Say hello to today’s guest blogger Judy Penz Sheluk who opens with a quote from one of my favorite mystery writers…
I love that quote, not just because it means that even someone as prolific as Christie had the occasional struggle to get the words down, but because it absolutely sums up the life of a professional writer.
Being a professional writer doesn’t have to mean that you’ve been published. It does mean, however, that you have a burning desire to get published. Which means you have to have a plan, and that plan has to start with the writing. I can’t begin to tell you how many times people ask me questions about getting published, or finding an agent, when they don’t even have a manuscript ready to submit. Write the story first. Unless you’re a famous celebrity, no one is going to give you a contract without reading your book first. And you’ll probably face a ton of rejection before getting a “yes.” (Kathryn Stockett received 60 rejections for The Help.) But all of that is after you’ve written the 75,000 or so words required—after you’ve revised your first, second, third, fourth and who knows how many drafts.
Before I became a professional writer, I was a dabbler. I’d start and stop projects after a few chapters because that great idea in my head wasn’t quite as easy to put on paper as I thought it would be. I’d tell myself I was waiting for the muse to visit. The muse, I was convinced, would come along one day and help me write the story.
Except the muse didn’t come, not even once. And then I read that Agatha Christie quote, and I realized that if I didn’t show up, how would the muse know where to find me? From that day on, I’ve tried to write something every single day, even if all I can carve out is ten or fifteen minutes. And guess what? Ideas started coming at all sorts of odd hours, filling me with ideas on how to advance the plot, or how better to tell the story. In short, I’d found my muse, and lo and behold, she’d been living inside of me all that time.
And now I’ll close with a final quote by Christie: “The secret of getting ahead is getting started.” So go ahead, stop waiting for the muse, and get started. After all, what have you got to lose.”
Judy is the author of the Glass Dolphin Mysteries (The Hanged Man’s Noose; A Hole in One) and the Marketville Mysteries (Skeletons in the Attic; Past & Present). Her short stories appear in several collections.
Judy is also a member of Sisters in Crime International/Guppies/Toronto, International Thriller Writers, Inc., the South Simcoe Arts Council, the Short Mystery Fiction Society, and Crime Writers of Canada, where she serves on the Board of Directors, representing Toronto/Southwestern Ontario. Find her at www.judypenzsheluk.com.
Judy’s latest installment in the Marketville Mystery series, Past & Present, will release on September 21 in trade paperback everywhere, and on Kindle at the special introductory price of $2.99 (reg. $5.99). Find it: http://authl.it/afj