Friday, February 27, 2009

Do Some Writers Deserve to Starve - Part Two


It’s extraordinarily hard to get published. It’s just as difficult to STAY PUBLISHED. Most writers do not live a Stephen King life. They hold other jobs or find other avenues to make money.

Aspiring-to-be-published authors often burn the candle at both ends. They work hard to continue to EXIST in the world, and they make the time to write and submit and pray and hope that their literary dreams will come to fruition. Once they reach the pinnacle of their success, GETTING A DEAL, some – as Niles states – find their writing careers killed as quickly as they began. The reasons? Burnout and what Niles calls “The Vacuum”.

Many published authors have careers outside of writing; once they get that initial deal, they now have TWO careers. It’s easy to get tired. To avoid that, Niles suggests that writers remember to HAVE A LIFE, which to her means “read, talk with friends, go places (near and far), do things, feel things, and sometimes…just…put the writing away for awhile.” Don’t forget that writing is not your WHOLE life; it’s merely a facet. If you lose yourself, you will lose the inspiration to write.

In regards to “The Vacuum,” Niles states that “In vacuum-afflicted writers, this is the emptiness that follows a first sale. Some call it the curse of the three-book deal. Many writers focus on their project exclusively for so many years that once it is out, there is nothing left.”

Unfortunately, most of us can think of that one debut novel we loved and then the emptiness that followed when the author didn’t have any more books come out. It’s important to KEEP WRITING, even while trying to publish the current “love of your life.” Focusing on that one Great American Novel will deflect from your creativity and keep you from writing. Niles suggests that writers should always keep creative files full of story ideas, interesting characters, and snippets of dialogue. If necessary, consider a co-writer. But first and foremost, keep writing…start on the next project while wishing and praying for publication of the one before it.

Check out Elaura Niles' book today!

More TRUTH to come...


Shon Bacon is an author, editor, and educator, whose biggest joys are writing and helping others develop their craft. She has published both creatively and academically and interviews women writers on her popular blog ChickLitGurrl: high on LATTES & WRITING. You can learn more about Shon's writings at her official website, and you can get information about her editorial services at The World According to ChickLitGurrl.

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  1. I think I may have to buy that book - the wisdom sounds timeless to a writer's career.

    My saving grace as an author, I think, is that the book I sold was my second book. The first book I wrote was my baby, my "hopes and dreams live and die with you" book. When I realized it was a piece of crap (altho very well written -LOL), I was able to let go and envision a series of books based on a character. That should keep the ideas and books coming.

    Gayle Carline (aka GeeCarl)

  2. Hey there, Gayle. What I like about the book is this is information we've heard before, but it's important to hear again and in one location. I had a slew of books written before I had a book published (and I was a co-author to it at that!) so I know the importance of keeping the pen (or fingers upon keys) moving.

  3. The starving artist attitude just makes me cringe, and I never saw the allure in it. I always thought of myself as a businesswoman who's product happened to be (fill in the blank).


  4. I think the past definition of "starving artist" has given way to a new one - those artists who do not put forth the effort to create more and market more and promote more and persevere more.

    A lot of Niles' advice seems to give autonomy to the writer and not the publisher; let's OWN our work and take responsibility for writing and for the pursuit of publication.

  5. Good post, Gayle. Sounds like a book worth having in your resource library.

  6. Great post, Shon. I will definitely check out that book. It is so important to keep on writing, whether it's your first or your fiftieth manuscript, your first or your fiftieth success. Stephen King didn't get to be "King" of the hill overnight, though it does seem like that sometimes. I love listening to him tell stories of the early days, when even he didn't think he really had it in him. Perseverance is key, staying true to who you know you are. Thanks for sharing that book recommendation!

    Jenny Bean

  7. Many truths there. Sounds like good common sense.

    Morgan Mandel

  8. Great response, Jenny. I think it's easy for writers to look at authors that made it and think it was easy for them. What's needed is for those same writers to realize it's hardly ever easy, and it takes consistency and hard work and dedication.


The Blood-Red Pencil is a blog focusing on editing and writing advice. Some of our contributors are editors, some are authors, and some are writing sheep. Yes, sheep.


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