Hard Lessons learned about Writing and Life



– You can not write simply to get the ending you “like”. It doesn’t work that way.

A writer will be the first one to tell you that they write the story but they don’t always get to dictate where the story goes. A story often has a mind of it’s own and you are not being a “good” writer if you refuse to follow the story where it wants to go.

I thought I could do this at one time. I am so sick of reading books and watching movies that end badly or lead you in one direction and then just leave you there with no satisfactory conclusion. And yes, I’m tired of watching characters make decision that are so obviously bad.

So I thought I could write a story that did none of the above. I was wrong. My story had ideas of it’s own and my characters took me places I didn’t want them to go. I am not happy with everything that happens in my own novel. But I have learned that the story needs these things. There needs to be conflict, true conflict, for resolution to ever come .

Sometimes characters have to do things they’ll later regret. Sometimes characters you love have to die. Sometimes the story has to take a turn you don’t like and did not see coming.

– As a writer, you have to reconcile yourself to the fact that mediocre books WILL get published and great books WILL be ignored.

It always makes me nuts when I pick up a book, start reading and realize how bad it is. Granted it doesn’t happen a lot. It’s probably 1 in 5 but I read a lot so your numbers may be considerably better. It is awfully discouraging though.

It’s also pretty discouraging to read ARCs of friends books that I know are good enough to be published professionally but they either give up and self-publish or they put it aside after multiple rounds of rejections and start working on something else.

– No matter how many articles, blog posts, tweets, facebook posts and website FAQs you scour, agents will arbitrarily reject your work.

They don’t need a reason but the pile of excuses is a mile high.

“It’s just not what we’re looking for right now.” – I’m sorry… Are you looking for authors to publish? Are you looking to make money? Are you accepting submissions? HELLO!
“I’m not currently accepting unpublished/new authors.” – Heard of J.K. Rowling, Stephenie Meyer? Don’t care? OK. We’ll see if you’re whistling a different tune in a year or two.
“It didn’t hold my attention.” – Really? After a whole query letter and synopsis? Has ANYONE ever stopped to think that novelists don’t do nutshell particularly well! Hello! We’re novelists.
“I don’t really work in this genre.” – Yes. Even when they say right there on their page that they do/are.
“It sounds great and I’m sure someone else can do a better job for you.” – This is somewhat akin to the “It’s not you, It’s me” argument.

And my absolute favorite… “Don’t give up. Someone will want to represent you.” – Really! Are you serious! Even if this was actually something remotely honest, which it clearly isn’t because if YOU don’t want to represent me… why would anyone else, how is it logical? Short answer, it’s not.

– You will get negative reviews. And some of those reviews will sound and or feel like a personal attack on you.

This is something that writers just have to deal with. It doesn’t matter how many articles or books they’ve written. It doesn’t matter how many copies sold. It doesn’t matter how many weeks they spend on the Bestsellers list. At least one person out there will HATE their book and they will tell all their friends and they will post about it on Amazon, GoodReads, their book blog, Facebook and Twitter.

And one of the people who hates the book, will hate it with a passion so fiery that their review/comments will slip over the line from commentary on the book to personal attack on the writer, their intelligence and everything they stand for. It’s just a fact of life and social media. It’s how the world works now. (See my upcoming blog post on how the world thrives on Drama)

– You will have to deal with idiots who treat writing like it’s not a real job.

Yes. They’re out there and there are a lot more than there should be. They will make snotty remarks, snide comments and quippy jokes about your “work”. And, believe it or not, odds are you will be related to at least one of these people.

Why? There is no why. Why do people feel the need to make fun of “nerds”? Why do people feel the need to make women who stay at home feel like they’re lazy or stupid? Why do people feel it is their right to point out the problems in everyone else’s life and completely ignore their own? It’s just something in the way we are, a part of being human.

– You will feel like giving up almost daily.

DON’T! Do not let the mean people win! Do not let the agents who have no vision or desire for greatness stop you from doing what you love to do! DO not let your amazing ideas fade into obscurity! If you can’t publish traditionally, Self-Publish! I know I’m the first one who said self-publishing isn’t the answer but we have to deal with the hand we’ve got and if you REALLY want your book out there and NO ONE will represent you or publish you, what other options do you have?

My editor (who opposes self-publishing loudly and adamantly) has actually suggested this to me recently. We plan to release the book in February of 2014 after a complete rewrite. The new rewrite will place it squarely into YA Christian-fiction fantasy.

I will not give up, NO MATTER WHAT!

I hope you don’t either!

© J.C. Morrows 2013

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God Bless You!

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