Lessons for the Long Haul

Next week, my sixteenth book comes out, but compared to many writing in the romance genre, I consider myself a novice, still learning so much from my mentors.

Recently, I had the opportunity to hear my good friend, Patricia Kay present an outstanding workshop on "The Emotional Connection." Pat's definitely a long-hauler in this business -- just this week she made her fiftieth (you read that right - 50th!) book sale. (Congratulations, Pat!)

I've learned so much from talking to, critiquing with, and watching Pat over the years that I thought I'd share a few of my favorite lessons.

1. The more you give, the more you get. Pat's given countless hours to teaching and mentoring young (both chronologically and in terms of experience) writers. She's taken time to read the work of aspiring and transitioning authors (this one included) and given honest, solid advice. Avoiding the temptation to turn into one those guru/divas who feels she infallibly knows all, she's instead turned the experience into a celebration of mutual discovery. In seeking out new books on craft or techniques, she enriches her own work.
2. It's a marathon, not a sprint, and we can recover from our stumbles. Without perspective, authors can be crushed by a rejected option book, failed submission, bad review (even by random strangers on Amazon), or disappointing sales. But long-haul winners climb back to their feet, their gaze already locked on the fascinating glimmer of another tale on the horizon. When the going gets tough -- and I can guarantee you it will at times -- the big girls lick their wounds, then shake it off, then gear up for the next round, and the next.

3. Stagnation's not an option.
Unless you're continually learning, growing, and evolving as a writer, you'll end up bored, burned out, and permanently sidelined. A fascination with the challenges of publishing and a lifelong learner's attitude are essential ingredients.

4. It's all about the storytelling.
Bestseller lists and awards are great (and Pat's seen plenty of both) but in the long run, the competitive trappings of success have to take a back seat to the joy of taking your readers on the journey to discovering your characters. If not, you'll spend your writing life obsessing over sparklies and perpetually jealous and dissatisfied.

Thanks, Pat, for sharing your wisdom and example. You've been a great role model.


EmilyBryan said…
Thanks for the reminders, Colleen. I so relate to the marathon analogy. Lacing up my running shoes as I type (figuratively speaking of course, I'm no runner. I'm built for stability in high winds!)
PatriciaKay.com said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
PatriciaKay.com said…
That'll teach me to preview first! Sorry about the deletion (above). I discovered not one, but two misspelled words! LOL! Anyway, thank you for the kind comments, Colleen. They're very much appreciated. It's been my pleasure to be your critique partner all these years and I've learned a lot from you, too. I hope we continue this journey together for a long while. One last thing: I fully expect that your successes are only in the beginning stages. I see great things in your future!
Hi, Emily! Thanks for stopping by. I can so relate to that comment. My only marathons are run from the comfort of my writing chair!

Pat, Aw! Thanks for the sweet words and for being such a great role model! And you're just trying to make me feel better, with the typos. Because you know I am their queen!
Brandie N said…
Great advice and congratulations again Pat! I really appreciate you taking your time to share with us!

Linda Warren said…
Congratulations!! Fifty books is a stellar accomplishment. I'm amazed. Impressed. And blown away by your talent and longevity in this business. Wishing you many more books.

I so wanted to attend the meeting on Saturday to hear you speak, but I had a deadline on Monday and that meant a full weekend of polishing and editing.

All my best,
Hi, Brandie and Linda! Nice to hear from you two.

Missed you at the meeting, Linda, but those deadlines have to take precedence. Congrats on completing another one!
Nancy J. Parra said…
Nice post- so true. :) Thanks for sharing.
Anonymous said…
Pat and Colleen, You are both lovely examples of how to transform kindness, savvy, storytelling, and hard work into a dynamite career. Hugs, Diane
Marilyn Brant said…
Colleen and Pat, thank you both so much for this helpful and down-to-earth post. It was *just* what this newbie needed to read today ;).
Thank you so much, Nancy, Diane, and Marilyn. I'm so glad you enjoyed the post.
Joni Rodgers said…
Amen to all that. In writing and in life. Thanks, Pat & Colleeny.
Mylène said…
Wonderful post and affirmations. The writing life is exactly that--a life. We bloom, rest, bloom, tense, bloom, reach, bloom. The season is never finished.
Thanks, Mylene & Joni!
Joselyn Vaughn said…
Thanks for the reminders. It is so easy to get bogged down with rejections. We have to remember to get back up and keep going because the journey isn't over.
Thanks so much, Joselyn. Keep the faith!

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