When I first decided to write Love Changes, I thought it was going to take three months. After that, I was going to find an agent. My novel was going to be published. I was going to be on the New York Times bestsellers list. In about a year’s time, I was going to be earning millions and millions of dollars. I had been writing all my life. Writing a novel couldn’t possibly be hard. I made the declaration: I’m writing a novel!
It’s one thing to say it. But novel writing is a process. It’s another thing entirely to be persistent and consistent enough to accumulate pages, to complete a full body of text that tells the story from beginning to end. And then to fill that story with a cast of characters who are total figments of the imagination but are real enough to fool everyone, including the critics. I can only speak for myself. I wasn’t born with those skills; I had to develop them. The love of money wasn’t enough to get me through. I had to love writing. I had to love it enough to keep doing it when three month turned to four, when four months turned to six, when six months turned to a year with no end in sight, when friends asked me, “Are you still writing that novel?” It took me almost 5 years to finish my first draft.
And then, I searched for an agent. I was soliciting for years and only getting some variation of the standard form letter:
Unfortunately…no. Don’t give up. Thank you.
(Rubber Stamped Signature)
After four years of revising, I found an agent that was willing to represent me. Now, the waiting begins. So lately, I’ve been writing and waiting. When I first decided to write Love Changes I was 30 years old. I am now coming up on my 40th birthday.
Now when I talk to friends who are fellow writers about my expectations at the beginning, I laugh. Although I manage to find humor in all this, I feel anxious. I’m eager to see my book pressed and pretty, eager to let someone, anyone read it. I want people to tell me what they really think. Is this book as great as I hoped it would be? Or should have changed this to that, that to this? I am anxious, not with the journey, not with the craft, but with the process. Why does it need to take so long? I’m not a young girl anymore. Was this the right investment of my time? Is there anything I can do to put these wheels in motion? I feel like I’m running on a treadmill right about now. But I guess that is better than standing still. I know for a fact that’s better than giving up. I’m just hoping I don’t run out of energy.
Eartha Watts-Hicks is a freelance writer and editor. For more information, visit www.earthatone.com.