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Tess Gerritsen has a good post ponging about the blogosphere about writers and desperation. It is worth the time to read the entire dealio HERE [1].

The post was sparked by a discussion about self publishing, and I guess it stirred up a hornet’s nest in e-pub circles, because she felt compelled to write this clarification:

“What makes a new writer today think he should be immune to that desperation I felt [before selling her first novel]? What makes him think this is SUPPOSED to be easy? What makes him think his very first book is going to get published — or deserves to get published?

“Here’s the truth. I wrote three books that didn’t sell. And then I sold my fourth — to Harlequin. I have a good friend who wrote seven — SEVEN! — manuscripts that didn’t sell. Think of her desperation, her hunger, to be published. It had to be there, driving her, or she would have just given up. But she just kept going and wrote manuscript #8.

And it sold.”

Her point is, this endeavor ain’t for sissies.

If you’ve been writing a few months, years, decades, without selling, you come to the point in your life where one day, you’re staring into the abyss. The heart of darkness. You wonder if this is worth all the backpain and mooning about plot while driving and late nights/early mornings spent writing instead of sleeping. Then the doubts creep in. What if the work never sells?


At this juncture, you probably want to read some soothing words to the effect that if you keep at it, success will happen. But the cruel truth is that the road to publication is littered with more corpses than contracts.

Gerritsen ends her post thusly: “If you really want to be a published novelist, you’ll stick with it. You won’t say “I’ll give it a year, maybe two.” You’ll say “I’ll keep at it, I’ll keep improving my craft, year after year. Even if it never happens.”

“Because it may never happen. That’s the tough reality.”


I read stories every day about someone who decides one day they want to write, and they dutifully write the novel and voila! they get pubbed. It’s more rare that I read stories of authors who labored for 10-plus years with nothing to show for it. But I love those stories. It tells me that there’s something more driving the process than writing for publication.

Desperation? Yep. And I heapin’ helpin’ of determination.  That’s what keeps me trucking.

About Kathleen Bolton [2]

Kathleen Bolton is co-founder of Writer Unboxed. She writes under a variety of pseudonyms, including Ani Bolton [3]. She has written two novels as Cassidy Calloway [4]: Confessions of a First Daughter, and Secrets of a First Daughter--both books in a YA series about the misadventures of the U.S. President's teen-aged daughter, published by HarperCollins, and Tamara Blake, for the novel Slumber [5].