimistic, but hopeful. If the people at the front of the room could achieve multi-published status, then why shouldn’t any member of the audience be able to do it?

I hope that’s the message that the wannabe writers in our Valentine’s event audience took away with them.

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