Friday, October 19, 2007

Writing Isn't for Cowards

Went to another meeting of the Writers League of Texas last night. The featured speaker was Amanda Eyre Ward who has written Sleep Toward Heaven, How to be Lost, and Forgive Me. She was an engaging speaker and cheerfully answered audience questions.

One of the things she talked about is something so important for new writers to understand: the importance of persistence. This is a woman who wrote a novel about women on death row in Texas. Her latest book involves violence in South Africa during apartheid. Not exactly prepossessing topics. She got turned down by all the major publishers for her first novel. She revised it and it got sent around again. Only one small publisher was interested. But it did get published. And the movie rights have been bought for both of her first two books. She’s a successful novelist.

The point is that she believed in the stories she had to tell. She was willing to do the hard work of revising those stories in profound ways to make them work better. She believed in herself and her stories and didn’t stop until they were right and they sold. She was willing to change agents when the first one gave up.

Being a writer isn’t for cowards. We have to have the courage to be honest with ourselves about our work and to persist despite apparently insurmountable obstacles. We have to throw our hearts into stories not knowing if anyone else will care. Because if we hold back our stories won’t be worth reading.

And if you’re interested in some powerfully emotional stories, check out Amanda Eyre Ward’s books.